Enough with the Pak ob­ses­sion. True pa­tri­o­tism isn’t about bash­ing oth­ers

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - All That Matters -

around, it would all have been harm­less fun. How­ever, the prob­lem is deeper and chronic. As In­dian na­tion­al­ism rises, putting down Pak­istan has be­come an es­sen­tial part of it. This mind­set of ‘we are bet­ter than Pak­istan’ and seek­ing con­stant val­i­da­tion of that needs to stop. It is harm­ing us. I have no love for Pak­istan. The regime’s vi­o­lence and ter­ror has harmed In­dia. To that ex­tent, yes, In­dia must con­tinue to tell the world of the Pak­istan regime’s wrong­do­ings. How­ever, for our own growth’s sake, we must stop com­par­ing and feel­ing good about be­ing bet­ter than Pak­istan on a daily ba­sis.

Af­ter all, do we com­pare our­selves with Bangladesh or Sri Lanka? Do we ever say In­dian diplo­mats shut up Lankan of­fi­cials at the UN? Or that we man­aged to hu­mil­i­ate the leader of Bangladesh? No, we don’t do it. We know all this is be­neath us. We are also quite se­cure of our place when it comes to these coun­tries.

How­ever, when it comes to Pak­istan, we change. We en­joy bring­ing them down, but in do­ing so we end up com­par­ing our­selves to them. When we com­pare our­selves to them, we also equate our­selves to them at some level. And if we con­sider Pak­istan an equal, aren’t we only in­sult­ing our­selves?

Please note the facts. The In­dian econ­omy is ten times the size of Pak­istan. Pak­istan’s GDP is less than Ma­ha­rash­tra’s GDP. In­dia is still a democ­racy (with its flaws, sure). Pak­istan never grad­u­ated to be­ing a real coun­try. We are sec­u­lar in con­sti­tu­tion. They are of­fi­cially about one re­li­gion. Fac­tu­ally, whether in eco­nomic, de­mo­graphic, po­lit­i­cal struc­ture or so­cial equal­ity terms — Pak­istan is no match to In­dia. Still, guess who loves to ‘rub their nose’ on TV ev­ery night? In­se­cure, low es­teem us, isn’t it?

To get rid of this dam­ag­ing ob­ses­sion, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand why we have it in the first place. One, for sure they are trou­ble­mak­ers at a dif­fer­ent level, com­pared to al­most any of our neigh­bours. Their con­stant dis­rup­tion of In­dian life makes it dif­fi­cult to ig­nore them. Note that they want to be com­pared to us. And as per that regime’s twisted think­ing, they feel an­noy­ing us makes them equal to us. A mos­quito an­noy­ing an ele­phant doesn’t make him equal to an ele­phant. How­ever, if the ele­phant loses his cool and gets ob­sessed with the mos­quito, then yes, the ele­phant has re­duced him­self to be­ing the mos­quito’s equal.

The sec­ond rea­son for our Pak­istan ob­ses­sion is our lan­guage and cul­ture com­mon­al­ity, par­tic­u­larly for North In­di­ans. It is just strange to see peo­ple who look like us, talk like us, eat like us (at least a few dishes), watch the same movies and lis­ten to the same mu­sic be­ing such ad­ver­saries of ours. That com­mon­al­ity is hard to shake off, but we must. If In­dia has to progress, it bet­ter start not com­par­ing it­self with any­one else. If we have to com­pare, we should do it with China, Europe and Amer­ica. To rise, look above, not be­low.

The third rea­son for our ob­ses­sion is the bloody Partition and the way Pak­istan was cre­ated. Pak­istan’s cre­ation was a hasty, ill-thought ne­go­ti­a­tion. The de­ci­sion to make Pak­istan was also one of the most com­mu­nal de­ci­sions ever taken in In­dia’s his­tory. The pain of that time makes it dif­fi­cult to for­get them. That is why you see our se­nior cit­i­zens more ob­sessed with Pak­istan. The younger gen­er­a­tion, hope­fully, doesn’t carry this bag­gage.

The fourth rea­son is some­thing we don’t like to talk about. That is, hat­ing Pak­istan is an ac­cept­able sur­ro­gate to hat­ing Mus­lims. No self-re­spect­ing In­dian would be caught openly bash­ing Mus­lims. How­ever, bash­ing Pak­istan is ac­cept­able, and may even be ap­pre­ci­ated as a sign of pa­tri­o­tism.

How­ever, it is time In­dia, and we as In­di­ans, grow up. True pa­tri­o­tism is not about bash­ing oth­ers. It is about aim­ing high for your own coun­try. Given Pak­istan’s deeds to­wards In­dia, we have no love for them. But re­mem­ber, the op­po­site of love is not hate. It is in­dif­fer­ence. Ob­sess­ing about them, even if with hate, is also a form of en­gage­ment. It only low­ers In­dia’s level and keeps us be­hind. It is time we stop ob­sess­ing about Pak­istan and fo­cus on our­selves. It is time we give Pak­istan what it truly de­serves from us — in­dif­fer­ence.

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