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‘Patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’ being redefined?

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by Vijaykumar Patil

BELAGAVI, May 4: An unbiased and fair review of the prevailing socio-political-cultural order indicates that the nation is being pushed into a critical situation and confusing atmosphere, leading to a paradigm shift in the very concept of patriotism, further leading to redefining the very meaning of ‘nationalism’.

Retrospectively, this situation manifested into a strong ideological weapon when the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi was being projected as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Hindutava new face or brand image more than four years ago with the then brand images of senior VHP leaders like Ashok Singhal and Praveen Todadia becoming dormant. It helped BJP led NDA, led by Mr.Modi and the party’s national president Amit Shah wresting the power from the Congress led UPA at the centre. Although its meaning and purpose visibly stood diluted to some extent over short period of time if the results of the recently held assembly elections in Prime Minister’s home state Gujarat wherein the BJP just managed to retain the power, it was and still being used as strongest ideological weapon to lure the voters under the pretext of nationalism and patriotism in elections.


Look at the unabated flow of messages being circulated in social media, all revolving between two persons, Mr.Modi and Congress national president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor and mother Sonia Gandhi, and the entire Nehru-Gandhi family. Precisely, these messages further revolve around the issue of who is patriotic and who is not and emphatically suggest that all those who accept Mr.Modi as leader of the nation are likened to be patriots. Even a constructive and valid criticism of Modi government’s policies, its do’s and don’ts is viewed with high contempt and mercilessly dubbed as anti-India and unpatriotic. 

Same contempt is held against the Congress and all its supporters, if not for other political parties for the fact that they, as individual, hold little threat to the BJP at the centre. There’s lot of content ridiculing Rahul Gandhi, projecting him as just an unfit and immature individual to lead the nation. The Congress is being berated as supporters of Jehadis and anti-nationals in public speeches.

Of late, now there are counter messages/texts pointing out at the do’s and don’ts and U-turn on the pre-poll promises made by BJP and Mr.Modi, where the latter is being projected as lier and someone who made tall promises with an eye on the office of Prime Minister but did very little to provide relief to the common man.

Interestingly, one of the off-shoots of this development is the emergence of what is being described as the tribe of ‘blind followers’, who not only blindly believe it but also forward and share such material among various professional and friends groups in the social media without ascertaining veracity of the claims made in these contents and expect them to be in affirmation too. The immediate victim of this trend has been the youth, who spend more time in browsing social media sites and sharing such messages instead of using their precious time in contributing to the growth and progress of the country. 

The student community is not an exception when it comes to devoting substantial amount of time to be with the social media, which however, is a seriously a different issue to be pondered upon.

However, a fact which even the bitterest critic of Mr.Modi would not negate is that unlike in the past, patriotic sentiments have started finding a new expression among citizens, particularly the youth of the country although from the BJP’s point of view, thanks to failure of the Opposition to present a formidable and potential alternative leader to Mr.Modi if not to the BJP. What is being emphatically pushed across is that a vote to BJP is a vote to “Modi” and a vote to Congress is a vote anti-national?

But, will this emotional chord help BJP in Karnataka, which is moving closer to the D-Day, May 12 when the voters will walk to polling stations and decide who should be their representatives in the 224-member prestigious Karnataka legislative assembly and hand over their future into their hands for next five year (unless there are no mid-term polls)? Will the people of State buy BJP’s definition of nationalism ignoring the do’s and don’ts of the first-ever full-fledged BJP government in Karnataka that came to power under the leadership former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who had to quit the coveted office at Vidhana Soudha following charges of corruption, and the political instability the party gave under three chief ministers in five years during 2008-13? Or will they remain with the Congress ignoring its alleged compromise with corruption by diluting the strong Lokayukta? Or to what extent will they look as alternative to both the Congress and BJP at the JD(S), which has grown into a family enterprise, likened the dynastic rule similar to that of the Nehru-Gandhi family and allegedly reached a tacit understanding with the BJP in the current elections?

Ironically, in the process of defining and redefining patriotism and nationalism, the issues of development and progress, the plight of farmers and the problems of youth in search of employment are taking back-seat, although they find mention in all election/public speeches and media conferences. Bitter criticism, allegations and counter allegations of corruption and misrule, of broken promises and falsehoods are the common contents in election speeches. Apparently, public sentiments are getting meticulously transformed into an unusual electoral war between what has been vaguely categorised into two sections of patriots and unpatriots so as to encash it in the ensuing general elections to the Lok Sabha next year again?

