I was born in 1981. Independence is already a few centuries into history. Despite the incursions and little tiffs now and then, loss to China is no memory at all, and apart from a few idiots, few believe in the need for military posturing there.
No more wars with Pakistan have happened so far. Kargil was over too soon. Despite the media jingoism, the life of a man on the street was not affected in any manner. To those concerned, it was a victory over Pakistan and even more entertaining than Yash Chopra’s Mahabharata. Somehow, it all ended in some confusion about coffins and spoilt all the moral superiority fun everyone was having.
Then, there was Pokharan. In a way, after my birth, that’s one event which rallied maximum number of people around the country. Flags were sold, media went berserk, the image of that mushroom cloud had, somehow, summed up our collective visions for our country. I was young, confused and appalled by the general euphoria. I knew a massive bomb had gone off somewhere. The only difference was that we had planned and planted this one.
I don’t remember the instances when I felt overwhelming patriotism. I guess, these elections will rank at the very top. The most divisive elections in my living memory, this one is not about electing a government, it’s about our ideas for the nation. Though development is the official agenda, all the people I have met are more passionate than 24/7 water and power issues can make them.
More than over before, these elections are personal. As a guy in office said, finally, India will be strong like Israel. The thought would have been comic if it were not so dreadful. The point being everyone has an opinion and is willing to fight for it. Social media has made nationwide conversations possible and discounting the trolls, has provided a platform for passionate discussions. The exceptionally long elections have allowed microscopic analysis of every issue and prolonged clash of opinions.
Patriotism is what you feel when you have a personal vision for the nation and love it enough to fight for it. This is the closest I have got to it.