There have been patriots who have sacrificed everything in the service of the country; they have not even cared for their life when the protection of the honour of their country had been at stake. This is the spirit which governs and guides a true patriot.
There is a long list of patriots in our country who would suffer but would not surrender. Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, Rani Laxmi Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahal — they fought the aggressors to free their country from the foreign yoke. There have been Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, who struggled all their life to free their country from the alien British rule; there were Sardar Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla, Bismil and host of other revolutionaries whose ways might have been different but whose patriotic fervour was deep, devoted and dedicated. They were fighting for the freedom of their country knowing full well, the risks that they were running and ultimately had to suffer the gallows but would not urge or bend. In the very recent past in the Kargil war nearly four hundred soldiers and young officers gave their lives to get their boundaries vacated by the Pakistani aggressors. These are patriots whose sacrifices need to be glorified. But the Mughals, or the British or the Pakistanis would say that in ruling over the Indian people or by occupying the Indian territories, they were also serving the cause of their race or nation.
So they were or are also patriots. No. The argument does not hold water.
India was not the homeland of either the Mughals or the British; the Kargil sector did not belong to Pakistan; aggression on behalf of one’s nation or race is not patriotism. It is an attack on another country’s freedom. The Indian freedom fighters were no aggressors; rather they were trying to chase away the aggressors to save their country from subjugation. That amounts to patriotism. That is really the service to the country of one’s birth.
It was the heroic nineteen years old Joan of Arc who rose up in rebellion against the English domination of France. She was captured by the British and was burnt alive. But by her sacrifice she became a national heroine. She by her single sacrifice could unite the entire fending States of France which could free the country from the foreign yoke.
These are glaring and glorious examples of patriotism. Napoleon, Bismarck, Czar, Hitler — all served the cause of their motherland but they cannot be called ‘patriots’ — as they were aggressors on the freedom of other nations. Such a deed is not any service of one’s country and had never been appreciated, could never be appreciated. It is not fighting and struggle against some power that alone amounts to patriotism. Even those reformers, social thinkers, philosophers, writers, poets who gave to their country their mind’s best thoughts and served their country on the intellectual and moral field are also patriots in their own right. Raja Ram Mohan Roy who fought hard to get the evil system of ‘Sati’ abolished; Aurbindo Ghosh who gave to the modern thought of the country a revolution in the field of philosophy and education; Swami Vivekanand who carried the message of Vedanta to foreign lands and established its supremacy, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who fought all his life for social justice and propounded a religious order for all, Rabindra NathTagore, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, Swami RamTirth all of them did commendable service to serve the country in their own way.
It could even be said that Goswami Tulsidas, Kabir, Gurunanak, Sharat Chandra and Prem Chandra, who served the society with their thoughts and thinking are to be termed as great patriots. Thus, patriotism had ever been, shall ever be and is the noblest of emotions and nothing can underrate it. It has been a source of noble inspiration.
But the world today is growing global. We are now not only to think of our own nation but as and when we think of it, we have to keep the international perception in view. Why is it that there is such a demand that there should be a Non-proliferation Treaty signed by nations; that CTBT should be signed by India and Pakistan? India can or Pakistan can claim that it is their patriotic arching that they are serving the interests of their respective nations by equipping themselves with nuclear weapons.
But one nation’s war-preparedness cannot now be seen exclusively as those nations personal or subjective concern. The whole world watches it and gets concerned about it. The ‘Prithvi’, ‘the Arjun’ the guided missiles, INSAS rifles, the ‘Akash’, ‘the Trishul’, ‘the Nag’, the ‘Agni II’ r the Pokhran Test II — all these preparations can be termedias in the national interest and can be called ‘patriotic’ achievement; but if all these are ‘patriotic’ — China, France US, Russia, Pakistan — all conducting their own nuclear tests and coming out with advance- technology armaments should be freely permitted by the world body. The result then would be what happened in World War II at Nagasaki and Hiroshima as then; there was no international deterrent to the possession or use of such a deadly devastating device. That such a disastrous scene should not get repeated ever in future is the international thinking’” against which the ‘patriotic’ national agenda shall have to become subservient.
Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests on May 28 and May 30, 1998 and the then US president, Bill Clinton condemned the act and feared that it could add to the tensions prevailing in an ‘already volatile area’, while the President of Pakistan, Rafiq Tarar declared a state of emergency citing ‘threat by external aggression to the security of Pakistan. But the international community could not feel convinced and World Bank aids, and loans and aids from different developed nations were withheld both to India and Pakistan. This is how a ‘patriotic national event turns towards it the eye of the international world and now no country can close itself into its own ambit. Even the One World concept, though still a distant dream, has been thought about by some thinkers.
In this concept, the national sovereignties shall stand diluted in their privileges and powers. It is first a thought which had been set afloat. H.G. Wells, a great thinker and writer of the early twentieth century had long back proposed this ‘One World’ concept. What all this means is that patriotism is a noble ideal and a worthy concept.
One should never permit the national interest to be transgressed by any power, super or otherwise, show of strength is also necessary but in this world of global ramifications, narrow patriotism has to yield place to a broader concept where in the international interest and opinions will also have to be weighed and watched and our actions, though taken in national interest, should be such as may receive international recognition and consent. We are now one among many and have to live like that. That is why it is being said and rightly so that ‘Patriotism is not enough’.