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I want to wear my Nationality on my person

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Four years back, just before Independence Day, I was driving down and saw an old man selling pins with small metallic National tri-colour flags for five rupees. I bought four of them, more out of pity for the elderly man braving the sun and heat in urban traffic, and started wearing them in rotation every day. For the first few days nothing happened. No one seemed to take any notice of this new appendage on my shirt. Then I started seeing curious looks. “Hey, Independence Day is long over” they said, “why the flag?” Some people even passed sarcastic remarks, “you don’t have to wear your patriotism on your chest every day”, they said. I waited for days and weeks, but I hardly ever received any positive comment or appreciative remark.

It set me thinking. People wear their religion, caste, political affiliations on their sleeve, and it is accepted. Everywhere I turn around I see people flaunting their faith or their community – on their foreheads, in their dress, through ornaments, and even on the dashboards or windscreens of their cars. It is well established and accepted that you would like to announce your identity to all and sundry, and no one gives it a second thought.

I want to wear my Nationality on my person wherever I go, because I genuinely love my country and am proud to be an Indian – and my friends treat it either as a joke or something to be ridiculed. We can flaunt our religious beliefs, wear our caste on our forehead, but we are not comfortable with someone wearing his nationalism on his sleeve. It is not that I am a diehard or extreme patriot – but I am a proud citizen of this great country, and I hardly have any other regional or parochial affiliations. My language, religion, caste, region or political affiliation are very minor in comparison to my identity as an Indian – and I would like others to know this fact, through a tiny metallic tricolor flag proudly worn on my chest.

I have now become immune to the quizzical and funny looks. As long as possible I will continue with this little crusade of mine, even if I am the only one around doing so. I know the worth of being an Indian in this free, democratic and progressive country. I need India more than India needs me. And I am looking for like-minded people to join the caravan.

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