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Why are we embarrassed to show love for India?

Why are we embarrassed to show love for India?

Author: Jyoti Sharma
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 24, 2007
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/City_Supplements/Bombay_Times/Why_are_we_embarrassed_to_show_love_for_India/articleshow/1434862.cms

Unlike the UK and US, why do Indians shy away from public displays of affection for our country?

Why is it that Indians do not wear love for their country on their sleeve the way Americans, British or Australians do? Unlike a US citizen who would wear 'Proud to be an American' tee to work, why does an Indian keeps his tri-colour toting zeal confined to a Team India match? Why don't we see more Indians wearing clothes, turbans or even bindis and dupattas in the colours of the nation? Why is it that no building proudly wears the Indian flag on its exterior a la the Nasdaq?

You would be hard pressed to spot one student in the college campus with Indian colours on him. And if you do, it's possible you would wonder what agenda the person is pursuing!

Is it that Indians are less proud of their country than rest of the world? Or, does the truth lie elsewhere?

Nationwide polls as part of the India Poised campaign show that Indian youth today are fiercely proud of India and passionate about seeing their country in the forefront of world powers. Make no mistake, at heart we are all proud Indians. But, rarely would anyone catch us admitting so publicly! What makes us Indians so defensive about a public display of affection for our country?

Explains sociologist Beenu Syal, "Even with elders, Indians are respectful rather than affectionate. The same attitudes apply to the country, which is seen as the motherland."

So, whereas Indians look up to their country as the motherland and accord the respect due to it, they would be as loathe to show that affection publicly as they would be to hug their parents, siblings or wives in public.

And yet, today there's a difference. India is suddenly into PDA (public display of affection)! Today on the world scene, the country seems to demand and expect that show of affection and Young India is suddenly eager to show that love and proudly display that affection. If Shilpa Shetty is the target of a racist attack on UK TV, it arouses strong emotions in India and youngsters are willing to fight back for what they consider an insult to India.

So far as wearing tri-colour goes, initially of course there was the legal issue related to our usage of the tri-colour. Till a few years ago, wearing Indian colours or hoisting a flag meant you were flouting the law. It took a long court case to finally get the freedom to hoist the tri-colour. Says youth activist Aditya Raj Kaul, "The laws were definitely a factor here. Now, with those regressive laws gone, you see many more people hoisting a flag on August 15 and January 26. But it will still take some more time for the trend to really catch up. In that context, 2006 has been something of a watershed with so many youngsters not being shy of taking up issues that made a difference to the country."

Indeed, this year has seen Indian youth raise their voice as one for Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Mattoo and Nitish Katara. Helping them along and showing them that patriotism and a sense of justice are the right emotions to fight for, were movies like Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munnabhai.

Kunal Kapoor, RDB's Aslam, adds, "You can't attribute such a strong reaction to only a film. RDB was just a catalyst. It tapped what was already in there by presenting patriotism in a package that the youngsters understood and empathised with. Also, our generation definitely takes more pride in our country than the generations before us.

We are more informed, we don't look up to the west and we know there are opportunities for us in India."

Suddenly today love for the country is not just the neta's prerogative. "I love my country" no longer reeks of hypocrisy or self-aggrandisement. Today's youth loves India for her history, for her rich culture, for Gandhi, for truthfulness, for a sense of justice and fair play.


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