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Posted at: Sep 15, 2019, 7:05 AM; last updated: Sep 15, 2019, 7:05 AM (IST)

‘Patriotism’ games schoolkids must play

Jug Suraiya
Jug Suraiya
‘Patriotism’ games schoolkids must play
Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Jug Suraiya

HAVING introduced special ‘Happiness’ classes in the curricula of sarkari schools in Delhi, the AAP government is planning to introduce the teaching of ‘Patriotism’ so that, as one minister put it, students learn to be good citizens who “pay taxes, stop at red lights” and follow other traffic rules and are “ready to sacrifice everything for their country”.

Two small school kids, a girl and a boy, are trudging to their school, Bharatiya Bal Mandir, bent almost double under the weight of their backpacks that are crammed with textbooks, exercise books, and other academic paraphernalia… 

Boy: As if we already didn’t have enough stuff to mug up, now the sarkar wants us to study even more by learning a whole new thing called patriotism, and I’m not sure I even know what it means, let alone pass exams in it. 

Girl: Well, maybe that’s why the sarkar wants us to study it so that we get to know what it means.  Which I think means you’ve got to love your country, and be ready to sacrifice everything for it.

Boy: Love our country and be ready to sacrifice everything for it?  But our country is very, very large and includes that big bully Rohit in our class who beats me up whenever he has the chance and whom I hate.  I wouldn’t want to sacrifice anything for him, let alone everything.

Girl: I don’t think patriotism means you’ve got to sacrifice everything for individual people, but for the country as a whole.

Boy: What’s the country as a whole? Does the country as a whole mean the sarkar?  Do we have to sacrifice everything for the sarkar?

Girl: I don’t think so.  Sarkars keep changing in a democracy.  Or, at least, they’re meant to, at election time, thanks to something called the anti-incumbency factor. So the sarkar you’re meant to feel patriotism towards today, and sacrifice everything for, might become quite a different sarkar tomorrow. I think patriotism’s got to do with geography and means you’ve got to love and be ready to sacrifice everything for the place where a map tells you you live.

Boy: But what about Tinku who used to live here in Dilli till her daddy got a Green Card and they all went off to live in Amreeka?  Will she have to stop being patriotic to India and start being patriotic to Amreeka? Like we have to wear one sort of uniform in our school, but if we change schools we’ll have to wear another sort of uniform?

Girl: I guess so. And like there are so many different schools, each one with its own different uniform, there are so many countries in the world, each one with its own patriotism. So, I suppose if, for any reason, you have to go from one country to live in another country, you have to change your patriotism, give up your old patriotism and get yourself a brand new patriotism.

Boy: Gosh. I have a feeling patriotism is going to be a very difficult subject to learn.

Girl: Maybe that’s why the sarkar is making it into a school subject — because it’s all so subject-ive….


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