First, A Disclaimer: This article does not indulge in the rhetoric, but shall state plain facts!
Just this morning, I got an important forward from my Dean. It was a letter from Prakash Javadekar. (Note: For people who don’t know who Prakash Javadekar is — he is the new Minister for Human Resource Development (MHRD) — yes, the one who replaced Smriti Irani).
The letter was intended for all principals, deans, professors and teachers (which is why I was the recipient). What was so great about the letter was that for the first time the government seems to have a patriotism promotion agenda on hand. [Note: And no, I am not referring to the Hitler-inspired brand of patriotism but the one envisisioned by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi].
For too long, we have been sidelining our national heroes. For instance, did you know that a series of RTI applications filed by Suryapratap Singh Rajawat revealed that the NCERT textbooks — for reasons best known to them! — had conveniently excluded many national leaders and luminaries like Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan, Batukeshwer Dutt, Ram Prasad Bismil, Sukhdev, etc. In fact, political colossus like Subhas Chandra Bose and Swami Vivekanand have been taken out of focus, with content on Swami Vivekananda been reduced from 1,250 to 87 words in Class XII history books, and completely removed from the syllabus for Class VIII. Interestingly — and sadly! — there are in all 36 freedom fighters who have now been left out.
Whether it has been done deliberately … is in fact, a moot point. Truth is, the government needs to play an important and proactive role in promoting patriotism and social values amongst people and the letter from Prakash Javdekar seems like a good step in that direction. In his letter, he quotes:
“As the students in our educational institutions come with stars in their eyes and dreams about the future that are going to have, it is essential that they know our past, the sacrifices made by the thousands of martyrs who have made this dream possible. When we remember them, and understand what toll has gone into making of our Country, we understand the responsibility cast on us to use this precious gift of freedom with care.”
Hence, the Indian government has urged all educational institutions (and thereby the students) to remember the long-lost souls who gave their all so we could have it all. Hence, for a whole fortnight (and not just a day) from 9th August to 23rd August, we will be celebrating ‘Azaad 70’ or ‘Independence 70’ wherein faculty and students will focus on the theme – ‘Yaad Karo Qurbani’.
For so long, politics has been focusing on divisive policies that the mail comes as a welcome reprieve. It has decided to instil in people a feeling that seems to have lost its lustre — a love for India. In case, you’re wondering why we need patriotism at all… let me remind you of the most common adage of all – ‘Man is a social animal’.
Hence, whatever his caste, colour, and creed, every man lives in a society. Even the tribes of the remotest villages in Africa function as an integrated society. And so do the vagabond gypsies, who travel together as a group. Thus, as long as there was man, he has always lived as part of a group. Why? Well, for the simple feeling of belongingness. ‘Loyalty’ thus emanates when you feel that like you belong to or are part of a group. This loyalty (to the group/community/country) is the basis of patriotism and the foundation-stone of social values that allow man to survive and succeed as a group (or a country).
In other words, patriotism is not the last refuge of the scoundrel, it is the loyal human who never left his group!!!