This time on Feb 14, Valentine’s day, there was a different tune being played. No mushy music, no poetic verses for the lovers, no romantic serenades. All this change came not because of some right wing extremists who wanted to protect our culture (though yes it did happen because of some other extremists). This year in India the emotions for the day had a patriotic fervour.
The unmatched cowardice attacks in Phulwama by JeM and then the retaliatory air strikes deep inside the Pakistan borders by the mighty IAF fighters sparked once again the feelings of deep patriotism in the whole country. There were umpteen news coverages, analyses, interviews of the eyewitnesses, on the innumerable raucous news channels, each trying to outdo the other. Newspapers, not wanting to be left behind (what with the already dwindling readers’ population), had the front pages screaming with adrenaline pumping headlines. Yes, I absolutely agree that the actions of our brave hearts need to be told, and retold, to every true citizen of this country. But how much is needed to be told has to be decided.
Covering stories is one thing but getting intrusive and insensitive is a totally different game. Haven’t we learnt nothing from the blunders of our earlier coverages during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai? The constant on-the-spot coverages, giving details about the troop movements and security covers outside the various locations, live in-depth analysis by the think-tanks, helped the masterminds more than it helped our own soldiers. After that attack also there have been instances when during encounters in the valley, the news channels have tried to cover the story from as close a range as possible, sometimes even following the soldiers as they fight the terrorists. I think this is insane. Isn’t there even one sensible person in all the news channels who can see the stupidity of the whole thing? I mean it doesn’t need a degree from MIT (or IIT, in our case) to understand that some things are off-limits. Like sharing details of where the soldiers are deployed, troop movements, security exercises, et al?
And to add to all this senseless advertisements of what happens to be a routine job for the men in uniform, is the sudden spurt of patriotism. What? Got up in the morning and felt patriotic after reading the headlines? Why wasn’t it there yesterday? And I’m sure it won’t last beyond the week. By then the news guys would have got something else to flog and exploit. Yesterday when coming back from work, saw a huge crowd gathered near a major crossroads, shouting Jai Hind and Bharat Mata ki Jai. Great! it was nice to see people finally take pride and identify with their own country. But instead I got pissed, really pissed. How does shouting slogans, stopping traffic and creating chaos on the streets prove your patriotism? Do it through other more welcome actions like paying your taxes, not littering or defacing every wall or tree or statue, not vandalising government property at the smallest of excuse, following traffic rules, and other many more equally mundane and boring actions.
There are cries for war. That we should attack our truant neighbour and show them our might. Hey, it’s war you are taking about, not some blockbuster with beefy heroes and sinister looking villains. The war will affect everyone, not just the ones fighting it – do our armchair patriots realise this? Forget the economy or the political fallout. Think about it as a human being, someone blessed with a heart and a brain. We want a war but our own lives should not get affected. Let the soldiers fight, it’s their job. Right? Have you thought about their families, what they would be going through right this moment, not knowing if he is safe or dead or alive or injured? Believe me, it’s not as romantic as Hritik Roshan made it look in Lakshya nor is it as cool as Vicky Kaushal in Uri. So the next time you hear some newbie patriot talking pro-war, use logic to argue your point.
A patriot doesn’t need the uniform to exhibit his or her feelings. It’s there and will always be. I might have hung up my uniform but that doesn’t mean I’m any less patriotic than I was. But this kind of seasonal patriotism really, really gets to me. Tomorrow these very same people will forget every thing and the soldiers will be back to protecting our borders, like they have been doing all these years, thanklessly. Sad truths of our lives. Grim realities of the lives of our soldiers.