…and no Malayalees dead.

patriotic I always used to laugh whenever I listened to the Malayalam news channels. I agree that most of these channels have their audience out of Kerala especially in the Middle-east and rest of India and so the channels are more of a bridge that tries to connect the distance and bring the expats closer to home and vice-versa.

So what was the funny part in the news? Well this is a typical news broadcast:
“Today a massive bomb blast tore the city of Jeddah….early reports suggest it was a suicide bomber. No terrorist organization has come forward to claim the act. 54 people died in the blast. No one among them was a Malayalee!”

Well that is where used to start laughing. I mean I used to wonder, if they were upset that not a single Malayalee (native of Kerala) died in spite of their huge nomadic numbers. I mean was it an indication that 1 in every 5 middle easterners was a Malayalee and yet they escaped or were they trying to reassure that no one that mattered died?

Of course it matters when a human dies, but then who cares. If he is not from our place then he isn’t human enough.

It is so sad that even in times of calamities, we cannot rise above petty issues of race, class, religion or citizenship, but never as humans. Another story reminds me of this is unfortunate habit of ours:

When the tsunami struck the South of India many coastal villages were hit. I overheard this person mentioning proudly about the incident at the famous St. Mary’s Church in Chennai. It seems that the morning mass for Malayalees had just got in after the previous mass for Tamilians (native of Tamil Nadu). So all these tamilians were leaving the church after the mass when they were tragically struck by the tsunami wave (tsunamis generally don’t seem to care what part of the world you belong to). Hundreds of devotees perished. And this insane man was talking about how god saved the malayalees and perhaps punished the tamilians who might have been sinners.

I have nothing against the Malayalees being one myself, but I am picking on them because of my close proximity to the community and the things that I hear. I am sure that this is the case with other communities and race and religion everywhere. I am sure CNN will also always mention that: “The Taliban kidnapped 9 civilians yesterday evening as they were returning from their work. They have been held hostage with no demands made yet. Our sources confirm that no Americans are being held captive”…..and America and rest of the Islamic world will let out a collective sigh. (Though I am not sure on the current government in America feeling too happy about that because it will be opportunity missed t bomb the s**t out of the country).

We always seem to need a reason to feel patriotic. Like the Independence Day or Republic day or some movie. If we don’t find anything then we start looking for people…people who make us proud to be Indians. I mean why is it necessary to have a reason to feel patriotic. Why do you have to search for someone or something to feel proud of when patriotism is a private emotion?

I call this syndrome – ‘convenient patriotism’ which means we are patriotic only if it is convenient for us. When M.F. Hussain paints a picture that sells for millions of dollars, then he is all of a sudden the pride of India, the artist son of India and so on. Salman Rushdie gets a Booker or a Pulitzer Prize and suddenly his Indianess is published though the man must have not seen Indian soil for ages. Same was the case when Kalpana Chawla or when some candidate in the US elections becomes the senator, we start digging up their Indian ancestry and their origins. If we have to we will go back to the Ice age to dig up their origins that prove them to have some Indian connection.

And the moment these artists or cricketers or any such symbols of patriotism messes up in their respective fields, then they are traitors. Like the poor-rich M.F.Hussain who is at one time a proud painter son of India who made Indians proud by painting pictures of Madhuri Dixit besides the ones that got him millions, and in another instance when he painted naked Hindu gods he became a tyrant and traitor of Indianess. I am sure he didn’t bargain for either of the coveted statuses.

Just because you paint your face with the tricolor in cricket matches and let out a bellowing war-cry, don’t make you patriotic but just another crazy fan of the Indian cricket team. Just because somebody went to space after getting themselves trained under a foreign space program, for a foreign space program doesn’t make them a patriotic Indian. Just because you buy a few flags and sing patriotic songs composed and sung more than 50 years ago every Independence Day, does not make you patriotic.

I feel ‘Patriotism’ is about loving your country as your home. It’s about doing what you would do to make your home comfortable, clean and protected. Be it a simple gesture of not spitting in public places or taking that public transport the next time you travel or switching off that light as you move out of the room. We keep complaining about the corrupt governments or the filth in the system and yet vote for the same corrupt politicians and are the first to bribe our way out of a tight spot.

This is why I said patriotism is not something you have to wear on your sleeve but more in your heart. It’s more of a personal emotion. So how will I be celebrating this year? Of course, by renting some movies like the Independence Day or Rang-De-Basanti and buying some flags for my office after I watch the parade at Delhi on TV. Well…Happy Independence Day!


  1. We should not end up looking at them in awe and accept as a fact that they were heroes (from uor words)
    we can join army, try become IAS/ IPS do good
    or enter politics and DO GOOD,
    this is what we should if we get inspiration from em.
    I think i am going randomly, but i hope u can understand difference between socila responsibilty/patriotism, and social responsibilty s nt something 2 be called patriotism a personal emotion , from my responses.
    many of those social probs ll be gone with population prob s gone as there ll be more order..
    i am ending it here, time s a contsraint.

