Yesterday Sushma Swaraj, the current Foreign Minister of India, threatened Amazon to remove from its Canada store an item or face severe consequences. The item in question is a doormat with the Indian flag and the consequences are the denial of visa to Amazon officials and even rescinding of the visas of Amazon execs already here. At this point, I do not have any appropriate adjective to express what I feel about this whole matter. If I had to explain my thoughts in one phrase, it would be “why is this happening?”.
Sushma Swaraj is one of the few politicians I personally admire and all this admiration has been earned by her acts as a person in power working for the common man. She is very active on social media and has effectively used social media to help Indians world wide. Even save Indians. But this time it seems she is trying to save India. Now the way I look at it, India cannot be saved. This is not the normal cynical or naysayer POV of looking at the malice in India and just saying that India cannot change. India that she is trying to save is not the physical country which is named India. It’s not the land, the skys and the air of India that she is trying to save but the India in question here is the concenpt or the notion of India. The India that exists in the history books. The India that exists in the minds of the people, Indians and others. The first mistake one could do would be even assuming that this India can be attacked or harmed. Even worse, thinking that this India can be affected by a doormat print is, in my thoughts, us not being very confident about the strength and perseverance of India. Now I do not, in any way, condone the act of using the Indian flag as a doormat. I am pretty sure out constitution and the justice system have defined rules about how the flag has to be treated but I for one am really unhappy about the public display of pseudo (or real) patriotism and the aggression that follows. Let us not delude ourselves. If someone wants a doormat with the Indian flag, he will get it. If not from Amazon, someone else. If no one is selling it, he will get it custom made. Would it make sense to make it a mission to find such people, across the world, and make them respect us. In the entire history of civilization, has this ever worked for anyone except tyrants and despots and do we want to be listed with the likes of Hitler and Kim Jong Un. The issue which could have been easily resolved by a single simple email is not a shit-show (yes!) for the entire world to see and mock. There is no scenario in which we as Indian come out at the top when this ends. For every step that we take forward as a nation, these things take us 2 steps back.
And all this is happening because we think India needs to be saved, can be saved and we have to save it. No. India cannot be saved. Indians may be and should be. But India doesn’t need saving. India is bigger than any of us. Such small incidents cannot even scratch the surface let alone do any harm. But yes we can,for sure, harm it from the inside if we keep behaving like this. India doen’t need your patriotism. It just wants you to be sensible.
PS: I feel the need to mention this explicitly that patriotism is not my strongest trait and I am pretty vocal about it. I am not writing this out of my love for Indian flag but only becuase I am, in the end, an Indian and this affects me.
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