Are You a Nationalist? (What Makes You Think So?)

“I am a Hindu nationalist.”

The Indian prime minister, Mr. Narendra Modi’s statement, created a lot of controversies once.

People started asking each other, “Are you a nationalist? What kind?”

TV news channels conducted debates about nationalism, and still, nobody can answer who is a nationalist and who’s not.

Let’s keep the politics behind nationalism aside. The fact is that most of us take pride in calling ourselves, nationalists. But have you ever thought if you really are a nationalist or just pretending to be one?

“What do you mean “pretending to be one?” Are you questioning my nationalism?”

Exactly!

You see, questioning forces you to clarify your thoughts, values, and priorities.

When someone asks, “Are you a nationalist,” do you even think for a second before answering, or do you blurt it out as if the answer was sitting right on the tip of your tongue?

Does being nationalist mean chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai,” “Hindustan Zindabad,” and “Tera Vaibhav Amar Rahe Maa, Hum Din Char Rahein Na Rahein?”

So, What is “Nationalism?”

Now, since I am questioning your nationalism, it’s my moral obligation to clarify my definition. And what better day to talk about the topic than the very day when India had earned her Independence, 15th August?

I shall begin with an incident that happened in 2006.

At that time, I worked as a TV host for a health and lifestyle TV channel in West Delhi, and Delhi Metro was the lifeline of my daily commute.

On a particular day, the Metro got delayed. There were some technical glitches, and the Metro was running a bit late than its scheduled time.

The Metro personnel were unable to resolve the issues, and hence they canceled the services.

The station where I de-boarded was jam-packed.

I noticed many people shouting slogans, “Delhi Metro hai hai” (Down with Delhi Metro). And wondered if people had forgotten the pathetic ‘Blueline’ buses?

Have You Forgotten the “Blueline Bus Era”

I haven’t.

Those were horrible times:

Overcrowded buses.

Ill-mannered conductors.

“Gutkha” chewing helpers.

And bloody impatient drivers.

At times you had to yell at the driver to get him to stop the bus at your bus stop. Have you forgotten?

Even if you left on time, there was no certainty you’ll reach your institute, college, or office at the time you’re supposed to.

Just imagine traveling in a blue line bus in scorching heat in May. I still remember the sweat, the stink, and the helplessness while traveling on a blue line bus. It was hell.

The mere mention of those times makes me shiver.

And then came Delhi Metro.

Initially, people were skeptical of its services, but more and more people started using it by and by.

It was air-conditioned, convenient, and free of sudden stops (unlike blue line buses). The best part was that people began getting sure about the time of the journey.

They started leaving home by calculating the time required to reach station A to station B. Peace of mind was plenty.

And since then, the Delhi Metro has been serving us in the most professional way possible.

I Am Thankful to Delhi Metro

It’s because of the Delhi Metro that you’re reading this article.

Confused?

I started this blog in 2011 after my PD classes at Subharti University got over.

And it was Delhi Metro that made commuting from my home to Meerut possible. I was supposed to reach Noida City Center Metro station by 0700 hrs daily. Had Delhi Metro not been there, I couldn’t have said yes to that assignment.

Why am I praising Delhi metro? What does it have to do with nationalism?

They aren’t related, are they?

Actually, they are.

“Nationalism” requires you to be grateful to your nation. “Nation” is an intangible word, which means you cannot touch it or hold it in your hands.

The interesting part?

Nobody is a nation. And yet everybody is (and that includes public transport too).

Delhi Gave Me a Dignified Life

A large number of people in Delhi are migrants (including myself).

Born in Western Uttar Pradesh, did primary schooling in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, I came to Delhi in 1986 (I was in 4th standard).

My old school friends left behind. And I was resentful towards Delhi because it had snatched away the golden period of my childhood.

But then, the more I experienced Delhi, the more I started respecting it. After all, what did I have when I came here?

Barely anything.

All the skills I learned, all the opportunities I benefited from—schooling, college, and everything else was a gift from a city that had welcomed a stranger years ago with open arms.

It’s Delhi that had given me a roof over my head.

Now, I have decent employment, clothes to wear, food on the table, and a reasonably good life. Could it have been possible had Delhi rejected me? I doubt it.

I am a blogger and a voice actor. Had I been in my old city, Haridwar, I probably could never have become a voice actor.

Why am I saying this?

Because many people from smaller towns phone me to ask how to become a voice-over artist, they can probably never become one because the city they live in does not have that kind of opportunity.

Of course, they are talented. But talent needs a platform.

So, Are You a Nationalist?

It breaks my heart.

When I notice people calling names to the city, which has given them a respectable life, ask yourself, “Had it not been for this city, could I have been what I am today?” And you’ll have your answer.

Yes, there are problems—corruption, horrible traffic, congested roads, crimes, etc. Things are unfortunate enough to make any responsible citizen edgy and concerned.

But is calling names to the city, which provides you with bread and butter, justified?

Let’s say the roof of your house leaks, and in the rainy season, the water gets accumulated inside. Would you go out and start shouting, “My house hai hai?”

For me, nationalism means having respect for the city I live in. A nation is made up of towns and villages. Every inch of the land you step on is your country.

Can a person who doesn’t respect the very city he lives in be respectful towards the entire nation?

Can he be a Nationalist?

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