  2. U say:But I feel we are not on the same page when I talk about patriotism and the concept of personal emotion
    i think my explanations towards social responsibilty and Patriotism helps it

    bt i am repeating
    social responsibilty is a part of Patriotism or goes with it,
    u cant say that
    hey u ……didnt sew the seat
    u r nt patriot…

  3. u r correct abt 1 thing Pa…is personal emotion…
    like all other emotions, u can be angry u need nt be angry.. u can have desire u need nt have…but all those emotions have little to do with a thing as big as country. Many times u have to hide em…

    In the fight of Indepence Vandematharam ll have little impact if one sits in home and shuts doors and sings Vandematharam, or say shouts Inquilab.
    1. u got emotion of patriotism in abundance
    2. its of no use…
    Hope , u understood my point.. Patriotism is also emotion, it can be kept personal, the moment u keep it personal it loses its purpose.
    Before u say ,patriotism is a personal emotion : step into the shoes of real patriot Bhagathsingh/subash…many…
    imagine if u were them and think still u can say
    Patriotism is a Personal emotion.

  4. Dear Prateesh
    1. Convenient patriotism::
    When Kargil war happened, youth started enlisting for Army. Most of the time, they never think about freedom fight etc..But when the time they are SUPPOSED TO B patriotic came , they showed it.
    I beleive its rational to use Patriotism of convenience to politicians who give patriotic speeches on Aug 15th….only, and leeching resources of the country. Because patriotism is a thing of convenience to em.

    Because for those youth trying to enlist in Army at the time of war is enlisting for death, not a convenience.

    Hindus do samvatsarikam…etc.. it doesnt mean that they dont remember the elders deceased all the year, but on that specific day , do the ceremony and obviously think about em for sure( a sorrowful eg).
    Celebrating Independence day is similar(happy thing). The advantage of celebrating Indepence day – we think about all the sacrifices atleast a little? Dont you think it ll have atleast lttle impact on thinking?

    Hero worshipping?
    there s point in it, many people imitate heroes in hair style, dress…
    m trying to say, atleast 1 out of 10/100/100/10000 will be influenced.
    There s a proverb in telugu meaning you can bend a plant not a tree,
    as a kid one can be influenced better than adult.

    So if you have patriotism and if you happen to work in schools/ if u r working for newspapers
    if u do research on those many sacrifices and let the public know atleast some of the heroworshippers can be influenced towards patriotism.So i dnt mean u dnt have respect 4 em…i want u to let people know if u have opportunity…
    So patriotism is more good if you try spread it, keeping it to uorself has little use.

    I believe sewing the seat is Social responsibility, which we Indians possess little.
    When we try get a seat in a bus /train(if general)we fight. I live in Newyork, when people wait 4 bus here they make big line , while in waiting…if u r trying to jump ahead like one always tries in India, they ll nt stop us, they step behind ask us to go ahead,good nr of times the last people have to stand.
    Simply: we dnt have DISCIPLINE.
    But , one way if a person starts caring for fellow people , society n govt property..(social responsibilty) he ll turn out to be a good patriotic, provided he is brave also . Because sewing the seat is nt equal to enter a fight where 1 can be killed.
    I think if our population decreases, we ll start thinking about fellow people and social responsibilty. Just try understand it

    there s one way make it a rule, that every1 shall serve army for 1 year at the age of 18… automatically we get dicipline and many advantages.

  5. I definitely can see that you are a very proud Malayalee and therefore I can see where you are coming from in your response.

    You see by mentioning the line: “i would say we r patriotic when we r supposed to b” is exactly what I mean by convenient patriotism.

    Patriotism is not like the national parade at red fort that happens twice a year. Patriotism is a an emotion that should be engraved in our hearts. The whole idea, that you should be patriotic when you want to be, in itself is flawed.

    Patriotism is your love for the country. Some people don’t express their love some do, but everyone must act patriotically in their daily life. What are you doing to give back?

    As I said before, I feel one of the better ways of expressing your patriotism is to develop basic civic sense. I remember this incident I read in the Times of India. The author had gone to Japan on a study tour and one day while traveling in the public transport found this old lady sewing the torn seat of the bus.

    The author was surprised to see this and asked the lady why she is sewing the seat herself, since the government will take care of it. She replied that if it were a rug at her house she would done the same and she feels that this bus is hers since she uses it to travel everyday so she did it herself. Now that is patriotism which reflects through civic duty.

    This does not mean you sit a sew seats but I hope you get the gist. Paying your taxes, not spitting on roads, refusing to use plastic bags, sorting your garbage before dumping, avoid bribing, and so on….there are so many small ways of showing your patriotism in your daily life rather than wait for the right opportunity that we believe is the “Supposed to time”.

  6. I WOULD SAY EVERY INDIAN IS A HERO. whether he accepts it or not for they saythat
    ‘heroes r not born but made’ an every indian
    would rise up 2 any situation if it presents itself
    before us , for everyone has that patriotic stint
    in them which maybe hidden but will aroused
    when the need arises.so sayin that indians r
    patriotic only for there convenience is far fetched . i would say we r patriotic when
    we r supposed 2 b .

