Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Missing Patriotism

A bit late in the day to talk about what happened on 15th August, the Independence Day but couldn't stop myself from putting these thoughts down. In our apartment complex, we had a flag hoisting ceremony at 9.30 am and singing of patriotic songs, dance etc thereafter. The celebrations came to a close with the singing of the national anthem. I could see many small children, middle aged and senior citizen residents participating with great gusto. As I was looking around I felt something was missing and wondered what it was. Then it came to my mind that there was not a single teen there. This included my children too. Though I had given instructions to my children to get ready fast and come down they decided skip the celebrations. I was indeed sad that day that I couldn't influence my own kids to participate in what is a proud moment for millions of our countrymen.And it made me wonder - what could have led to this apparent lack of emotion of today's teens towards the country's best moment?

My personal view is that today's teens (I have to qualify the definition of 'teens' in my assessment - my perspective is based purely on observing the urban, middle - upper middle class teens and hence, might not be representative of the universe) live in a world entirely different from what their parents / grand parents did.
a. There are far too many influences / distractions they have to encounter be it TV, cricket/football, mall culture, movies, branded goods or peers. Study is just one of the many things they have to do.
b. With so much news reporting about the unclean politics, corrupt politicians, there is hardly any respect for the political system
c. They live in a world that is hugely materialistic - everything is measured in money and hence, there is a sense they are getting used to that if there's money, anything's possible.
d. There is very little time for value education - daily prayers, occasional temple visits, social interactions, learning traditional arts or even attending family functions.
Is it this change of socio-cultural ecosystem that has made them not feel that emotion of patriotism. It is almost like they are happy within their own cocoon. If one asks the youth as to what their perspective is about celebrating independence day  the answer would be that it is a day that they can enjoy and relax. I wonder if anybody would care to remember the sacrifice made by thousands of people for us to enjoy the freedom that we are enjoying today.

I was just wondering the reason for this apathy specially among our youth who feel even attending the Independence day celebration as a waste of time. Is it because the youth today are exposed almost everyday to violence and crime in the media that they have developed immunity and do not want any part of it as long as everything is hunky dory in their lives. Are they thinking 'We have enough problems already what with pressures of studies and exams' - so why bother? Is this the reason I wonder.

Is it because of the fact that our country is being run by people whose average age falls in the bracket of 60+? People in power definitely cling to it even if they are invalid or senile. So is it that the youth feel that there is hardly any scope for them to bring about that much needed change?

Or is it because a kind of pessimism has already set in that they feel nothing can be done? If this is this reason, it needs serious consideration as I feel this is more dangerous. Are we as parents equally responsible for passing on our own cynicism to our children? Are we able to stress on values like honesty, sincerity, hard work, truthfulness without sounding preachy? Everyday we hear cases of blatant corruption taking place, guilty being let off  without being punished, sincere and honest people not given due recognition. One feels things are so wrong but at the same time one feels helpless. How do we answer our children? Yes, as parents we try and inculcate good values in our children but sometimes one also wonders if these will help them when they go out to face the real world? Will this lead to frustration in them when there is a clash in the values instilled in them and the harsh realities which they will face in their future life?

Patriotism and love for one's country should come from within and cannot be forced. But there is an urgent need to rekindle the spirit of patriotism in our youth before it is too late. How do we as parents do that ? Any ideas?


Dr. Suhasini said...

True Shobana. Nice thoughts penned by you.

My father had inculcated in us the habit of watching DD on our Republic day, Beating the Retreat and on our Independence Day. I have a brother who is 14 years younger than me - I remember he would fidget, but under my father's stern glare, he would sit back. (Before he was born and in those days of no Telly,again under my father's strict instructions, I remember listening to the lovely tunes of 'Lead Kindly Light, Drummer's delight etc" on the 28th Jan and to the PM's speech on the radio on the 15th Aug). We even would stand (we even now)in attention when the National Anthem was played - in fact I used to wait in thrilling anticipation for the booms in the background that salute the National Flag.

I have inculcated the same habits in my son and hope to do the same for my future grand children!

I see my father instructing now my 5 year old nephew who is of course a boistrous, hyperactive and a monkey of sorts - only difference is that he has to repeat a couple of times - first few times in a cajoling manner and then by thundering!

True, patiotism has to come from the innards, but to sow that seed, in my opinion, the approach should be following "Saama or Dandopaayam" (Dandopaayam could be limited to stern glances).

Ranjan Prabhu said...

True but as you said it , it is upto us the parents to make our children realise the true spirit of this day and make sure that they carry the importance of this day. It basically stems from the very fact of leading a very selfish existence in which only me myself and mine are propagated. Unfortunately this is more pronounced in the educated class. Being in the Army I have still seen jawans coming to us from villages just because his dad or grandfather or the whole village considers it a matter of pride to contribute a son to the forces. I f that is not patriotism then what is? Unfortunately this does not happen in the educated upper classes.....ponder

Malek said...

Hi Shobhana,
The thing is that the teenage generation is beyond 'Mere desh ki dharti' and 'ae mere watan ke logon'. They are more into 'Maa tujhe salaam' - AR Rahman.

Having said that, they need to be fed more of this neo patriotism and also as you rightly say - they do not want to listen to old netas talking about what they did. They are more interested in knowing what will be done and how it is going to touch them.

They need to FEEL more involved to BE more involved. - they want to know what's in it for them! Selfish but true.

Today's youth do not have the patience to sit and watch the parade on TV for hours together with a morose commentator.

They need more action - more of Sukhois showing off their prowess and Army Jawans showing off their stuff and the Navy strutting their whites to feel the pulse of adrenaline and then you will see them involved.

I do not disagree with Dr. Suhasini's opinion - if one can manage to make a person sit and watch the Hon. PM address the nation from the Red Fort - it's great - but looking at the multiple channel choice it seems highly unlikely.

Maybe we can say "Yeah Hind - Jai Hind" and the teens will follow suit.

indira said...

I agree with you Shobhana.But the importence of patriotism has to come within the teenager.Nobody can force these values on them.Our role as parents is to follow whatever we say,Seeing us they will realise.Staying away from home We as a family always stand up for the national anthem.Thats what we can do here in this part of the world.Initially my son was feeling shy to sing & honour our National anthem.
Slowly he realised that we should be proud of our country.
Being a school teacher I also feel that the schools should have a weekly activities or events related to the subject.
The whole lot of the teenagers will be into the trend then.
Then its not UNCOOL as per them.
lets hope the best for the future of the country.


shobhana shenoy said...

Thank You Dr. Suhasini. I guess at that time T.V was a novelty. Watching the Independence day programme live was something that our parents and because of them we children used to listen to it with rapt attention. Somehow though we also were a generation who had not faced any war crisis, felt and still feel that rapturous moment and the pride when singing our anthem. These days using these upayas do not somehow work for our teens. Let us hope it will dawn on them before it is too late.

shobhana shenoy said...

Hey Ranjan thanks for the comment. Yes how I wish life would be less complicated and more meaningful than what it is turning out to be today. Many a time I wish that like in some of the countries even here joining military should be mandatory. This would not only bring about the much needed discipline but also make the present day youth more strong in mind as well as in body.

shobhana shenoy said...

Thanks Malek. What you mean is repackaging the whole of patriotism to make it more appealing for today's youth. Maybe some reality show on T.V which could be so designed to rekindle the spirit of patriotism. Any ideas?

shobhana shenoy said...

Yes Indira, starting out with just the simple action of standing during the singing of national anthem and singing along definitely goes a long way. Hope our school curriculum besides teaching theory could also as you mentioned do some thing practically and get our children involved right from their young age.