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Synopsis: The proposal to introduce a Deshbhakti curriculum for patriotism needs to be carefully analyzed.
Recently New Delhi government announced a proposal to introduce a curriculum for patriotism for school children. The suggestion is definitely welcome as loyalty towards the nation is important for the survival of any nation.
But in the current age of competitive hyper-nationalism and demonstrative patriotism, it needs to be carefully analyzed.
What is nationalism, and why does India need it?
Nationalism means close affinity with the territorial/geographical and socio-cultural landscape people live in. The love for geography, the love for history and freedom fighters, the love of cultural heritage stretching from Gautam Buddha to Vedanta are all parts of nationalism.
As the love for country is natural, it is only natural that the children should learn about it and love the country too. But India needs to be watchful of hyper-nationalism or excessive nationalism.
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What are the risks of hyper-nationalism?
The government has to urge students not to be a bhakt (attachment or fondness) of any particular deity, be it a nation, a political doctrine, or an organized religion. A Bhakt often loses the ability to decondition his mind, expand his horizon, and even critique what appears to be “sacred”.
India has many historical examples to demonstrate this. For example, fondness of Nazism, totalitarian socialism gave us racial hatred and world wars. Bhakts of greedy capitalism, religious fundamentalism and militaristic nationalism has given a world filled with nuclear weapons, technologies of surveillance and terrorism.
So a “Desh bhakti curriculum” goes against a pedagogy that encourages awakened intelligence, reflexive thinking, ethics of love and critical awareness.
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On what should the government focus more on?
The government should not focus on children mechanically reciting patriotism. Instead, the government should focus on the value systems that make the country the best.
India needs a learning methodology that cultivates qualities like empathy, compassion and ethics of care. The students should not just focus on the IIT-IIM-America path, but also aim at becoming good human beings.
For that, India needs emancipatory education characterized by critical thinking and guided by love and understanding.
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Source: This post is based on the article “Our children don’t need a ‘deshbhakti’ curriculum” published in the Indian Express on 27th October 2021.