Over the last few days, one could see nationalistic fever running high among people in Goa with the BJP strongly imploring all to hoist the tricolour (Har Ghar Tiranga) atop their houses in the run-up to the 75th Independence Day celebrations (Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav).
Our 75th anniversary of independence is no doubt an occasion for pride and happiness. But the question that comes up in the minds of a number of people is: will invoking nationalistic sentiments deal with the current crisis the State and the country are facing – rising unemployment and a stagnant economy?
The entire Har Ghar Tiranga appeal, its critics say, appears more like a nationalistic mobilisation campaign focused on politics (read Lok Sabha Elections 2024) rather than on people's welfare. It had all the hints of furthering the BJP’s political agenda in tune with its ideology.
It is a well-understood fact that nationalism evokes within us a sense of unity and pride. But at the same time, it can also lead to the marginalisation of "others". In a diverse country like ours, where does nationalism stand?
The BJP's governance, nationally and even here in tiny Goa, has been high on the rhetoric of 'achhe din' (good days), which the people of the State and country are yet to see. Will nationalism provide us with pothole-free roads that will save our spine and also save us from big medical X-ray bills?
Take a look at Goa again -- do people here endorse the idea of nationalism? Or do they really understand what the term means? It is very hard to say because we do not have a well-conducted survey to know what's there in people's minds in reality -- waving a national flag and hoisting it may be for the photo ops.
So, the question here is whether the BJP-led Sawant government should propagate nationalism or look into the welfare of its people. BJP always takes credit for reaching its welfare schemes to the poor, but no one knows for sure how these are benefiting them -- presenting a rosy report card about the schemes and who all have actually benefitted from them are two different aspects.
Propagate nationalism for all you know in Goa, but people have the right to know what's there in it for them, apart from giving them a sense of unity and pride. Will it improve their quality of life?
Looking at the cases of hate speech and intolerance the country, and even Goa, has witnessed in the recent past, the idea of nationalism should have been like a soothing balm to cultivate peace, but that has not been the case. It has, on the contrary, come as a catalyst for fostering trouble and division.
The idea of nationalism per se can be a great thing. It’s how we identify with it and act on it that really matters.
So, on this Independence Day let us look into our national conscience and take a vow to celebrate our differences and at the same time respect divergent views. Let us not kill independent thoughts.