I’ve felt extra patriotic all week, mostly because of the Republic Day ceremony. My favourite part was the Indonesian chief guest’s name – Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – which sounds like the most badass Gujju porno ever.
The BJP-Congress Flag War was also interesting; especially with Sushma Swaraj using Twitter to send updates like “Detained at Jammu airport”, “Being sent to Punjab” and “Dammit! Yamla Pagla Deewana still housefull here!! </3”
While our leaders may be new to the web, the average self-appointed “patriot” figured out its power long ago. The net gave everyone a voice, but it turns out that this wasn’t a great idea because most people online are – how do I say this – stupid.
It’s amazing how people online know exactly what’s wrong with India, and also how all their opinions (usually found scattered across Rediff) fit the following templates : a) Your mother is of ill-repute, b) Everyone who disagrees should go to Pakistan and fellate a goat and c) The nation’s media are doing nothing to solve real issues (Not true. Every time you light a media-sponsored virtual candle, somewhere a Maoist lays down his arms and takes a bath)
Online patriotism is the easiest of all, which is why I’m glad the internet didn’t exist during the Raj. The freedom struggle then would’ve been limited to clicking the ‘dislike’ button on Elizabeth’s FB page, making your own virtual salt on Dandiville, and sharing blurry pictures of the famous man who answered the door at Edwina Mountbatten’s house in his night-clothes (It may have been Shahid Kapoor)
I’m guilty of pop patriotism too. In 2006, days before my engineering finals, I joined the anti-reservation movement. This may have been partly inspired by Aamir in Rang De Basanti and partly by the fact that many medical and engineering students were being used as target practice for water cannons (This was a burning issue back then, although we’ll admit that the hostel guys were never cleaner)
The agitation went online, to Orkut (which then, was brand new and hep, unlike now, where simply typing the URL can earn you four stalkers) Marches, signature campaigns, urinating on Arjun Singh’s veranda – everything was discussed and planned online, and the movement spread faster than vomit on a fancy rug.
My ‘commitment’ lasted until I got my first job, after which I’ve only worked for the Republic of Ashish Shakya.
TV’s great for pop patriotism as well. For example, MTV recently drafted a Youth Constitution (a document that includes the demands of the youth, as sent in by viewers) that will eventually make its way to the Prime Minister. It’s probably ‘typd lyk dis’ and demands the setting up of a ‘National Roadie Training Centre’ (or as everyone else calls it, Chandigarh)
Also, with the World Cup coming up, patriotism will soon be associated with Pepsi’s new slogan i.e. ‘Ungli Mein Tingly’, at which point our five remaining freedom fighters will dig up the Wankhede pitch and then forget what they came for.
Seriously though, what India needs is a credible leader. We need someone who knows his job, someone who isn’t swayed by money, someone with a mass appeal – OH MY GOD, we need Aamir Khan. And if you disagree, there’s a goat in Pakistan that would love to see you.
(Note: This is my HT column, dated 30th Jan 2011)