Wednesday 10 Aug 2022

Call to upload national flag: Is this a test of people's patriotism?


India could well be sporting the tricolour all over on the occasion of the country’s 75th anniversary of Independence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” is turning into a mass movement and has asked people to upload a picture of the national flag to profiles on social media accounts from August 2 to 15. He asked the people to hoist or display the national flags at homes during the campaign. In Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant relayed the PM’s message to the people of the State.

The Mahotsav aims to form a mass movement taking along people from all walks of life and every section of society. The very thought of the tricolour being displayed over crores of social media accounts may sound exciting, but will it truly reflect one’s patriotism? The tricolour and national anthem stirs every heart and connects citizens to their motherland, and whether it is displayed on social media accounts or not, that sense of belonging to India will not change.

While the dilemma is whether to upload the image or not, the message to use the tricolour on profiles will only create confusion in the minds of citizens of being considered unpatriotic if not following the dictates. This is terrible and against the essence of a free India because a profile picture cannot be used to measure up the level of one’s patriotism. This could snowball into something unsavoury given the fact that nowadays even patriotism is seen through a religious prism.

Instead of engaging people in such pointless exercises, the 75th anniversary of Independence should be a moment where the political class renew vows of unity and a free India. There is a need to revisit individual freedom, civil liberties and the fundamental rights of citizens. There is a need to restore the respect of institutions that is corroded. A mass movement that seeks to take people of all hues along would be futile against the backdrop of the strife and discord that is witnessed today. Seventy-five years later, people need only reassurance that their basic rights as citizens will be protected, and guaranteed.

As long as there is intolerance to dissent, as long as there is no room for a two-way discourse, as long as there is the “my way or the highway” policy, and as long as there is communal hate, flexing patriotism with a picture of the flag would be a meaningless exercise.

Instead of getting into social media optics, it should be a moment to cherish the success stories of India and also introspect hard on the abject failures. Modi will certainly have a lot to showcase, but against that, the government cannot ignore unemployment, pervasive illiteracy, the welfare of citizens and poverty among sections. There are so many issues that we need to ponder over as a nation and so many areas that governance has fallen short. The overwhelming emotion on reaching this milestone is subdued only because the failures are glaring.

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