Patriotism does not need a military tank in JNU | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Patriotism does not need a military tank in JNU

editorials Updated: Feb 25, 2016 20:58 IST
JNU

VHP, Bajrang Dal and All Nationalists students union protest against JNU. Attempting to try and instil patriotism in our students via military symbols is a dangerous path.(HT Photo)

The nationalism debate which is raging at the moment has thrown up many ideas, some innovative and novel, some downright off-the-wall. The proposal to install an army tank on the premises of Jawaharlal Nehru University falls in the latter category. The suggestion comes from a group of army veterans who feel that this will inculcate a sense of patriotism in the students, some of whom are being accused of raising slogans that have been termed, without any legal basis, seditious. Whether they were or not is now for the courts to decide. However, there is now a tussle among various factions to project themselves as super patriots. So the proposal from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing on the BJP that a wall of honour to commemorate our fallen soldiers on campus might be the appropriate way to instil patriotism comes as no surprise.

We can only wonder what next. Some military hardware in schools to promote patriotism from an early stage? It is a matter for concern that a modern, vibrant democratic state like India should need a display of tanks and stories of military sacrifices to bring out the patriot in people. Patriotism is not a value which can be inculcated by symbols of military might, it comes naturally to people and is loosely based on national pride. It could be pride in our cultural heritage, our technological prowess, scientific achievements, our thriving film industry, our great works of literature, the leaders who fought for our independence. It will vary from person to person and will depend on personal tastes. Some people feel an overwhelming sense of patriotism just listening to the national anthem. It is not something that can be implanted in a person by a show of the nation’s might. And certainly students across the world tend to abhor militaristic symbols as indicators of national pride. Such suggestions, perhaps well meaning, will vitiate the already fraught atmosphere further. The best thing would be to leave well alone and not try and add layers to the bitter controversy.

India has much to recommend for itself and enough room for dissent, even a bit of nation-bashing at times. The gentle spirit of inquiry, dissent and debate and tolerance of all points of view barring incitement to violence are the best tributes to our patriotism, not the display of tanks and guns.

The nationalism debate raging at the moment has thrown up many ideas, some innovative and novel, some downright off-the-wall. The proposal to install an army tank on the premises of Jawaharlal Nehru University falls in the latter category. The suggestion comes from a group of army veterans who feel that this will inculcate a sense of patriotism in the students, some of whom are being accused of raising slogans that have been termed, without any legal basis, seditious. Whether they were or not is now for the courts to decide. However, there is now a tussle among various factions to project themselves as super patriots. So the proposal from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, that a wall of honour to commemorate our fallen soldiers on campus might be the appropriate way to instill patriotism comes as no surprise.

We can only wonder what next. Some military hardware in schools to promote patriotism from an early stage? It is a matter of concern that a modern, vibrant democratic State like India should need a display of tanks and stories of military sacrifices to bring out the patriot in people. Patriotism is not a value which can be inculcated by symbols of military might, it comes naturally to people and is loosely based on national pride. It could be pride in our cultural heritage, our technological prowess, scientific achievements, our thriving film industry, our great works of literature, the leaders who fought for our independence. It will vary from person to person and will depend on personal tastes. Some people feel an overwhelming sense of patriotism just listening to the national anthem. It is not something that can be implanted in a person by a show of the nation’s might. And certainly students across the world tend to abhor militaristic symbols as indicators of national pride. Such suggestions, perhaps well-meaning, will vitiate the already fraught atmosphere further. The best thing would be to leave well alone and not try and add layers to the bitter controversy.

India has much to commend for itself and enough room for dissent, even a bit of nation-bashing at times. The gentle spirit of inquiry, dissent and debate and tolerance of all points of view barring incitement to violence are the best tributes to our patriotism, not the display of tanks and guns.