I recollect some time back I had received a mail from one of the old colleagues with patriotic fervour highlighting glory of India largely citing illustrations from the data compiled on achievements of Indians serving abroad which inter alia included a high percentage of Indian doctors, engineers and scientists working in the multinational companies such as Microsoft, IBM etc. and US Institutions like NASA.
While I had no intention to undermine the work of Indians serving abroad or overlook their contributions, I responded back to my old colleague citing many instances of growth and development within the country largely on account of individual and collective contributions made by dedicated Indians while serving within the country. During these years, I have seen many people taking proud about self or their ward or kin having gone abroad to work particularly in western countries or settled there enjoying life and simultaneously taking digs at the backwardness or evils of the homeland. Then I have also come across situations when the person(s) had a choice between working abroad or staying within own country, and he (or she) settled for the latter choice with a zeal of working for own country.
The other day I happened to see a report on the patriotism among the citizens of various nations. The report was a few years old and the top ten of the most patriotic nations included countries like USA, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Israel etc. while the least patriotic ten countries were likes of Latvia, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, France etc. India did not figure in either of the lists but on the degree of patriotism, she was placed quite low.
From the list, one would tend to surmise that the people in the countries which were under slavery or occupation of colonial powers at some point of time, have a fairly high degree of sentiments of nationalism and patriotism. On the other hand, countries who might have seen inner conflict and turmoil during the course of history but were largely free from external influence or supremacy, have relatively a lesser degree of patriotic sentiments. Perhaps sentiments of patriotism become more pronounced in trying and testing situations.
If we have a look at the Asian nations, a majority of them were under the imperial or dynastic rule or under occupation of colonial powers for long and got independence only around the middle of twentieth century or even later. Many of these countries like Japan, China, South Korea, and even smaller ones like Singapore and Philippines, have developed at the much faster rates in the past few decades as compared to India. If one tries to look into reasons, obviously such reasons would be many but two most important ones which one can easily notice, are as follows. First, all of them have very high sentiments and regard for their homeland and language; secondly, they believe in hard work in whatever field they serve. It is perhaps for many of us to have introspection where do we really stand on these counts?
The country has made significant progress on various fronts since independence. Also there is no doubt that the nation has a vision and agenda for self reliance in many critical areas. It has also got many long term programmes for sustained growth and development. But the country is still besieged with the major problems like unemployment, corruption, poverty, illiteracy and favouritism. It would not be out of place to mention that these evils are eating out much of the progress of the nation. The spirit of nationalism and patriotism indeed inspires us to keep the interest of nation supreme while working in whatever field, while hard work leads to higher productivity irrespective of the field of working whether it is industry, agriculture or even routine office work. Hence for the proper development and growth of a nation, love and loyalty to motherland and hard work are key parameters.
We often hear about the slogans of internationalism and universal brotherhood. Many believe that the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was a strong advocate of true internationalism. There are different perceptions and opinions but in essence, internationalism is a true appreciation of the diverse culture of people and a desire for world peace with greater economic and political cooperation among nations. Proponents of internationalism believe not only being a citizen of a country but also a citizen of the world at large. Same way, the essence of the universal brotherhood is to unite people regardless of nationality, belief, gender and socio-economic status amalgamating religion, science and art for the universal cause and intellectual upliftment.
Looking at the entire globe as a single entity with the spirit of internationalism and universal brotherhood could indeed be a dream vision and ultimate goal of humanity but this can be achieved only with an all round development and inclusive growth of all nations. So long some of the more developed countries with their advantageous socio-economic and political position for historical reasons would continue to follow the restrictive and self-centric policies, and monopolistic trends to control global wealth and resources for their use, with other countries remaining unable to meet even basic needs and to provide sufficient opportunities to own people minimizing brain drain aggravated by human greed, this dream vision of internationalism and universal brotherhood will continue to allude the humanity. In such a scenario, perhaps true nationalism and patriotism stand as the ground reality and a far more down to earth option.