In a country like India, low self-respect is rather prevalent. It doesn’t matter whether you are one of the privileged upper-classes or come from the struggling middle or lower classes. There is the lack of a distinct national identity that should make one proud of their country. And India, with history being proof, is not a nation-state. And this is exactly why nationalism becomes more important in the Indian context.
Remember, it is easier for the people of one culture-one identity to unite out of nature’s rule. India has been presented with the challenge of uniting several such ‘One Cultures’. Now by advocating nationalism as something people must ‘learn’ about, I’m definitely not suggesting chauvinism or jingoism. They are extremes that I reject in entirety and it is better to not be nationalistic if you were to end up slipping down the valley of jingoism (which can be very dangerous).
Now, you must be wondering what is the purpose of this post. The intention of this post is to make clear that nationalism is a given in most countries that India deals with. Ordinary folk of certain countries are way more nationalistic than Indians. Our emotional commitments have ended up ensuring that Indians are more ‘nationalist’ towards their families or religions, with the country always taking a back seat.
Nationalism should be encouraged (as a system of belief) because of the general lack of self-respect in Indians. We, being a democracy, are self-critical and that may be a tribute to the Indian state’s greatness but it does not call for lesser (or no) nationalism. The Chinese are united. The Pakistanis, despite their well-documented failures, take a few seconds to unite (for example, at the instant mention of ‘India’).
And like everything else in India, the choice of being a nationalist is just that. A choice.