I have been asked few questions on the previous topic.
Can or should a nation give preferential treatment to those who love the nation more than others?
In my opinion, no modern nation should start measuring patriotism in its people. Patriotism is not a set of marks you get in an exam, or an identity that you can wear. It is a state of emotion that people share- like love, hate, anger. A person can ask in a relationship, ‘prove that you love me!’ but a state cannot deny someone a teacher’s job because his love-for-nation quotient is 38 which is less than 50 that is required to get that job.
To many Indians, who have been told that patriotism is a virtue, the fact that patriotism is not measured or is not used in making decisions on individual’s rights and opportunities can be a bit discomforting, as seen by the questions raised in the previous blog.
There is a case where India gives sops to freedom fighters. In those cases, it is not a measure of love or patriotism, but it is recognition of job well done, such as winning accolades for a country in a war or at Olympics. One can win gold for a country and not be patriotic. One can be a soldier and not be patriotic. That’s why there were so many Indians in British Army protecting interests of British Empire far and wide, in Iraq, Egypt, etc. Gorkhas of India continue to serve Great Britain.
Can we give special treatment to patriots? Shall there be new lanes for patriotic people, seats reserved for patriotic people, or jobs allocated for patriotic people? Shall we start kicking out unpatriotic people out of the country? If so, where do we send them? To which country? What if someone hates India but chooses not to love any other country? Should every human profess faith in some nation or another?
Holding a passport of a country is different from expressing one’s love for that nation. This is where a relationship between a nation and a citizen is different from relationship between two individuals. One can break a marriage citing lack of love as a reason. You cannot do the same in a relationship between a nation and a citizen.
Love is personal, not a legal mandate. Also, can’t someone love more than one person? Does loving your mom automatically make you hate your dad? Does love for another nation automatically make you unpatriotic? Can’t one football fan support more than one team? Can’t you be living in India and still support Poland or Kenya?
The dilemma is when the other nation that Indians love happen to be Pakistan, which according to many Indians, is an enemy. So, is there a legal sanction or an official document that says Pakistan is an enemy? Do we create rules on how Indian citizens should treat their enemies? Why do we have trade or bus routes to Pakistan if that country is an enemy? Is loving one’s enemy or making positive overtures towards that enemy legally restricted? If that is the case, do we see any of our fights within our country or outside subside or exacerbate? Is the designation of enemies confined to international politics and not national politics? Can Karnataka declare officially that Tamil Nadu is an enemy? After that, can you still speak Tamil living in Bangalore?
Feelings are personal, not a sanction of a state. Emotions are personal, not a sanction of a state. Yes, we are all guided by our feelings and emotions. We get angry, sad, and ecstatic, as people. We love, hate, dislike, adore and abhor, as people. To say that at a certain point of time, the collective conscience of the nation is reflected as sum of all emotive reactions of its people at that time which in turn decides the legal sanction is quite absurd.
We are already traversing that idiotic path, and we do not even realize it. Kingdoms and nations have put to death people for professing faith in another religion. Women were convicted of witchcraft and were burnt at stake. Such things happened on this planet before, and yes, they can happen in India too, where people will be measured by how well one chants National Anthem to get into IIT. Then the marks will be given on the exactness of the words sung, the accent, the intonations, and pitch, the decibel, and they are used as measure of one’s patriotism.
A modern nation has to distance itself from such emotive measures, such measures of anger, one’s measure of loyalties, one’s measure of love or hate. They are subjective, personal, and completely invalid parameters to mete out the duties of a state towards its citizens.
However, choosing a political leader based on his qualities, which are not measured legally, but could be focus of attention of the people who vote him, are all part of a democratic process. Choosing a leader because he is seen as a better family man, because he served in the army, because he is seen as a patriot, because he is seen as an honest man, are all subjective topics that can sway the mood of people into voting him to power. However, that leader cannot be disqualified from contesting under the grounds that he is not a better family man, or less of a patriot.
An ordinary citizen cannot be measured by his love for the country, a measure of his honesty, a measure of his anger levels or hatred levels, as far as his negotiated rights are concerned.
There cannot be a reward program for hosting better feelings, or carrying out certain basic duties. A citizen cannot be given preferential treatment just because he respected rules better than the other. We do not, and we should not have such mechanisms to reward people who are just doing what they are supposed to do, like always stopping at red light, or putting the trash at the right place. On the other hand, the state can give you punishment for crossing the red light. In the same way, we have laws for convicting people if they inflict direct harm to a nation.
Apathy cannot be construed as hatred. No action is taken against those who look at the trash on the road and still fail to pick it up. His apathy is not a direct measure of disloyalty. A state should not treat a person differently when doling out justice in a court of law just because he did not display his patriotism in the appropriate manner. Someone who has not expressed his patriotism overtly in a certain way as prescribed by certain nationalists does not automatically become a traitor.
Indian State cannot go to every newly born child and measure his patriotic levels to grant him citizenship. A person can be a citizen of a country by virtue of being born in this country. He could grow up to like Poland or Kenya. If he wants to migrate to that nation, he can do so. And the current legal system allows for that without branding him a traitor. While the kid is growing up, he could still get into a school without discriminated against just because he loves Poland. When he is about to get into college, no question is asked to measure his level of patriotism to decide his admissions status.
While the state sanctions different treatment to its people based on certain physical attributes – such as a physical handicap, identity status – such as belonging to land of Tamils, economic status – such as earning less than certain amount of money, there is no criteria for measuring one’s emotive levels, such as how much love, how much hatred, how much pent up anger, or how much patriotism.
And most important point – the relationship between a nation and citizen is not subject to reciprocity. All citizens have the same rights and duties, irrespective of their patriotic levels. A nation has to mete out its duties even if that citizen hates that nation. The modern legal system is designed to protect citizens from whims and fancies that come out of arbiter’s emotions and feelings.
Just because a citizen has not done his duties properly, not stopping at red light, or trashing the place, does not automatically disqualify one from a citizenship. There are many duties Indians citizens are supposed to abide by. But there is no legal sanction against all inaction. Emotive issues are usually left out of legal sanction.
A nation has to protect its citizens, no matter what, and that protection is not decided by a measure of patriotism of those citizens. Let’s say there’s a bus full of people hanging on the cliff and the state has to rush a crane to lift them. The state will not and should not decide the fate of the people based on the collective sum total of patriotic levels of the people inside it. The fact that they are Indian citizens, a legal identity, is good enough for the state to respond. It cannot say, ‘Oh! That bus consisted of unpatriotic people! Hence we let it fall into the crevasse below’.
You can do that in a relationship, but not as a state. In a relationship, you can say, I don’t want to help you out with your hospital bills because you hate me. As a nation, you cannot say, I don’t want to give you education or employment because you love Poland more.