THE LOVE OF HOME

India Today - - CONTENT - Illustrati­on by NILANJAN DAS

GOPALKRISH­NA GANDHI l LT. GEN. D.S. HOODA SWAPAN DASGUPTA l ALOK RAI l SAL­MAN KHUR­SHID ARKOTONG LONGKUMER l RAMA BIJAPURKAR l AMISH T.M. KR­ISHNA l MEGHNA GULZAR l RUCHIR JOSHI PLUS PHOTO FEA­TURE

WHAT DOES IT RE­ALLY MEAN? A LOVE FOR YOUR

coun­try, your na­tion, your home­land? At the risk of get­ting all tukde-tukde about it, we can’t re­ally talk about pa­tri­o­tism with­out split­ting a few hairs. We asked a clutch of em­i­nent cit­i­zens the ques­tion, and they all had very dif­fer­ent an­swers. Or you could say they all agreed that it de­pends on who you are: a film­maker or an au­thor, a teacher or a sol­dier, a singer or a diplo­mat. And though we are all In­di­ans, per­haps it mat­ters where you are from too: from the North or the South, from the Cap­i­tal or the pe­riph­ery, from Cal­cutta or Al­la­habad—Kolkata or Praya­graj. Or Kash­mir.

Sev­eral of our con­trib­u­tors are at pains to point out that pa­tri­o­tism is some­thing quite dis­tinct from na­tion­al­ism. Some­thing older, sub­tler and per­haps more au­then­tic. For oth­ers, the na­tion is the an­cient, au­then­tic source of our iden­tity. Is there a dis­tinc­tion between the topophilia we feel in our ‘na­tive place’ (or the place we ac­tu­ally live) and the col­lec­tive al­le­giance we share for a na­tional ab­strac­tion? Or is this just a sen­ti­men­tal con­tin­uum? Sim­i­larly, parochial­ism, prej­u­dice and xeno­pho­bia shadow the love of place and seem to scale up or down from the small­est so­cial unit to a sub­con­ti­nent.

In­dian pa­tri­o­tism has sur­vived all these con­tra­dic­tions and ironies—some­times it seems that it thrives on them. Once upon a time we were ex­horted to see a sin­gu­lar per­son, as the man­i­fes­ta­tion of In­dia her­self. It didn’t last long. A bil­lion pa­tri­ots are un­likely to warm to a sin­gle slo­gan. One more rea­son to cel­e­brate In­de­pen­dence.

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