But, for all practical purposes, polarization of voters on religious as well as on caste lines is more intense these days and hardly any political party stands out an exception to this threatening electoral politics. The hate campaigns through various mediums are only dividing further the truly pluralistic society for political gains. But, who has the answer to the question that when and how would the nation pay for political misadventures of sorts where grabbing political power by hook or crook is of supreme importance?

10 thoughts on “‘Patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’ being redefined?”

  1. Sir we need more sane voices like yours. Political parties r spoiling the environment jus for the sake of five years of power.

  2. Well Said Mr. Vijay.
    Really now days this has become the worst in the name of Religion & Patriotism.
    We had never heard of this things for the past, Nobody was interested in “What Religion one Follows”, We all were living peacefully under one Tag “INDIANS” though we are from different religions & Sects.
    But Unfortunately Under the Current BJP Rule this has become the WORST thing which they are using as a Weapon for targetting their VOTE Banks. But they dont know the consequences in Future, It will become WORSE & The Image of Our nation will drastically fall down Globally.

  3. Mr Vijay Kumar… Your article is full criticism of MODI and BJP… But a very little That too for name sake of Congress as if they have ruled India and our state for a very less time.. Plz be balanced in your views, don’t be biased, you are the people who create opinion about in the society and I think social Media has threatened your ability to create opinion so you say that youths blindly follow and are mislead…

    All are intelligent and have self realisation now and they feel there is no need of any external opinion… Whenever a patriotic people try to elect a Nationalist government these types of articles come out but are not going to affect…

  4. Dear Sir,
    I read the article patiently but could not find the definition of national and patriotic or for the same the other side of the coin. The whole article makes general statements without clearly bringing out , in your esteemed opinion whats right/wrong with national / anti national, patriotism etc. May be couple of references / examples to incidents might help.
    In general I feel its good that 72 years after independence we have started re-discussing patriotism, which was limited to hoisting flags on 15th Aug and 26th Jan every year. May be its the churn in the society and the intellectual intellegensia and it will settle some time later with an updated version of patriotism, which is the need of the hour. I hope its India / Bharat / Hindustan at the core without any “ifs” and “buts”.
    Warm regards
    Indian / Bharat / which ever name suits.

    • Thanks for your response. I didn’t define what is patriotism believing that all of us knew what it is. I simply shared my genuine views on political parties are changing its meaning and want people to see from their point of view. Patriotic commitments and nationalism are deeply co-related and well defined as Maj.Gen.K.N. Mirji has explicitly made it clear. It is disturbing when some patronize these Noble values and brand as unpatriotic or anti-national all those who don’t buy their view point, which amounts to intolerance and coercion. If an individual is not a supporter of ‘X’ party, it doesn’t mean that he he is a supporter of ‘Y’ party. But, does that mean that he or she is unpatriotic or anti-national? All those who project themselves as true Patriots, should first remove persons involved in corrupt practices and…… Patriotism and corrupt practices can’t be common bedfellows as a corrupt man can’t loot his country’s resources and a truly patriotic individual will never involve in any corrupt practices….
      I would like quote hete a brief verse from one of the poetry dedicated to freedom fighters, hope many will agree:

      Woh Bapu, Lal Bahaddur kahaan
      Woh Bhagat aur, Aazad kahaan……..

  5. I agree with the opinion expressed by Shri Irfan Mohammed regarding unabated efforts of all political parties towards dividing our society. We as responsible and sensible citizens should not fall prey to such mischievous tricks of the politicians and we should also educate the people around us that Communal Harmony is the Need of the Hour. Let us all pledge to stay united despite the ‘dirty’ games being played by these uncouth politicians!

  6. With reference to the comments of shri Sagar – many of us do tend to get confused between “Nationalism” and “Patriotism”. The basic difference is that, Patriotism is True Love for One’s Country, where Nation Comes First Always & Every Time. Nationalism is Identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. In our country. By nationalism we mean the political ideology that locates the right of self-government in a people who share a common culture. The idea of ‘Indian Nationalism’ did help us in our freedom struggle. However, what we need today is Patriotism, not by merely reciting Vande Mataram or paying respect to National Anthem, but by being sincere in our day to day work.

    • Very well said Sir. Its true patriots like you who have actually sacrificed for the country can understand the true meaning unlike short sighted politicians taking the general people for a jolly ride in the name of caste/color/region/religion.

  7. The article described disturbing political tactics impartially. Patil sir narrated how educated netizens spread fabricated information.


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