Matter 6 – Freedom of Speech
Nationalism of Insecurity and Lunacy
Yesterday I came across a news that was doing the rounds on almost all media channels. It read “Sushma Swaraj threatens visa embargo for Amazon officials after learning about products disrespecting the Indian flag.” I opened the article, half scared to read what this article was going to do to the “trending” sentiments of the nationalists in our country.
Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister took great offense to some of the doormats that were being sold on Amazon. The doormats, to the horror of the minister, had the Indian flag printed on them. These doormats, however, were being sold on the Amazon Canada website, so one would wonder how this “blasphemy” came to the knowledge of Sushma Swaraj. Given the fact that Sushmaji is quite a sensation on Twitter, one very worried “nationalist Samaritan” took to twitter with a screenshot of the Amazon Canada site that was displaying and selling these Indian Flag doormats. As a concerned citizen, fulfilling his duty to exercise blind patriotism, he tweeted this out to Sushmaji. And Sushmaji being the Super Twitter Woman she is, did not leave any stone unturned to show these Amazon walas just how ridiculously sensitive the nationalist statements are in our country.
The tweets sent out by Sushmaji are plain embarrassing. They remind me of that one whiny classmate, who makes a big deal of everything and then threatens to complain to the headmaster if you don’t listen to him/her. It also reminds me of my mummy, who constantly threatens to not cook for me if I don’t give the TV remote to her.
How is a minister in our country allowed to “not grant visas” to someone and cancel all the visas issued so far on such ridiculous grounds? If I wasn’t from India, I would assume she is fooling around, pulling Amazon’s legs. But since I’m an “anti-national citizen” of my country, I know just how serious she is. I know that #boycottamazon is not just another trending hashtag, it represents the insecurity of the people of our nation. Sentiments towards one’s flag and country is one thing, but our reactions to this issue is lunatic and dangerous. If the Government is sending out such a message to its public, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is killed in a theatre for not standing for the national anthem.
Source credits – https://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Doormats+flag
To feed the fire of anti-nationalism burning within me, I took a good walk on Google to see if I could spot merchandises printed with flags of other countries on them. Turns out countries like Australia, Brasil, United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan and a bunch of others are not just selling doormats, but are selling items that one would most definitely get killed for wearing in India. Apart from the lingerie, boxers, and underwear, there are also the kerchiefs you blow your nose with, tank tops that show your cleavage, stickers that you can stick on your toilet pots if you like, and to my amusement, bongs that can make you very “potriotic”. The funniest part is that the Amazon Canada site is selling a wide variety of doormats with its very own Canadian flag on it.
Doesn’t this make you question the patriotism of the citizens of these countries? If it does, then you might want to stop reading this post. What you really need to wonder about is why these other countries are not burning with rage over these products? Why is the US not cancelling visas of Indian merchants selling underwear with the US flag? Why is the Brazilian government okay with people in the US sporting bikinis with Brazil’s flag on it? Why are they all not threatening and killing each other over this very “important” issue?
Because they aren’t insecure. At least not as insecure as us Indians, who flame up over anything related to the flag, the tri-color, the national anthem, and our Prime Minister. It’s because we don’t truly understand patriotism or even nationalism for that matter. We’ve been reduced to a country who gets offended by someone who doesn’t know the star cricket player of our country; someone who doesn’t know the capital of our country; someone who doesn’t know who wrote our national anthem; someone who doesn’t have legs to stand for the national anthem; someone who wants to decorate their house with a doormat depicting India’s flag; someone who doesn’t support Modi; someone who doesn’t say Bharat mata ki jai”
Art work by Jaishree Garg. All rights reserved. If reused, please use this link and give source credits.
We are knee deep into our insecurities and our leaders are only participating in this madness. How did we get here? How did we catch this “nationalism” flu? Are we really this insecure that we need every nation in the world to run on our delusional rules, our idea of respect, and our notion of wrong and right?
I am a proud citizen of India. I’m proud of the fact that it is secular, fairly liberal, and worthy of standing amongst other nations of the world. But, the “anti-national” person inside of me is ashamed; ashamed of how we are making a fool out of ourselves by focusing on such petty issues; ashamed of the priorities of my Government.