Note: This is not specific to India (although examples maybe quoted based on India)
I was listening to a radio show a few days before and there was a 30 minute topic on "Are you a truly patriotic Indian". The program seemed to offer a lot of scope for inanities so I listened. The host of the show wanted to give out the image that he was very patriotic and he kept saying some praises about India, which I anyway completley did not understand ( why did he have to say things like this). I immediately lost respect for the host and began to compare him with some of the biggest idiots I have seen in my life. This was a sample conversation in that show ( reproduced as is). And this program was aired on Republic day ( Jan 26) in bangalore FM.
Caller: Hi! I am Ajay
Host: Hi! Ajay welcome to the show. the topic we have here is "Are you truly patriotic".
Ajay: Hi! today is my birthday
Host: oh! thats great happy birthday Ajay!
Ajay: says something stupid.
Host: Okay! when your friends call you do they wish "happy republic day" first or "happy birthday".
Ajay: Happy Republic day sir . Thats what they wished first.
Host: Are you sure it is Repubic day and not Birthday? And do you wish all your friends republic day?
Ajay: ( in a stupid way) no sir! its republic day only. I wish all my friends republic day.
Host: Boy! You are really patriotic!
I couldn't listen anymore. I was vomiting buckets already. Are these really words coming out their mouths? Our grandfathers must've turned in their graves. I sometimes don't even know the meaning of Republic Day? Why are we republic again? How does that make a difference to the country? But thats moot. Have any of you ever called anyone to wish Republic day? Or even Independence day? I have seen just about every place in India and I have never seen anybody wish anybody Republic day! EVER!
But this is just a sample. Many people seem to think patriotism is good. I was like this before and succumbed easily to the evils of patriotism and the prejudices it created. Overtime I have changed. For the better. Now I get revolted by it. Let me tell you why?
1) The killing of Rajiv gandhi ( by a suicide bomber) , Indira gandhi and many of poiliticians all over the world. Who killed them ? Patriots!! Except that they were patriotic to a different cause than the people who got killed.
2) The Godhra incident where one religious community burned down a train full of people. And the reverse burning down of that community by another community. Gujarat was burning. Why did all this happen? Patriotism. A strong patriotism to some cause they belived. People were burning each other down because they were patriotic to two different causes.
3) The killing of Tamils in Bangalore during the cauveri issue. The supreme court ordered karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu. The karnataka farmers were aggreived at this loss of water and so a completely unrelated set of people ran amock the roads of banglore finding and killing Tamils. Why? well if you want to be a patriotic kannadiga you bloody well kill some Tamils.
4) The killing and burning of just about anybody on the roads in Bangalore because some Christian missionary ( Benny henn who?) was coming to give a religious lecture. I did not know about this and so took my vehicle to work. I escaped death by a whisker.
5) The killing of sikhs all over India when Indira Gandhi was killed by a sikh. The killing of members of community X when some member of community X committed a national crime.
Growing up in 80's and 90's this is the only definition of patriotism I have seen.
So what is patriotism?
Patriotism is a tool which can bring out the deepest darkest facet of human beings. It is a prejudice inducer, a bias creator. It causes the evil person from inside you to surface. In all the instances of patriotic acts in the last 30 years, this is what patriotsim was used to acheive; " we are all of the same community/ same state/ same blood type. They ( the villians) have committed a crime against one of our clan/members. So if you are patriotic you should go and kill them"
This is patriotsim at the macro level. At the micro level its based on caste where people try and polarize a group saying " we belong to caste X he is caste Y and so dont talk to him. dont help him". It makes stereotypes and sweeping generlizations possible. If at any point you suddenly became logical and asked " Once more ! List out the reasons one-by-one why I should do this?" All this violence would never happen. Without patriotism the world would be a safer, better place.
You say these magic words "patriotism", which makes a person believe that he is part of a bigger unit and see the results you get. Tell him if he acts in a prejudiced manner against a person of a another group then he would be considered patriotic. Bang!! there you go!!! you have a patriot in no time.
Believe it or not. In an overly emotional(often demonstrative), less rational and weak country like India.. patriotism poisons people at the grass root levels, at job interview levels. Believe me I have seen it! So bad that in a work place if you ask someone for help, he may or may not help you depending on his level of patriotism. If he has strong feelings about your caste/religion/state ( the state factor is big in Bangalore and many other places) he may not help you. Because not helping you makes him patriotic to his caste/religion/state.. If you are a cricket team selector from Delhi, you bloody well select a few Delhi people otherwise you arent so patriotic.
In a technology era where one does not need to fight for a country's independence or a noble cause anymore, patriotism is an evil evil tool. It makes you loose your logical skills and rationale and converts you into an animal.
If you are thinking this cannot pose a lot of problems ....get a load of this. The people who really want to change a country or system are those who don't like the way it is. If you are a good soul and feel India is a bad dirty country with a lot of corruption and you want to change it. Then first you have to say that India is a bad dirty country with a lot of corruption. This makes people aware of the problem first and then work on the solution. If you say India is a beautiful wonderful country .. then there is no need for change. But when you say the truth, the evil people who want India to remain a bad dirty corrupt country will get upset. So they will use the "patriot" angle. They will say "look he is an NRI, a forign return, a phirangee, he thinks low of India. These bloody foreign educated people. Once they go out of India they start making fun of it"
Since most Indians are fools ( they really are.. i say "most" because I want to exclude myself, my family and friends out) they will immediately take the patriot angle rather than the sensible angle. And before you know they will be supporting violation of traffic rules, spitting on roads, corrupt government officials (who are every where) and traffic cops ( 100% of all traffic cops in India are corrupt). They will say these dirty things are the Indian tradition. That is how stupid most people are.
So there you go. I hate patriotism. The reason why I hate it is obvious. If some one comes and talks a lot of "mera bharat mahaan" to me, I seriously feel like laughing on his face. I have no special feelings towards "India", the brand these patriots have created. From what these patriots have done.. India more like a condom or underwear brand nowadays. I sleep during Independence day ( or catch a movie) and I don't know what the hell Republic day means. I do not stand with Indian flag wavers in cricket staduim because I know that that when they get tired of waving it they will use it as a khercheif to wipe their sweat or worse a lungi. I support the India team only when it plays well or at least tries to play well. I do not consider patriotism as supporting a lazy, spoilt, arrogant, losing team. I do not force forigners ( especially those from the US) to sit down and listen to my stupid praises about India. I do not critisize the US or any other country (even pakistan) for that matter. I do not list out stupid things on why India is a great country or why we are a peace loving counrty ( we are not). The most important thing is I never run away from my problems by saying "America is bad too" and I keep away from the trash-the west bull shit and focus on only my problems. I dont do so because it doesn't do justice to my education. I think people who do all the above are idiots.
If IT investors from the west visit India, I would like to take them to a government office. Show them how corrupt the system is and plead to them to stop investing in the country anymore. Once the IT money dries up because of this reason, the industrialists would want to cleanse the government offices. Wouldn't that be a neat way to stop corruption? Use a thorn to pluck out another thorn stuck in the leg.
One thing I have learned is. There is no sense to patriotism. You are basically saying "My country/caste/religion is great because I was born into it". There is no other reason. Because if you were born to a different country/caste/religion you would be supporting that country/caste/religion and not this one. So your "support" depends on who you work for. Which means "merit" is no more a factor. That is anti-intellect and I will not be a part of it.