    By the way ur news on mallus is interestin and very true but i would like 2 say that the term ‘global malayalee’ is becomin the new face of the world enterin every sphere an emergin victorious . it is bcoz of their adaptablity so a mallu when dead or saved should become news
    no matter where it happens

  7. Firstly, thanks a lot Vikram. I find myself fortunate that my post got you to express your feelings in abundance. I thank you for taking the time.

    Let me make one thing clear. When I meant Patriotism is a personal emotion, that did not mean any disrespect to our freedom fighters. Expressing your gratitude and respect for their sacrifices is definitely a very important gesture.

    But I feel we are not on the same page when I talk about patriotism and the concept of personal emotion. Debates, elocutions, programs and the likes are an important medium to introduce children, students and adults alike to the concept of patriotism, but does not mean that they become patriotic.

    You mentioned a number of honorable leaders of the past who sacrificed a lot in their lives. But reliving their sacrifices is not patriotism per say, but its ‘hero-worshiping’.

    Let me be very clear. Our great freedom fighters did what they did according to the need of the time. Their actions were driven by their love for the motherland. We should not end up looking at them in awe and accept as a fact that they were heroes. What we need to understand is they were common men like us but they did have the conviction to do something for the country.

    The way we are introduced to patriotism in school is more of hero-worshiping and less of making us understand what patriotism is all about. We should be guided to act according to the need of the time. Rather than a misguided patriotism it will be more productive if people were taught basic civic sense.

    Our patriotism or love for the country does not lie in giving up our lives or joining the army, though I will never deny the enormity of these selfless tasks, but you don’t teach people to become heroes; but guide them to be good responsible citizens and thats how you can instill patriotism.

  8. i might havent known much about these people.
    But all these people make me take pride in being Indian.
    Have a great Indepence day,i missed nt..sorry

  9. good point,
    i had such an experience,
    the person sitting beside me n infront of me died in the bus accident, actually i was supposed to sit there.. i missed narrow. i FERVENTLY THANKED GOD FOR THE SAVE..i was shocked with relief, happiness.
    Suddenly, i thought about those 2 persons, one of em little alive but was immobile, he was stuck in between th lorry n bus, he was removed after 6,7 hrs when the crane came.
    i felt ashamed/guilty better say unease that i am celebrating my escape while 2 fellow…. were crashed so…. hard,died and dying.

    We indians, care 4 our home 1st, every1 is safe in our home…then place etc..
    we dnt care 4 the soldiers who get killed regularly in terrorist areas, bcos they r nt our bros,fathers…etc
    same with no malayalees dead
    they worry if their family/kin safe r nt…
    atlast we are not gautam buddha/jesus to love ..
    so dnt worry abt it much..If he is not from our place then he isn’t human enough…….

    About your patriotism of convenience….
    we are in so want of leaders that we run after every success, if there s little Indianness..
    for 2 reasons
    1.media wants 2 create hype and ..make news more attractive or appealing..
    2.We are lack of confidence, lacking leaders..
    best eg: Sunitha williams..she s no way Indain except 4 her dad, but media makes her Indian
    we cant say the same with Kalpana, she was born here studied here…we can feel her success as our , fellow indian success.

    Cricket – y 1 shall be a crazy fan to Indian team? Australian team is more professional and succesful, pakisthan team is more aggressive, SA…
    they are crazy fans for Indian team becos they are Indians…

    we keep complaining about dirty politicians, why we dont go there? we r worried abt our secure life..why we dnt try clean the dirt, we dnt want enemity with those dirty people.
    Result you have to vote for either this dirty man/that dirty man.

    Finally Patriotism is too broad an emotion that,
    i dont know if we can say its a personal emotion. As a kid in school we used to clebrate independence day, which made me know abt great fighters like Bhagath(23 years old)sukhdev…,Subhash chandra bose(left ICS job), Alluri Sitharama Raju( a rebel from vizag who left his wealthy family and gathered tribes nearby to fight British and died young), Chandra sekhar Azad,tilak,Sardar Vallabhai patel…Tanguturi Prakasam( He left his rich barister(law) practice, 1st CM of Andhra, called as Andhra kesari(kesari=lion) showed his heart for the british to shoot when they tried to bully the crowd)…Myriad number of leaders . If everybody felt personal , if there were no elocutions, debates, essay writings in our school, no celebrations. …. i might have known much about these people.
    But all these people make me take pride in being Indian.
    Have a great Indepence day,
    celebrate this year with researching on so many unselfish leaders, who never wanted name/fame, except freedom for em and their fellow people, and dnt keep it to yourself.

  10. Thank you ramer! for your comments though I must say you left me confused with whatever you wrote after the word ‘classification’. Well may be its just me losing my grip over literacy or more so diplomacy.

    But, thanks for voicing your thoughts and I appreciate you taking the time to write 🙂

  11. well i guess being a malayee also …i have been subjected to the malayee centric phenomenon of the malayam news!!!

    also being brought up in shj i agree about there being 1 malayalee among 5…..personally i think its even smaller!!

    but the classification i belive goes even deeper…
    based on the religion..whioch area of kerala one is from……

    if we were leaving in a politically correct environment as in america…..all this can be mistaken as racism…..only problem being though we are all from a single race!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.