Plagued as it is with schismatic and seditious forces, India would do well to concert a measure on the lines of a bill passed by Japan'sParliament to encourage patriotism in the classroom.
The measure revises Japan'smain education law to require schools to encourage patriotism in the classroom for the first time since the Second World War. The Bill calls on schools to teach ?love of country? and ?public spirit? in a bid to instil national pride into impressionable boys and girls.
And that exactly is the crying need in India, where in the recent past, the doctrinaire adherence by the officialdom to secularism has spawned destructive fundamentalism and myopic minorityism.
It is said that love of one'scountry means pride in the past and ambition for the future. Those who live only in the present are incapable of such love. Before Independence what united all sections of the Indian population was the white-hot patriotism. It is that fiery aspiration that fused all divergent sections of Indian society into a formidable force against British colonialists. In other words, there was more fusion than fission then. Now there is a turnaround. Ruinous fission has replaced pre-Independence fusion. The reason: There is now very little manifestation of patriotism that one witnessed during the freedom movement.
The two post-Independence generations have been reared on the comfortable assumption that nothing can threaten our national unity and integrity. But the ubiquitous rise of centrifugal forces in different parts of the country in the recent years calls that supposition in question. One of the unfortunate aspects of our polity is that our leaders of many political hues have reached a point where they feel compelled to look at everything from the electoral angle.
Centuries-old social problems and burning economic issues such as recurrent suicides by farmers tend to take a back seat to emotive questions. Electoral opportunism of our netas has percolated down to the lowest stratum of society. Rarely do we come across a political leader who is capable of rising above electoral localism and kindling patriotism among people.
Our purblind politicians would do well to ponder an observation made by Dean Inge, the British writer, nearly a century ago. He said: ?Ignorance of the past and indifference to the future usually go together. Those who value our historical heritage will be most desirous to transmit it unimpaired.? Inge has been described as a diagnostician of the age of unrest at the beginning of the 20th century. He suggested that there was no reason why some elevated love of country should not be stimulate by appropriate teaching in schools.
It is that sagacious suggestion that is being given a concrete shape by Japan. Piloting the Bill, the Prime Minister hammered home to his people the need for Japan to stand tall. He is convinced that Japan'syoung need a patriotic education that leaves out the uncomfortable bits of the past.
Interestingly, Japan'smove comes in the wake of the final approval by the US House of Representatives, of a revised version of the Anti-terrorism Patriot Act passed by Congress after the September 11, 2001, attacks. And India, as is well known, has been bracketed by Al-Qaida with the US and Israel.
All this underscores the need for inculcating patriotic spirit in impressible boys and girls. Our secularism has created a situation where power-hungry politicians do not want to touch, even with a barge-pole, anything that has a tincture of Hinduism. Electorally motivated concern for the minorities is often measured by our contempt for and public denigration of the majority Hindus. A Hindu who prides himself on his Hindutva is dismissed as a chauvinst utterly out of sinc with glitzy modern trends.
There are some minority groups for whom anything that smacks of India and Hinduism, even if it is a proven scientific practice, is taboo. Take for example the opposition of minority leaders to the Madhya Pradesh government'smove to introduce Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) in all government schools. Yoga experts say that the yogic posture is a proven vitalizer.
But a delegation of the Muslim bodies submitted a memorandum to governor Balram Jhakar stating that Surya Namaskar was not in keeping with the tenets of Islam. Performing the yogic exercise, they contended, would have a baleful influence on the minds of Muslim students.
Earlier, a controversy had raged in many parts or India over the insistence by State Governments on recitation of Vande Mataram on the conclusion of the centenary of the national song. The song, it is well known, had for decades during the freedom struggle, kindled the dormant spirit of nationalism among all sections of the Indian population. Even now the recitation of the song revives, however briefly, heroism and patriotism in every Indian perturbed at the sprouting of threats, mostly internal, to the unity of India.
Hence the need for fostering national ethos reflecting India'sancient and resplendent cultural heritage. Why not a legislation-framed on the measure passed by Japan'sParliament?
(The author can be contacted at 16-110, Mirjalguda, Malkaj Giri, Hyderabad-500 047 (AP).)