Patriotism is only a state of mind influenced by the transient conditions of the individual: John Mathew Chandi John

Published Date:   Thursday, Apr 07, 2016

Speaking at the seminar on “Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Adventures” which was jointly organized by GRFDT and Bharati College on 7th April 2016, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist John  Mathew  Chandi  John highlighted many issues that are faced by Indian diaspora today. Being himself a part of the Indian diaspora and lived in many countries, he recounted what really constitute “patriotism”?

Patriotism of Indian diaspora is a subject demanding debate. Are they patriotic? If so are they patriotic to the country of their origin? Or are they patriotic to the country of their adoption? The vast majority of diaspora are working class or in Marxian terminology proletariats. They migrated to greener pastures to work and earn a living, not to get involved in politics or in matters of national interest. Patriotism is an emotional attachment to a country which an individual recognizes as his homeland. Karl Marx famously stated “the working men have no country and with the supremacy of the proletariat national differences will vanish.” I agree with the former part that working men have no country. Where there is work he will go there and he will call that country as his country. His emotional attachment is to that country that can feed him. His patriotism is transient; it is neither enduring nor permanent. Karl Marx was wrong in saying supremacy of proletariat will vanish the borders. Proletariat achieved supremacy to a great extent world over but instead of borders getting vanished they became stronger and harder. A large majority of the diaspora is proletariat; they ignored the manmade borders and opened up the world to become the citizens of the world. For them the dividing line between nostalgia and patriotism is very thin. Nostalgia is a lifelong sentimentality for the past while patriotism is a transient sentimentality for the present. For non-resident Indians in Gulf and similar countries patriotism is a feverish creed for they are denied citizenship in the countries where they work and hence their only hope for an identity is India. USA hosts the largest diaspora which is estimated to be 47 million; some of them are stateless, some of them are permanent residents and others are naturalized Americans. We can argue that the naturalized aliens are patriotic to the country though their emotional attachment is to their homeland. President Obama is emotionally attached to Kenya though he is the commander-in-chief of the mighty US army. By a wild figment of imagination if we consider that a war has erupted between Kenya and USA, will Obama be patriotic to USA or Kenya?. Similar situations exist in India-Pakistan relation or India-Bangla Desh relation. In conclusion I would say patriotism is only a state of mind influenced by the transient conditions of the individual.

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