by Manavi Nag

With all the recent turmoil that India has been facing from the ongoing Famer’s Protests, the consequent jailing of activists such as Disha Ravi and even journalists, have led to many instances where the lines between patriotism and nationalism are blurred. 

What exactly are patriotism and nationalism, and how are they different from one and another? Where does one draw the line?

What is patriotism?

Patriotism is a deep pride and love for one’s country. It embodies a sense of attachment, devotion and service one has to their country and is usually harmless for the most part. Examples of Patriotism are evident in  sporting events when fans are cheering passionately for their country to win. However, Patriotism does recognise the mistakes and shortcomings of the country, despite having a deep love for the same country. Patriotism in practice allows people to be open to discussions and debates about the country and are cognizant of other citizens’ patriotism in other countries with respect. 

What is nationalism?

On the other hand, nationalism is an ideology that also has a deep pride and love for one’s country, no matter what. Nationalism is a sense of attachment and love for a country that is unconditional, so people do not recognise mistakes and shortcomings. Instead, they believe their country can do no wrong and will quickly be defensive in discussions and debates about it. “Patriotism nurtures a feeling of ‘responsibility’ in the citizens while nationalism breeds ‘blind arrogance’ or ignorance,” says India Today. 

What is the difference?

The ideologies both have very similar values at the core, however, the small difference of acknowledging one’s country can do wrong and thinking your country can do no wrong at all, is where we should draw the line between patriotism and nationalism. Unconditional love should not be reserved for countries, because as citizens it is important to hold your country accountable for their mistakes. That is patriotism, a responsibility to improve your country by holding the people in power accountable, no matter how hard it may be, so that the same things don’t happen again. Nationalism fails to do this because it overlooks valid criticisms as hate and believes that their country can do no wrong. Naturally, this belief system is harmful. 

What are some instances of this?

In the age of social media, and everyone has an opinion about everything going on, we have seen a lot of patriotism and nationalism being used interchangeably. However, as already highlighted, there is a large difference. 

The concept of “love jihad;” is the ideal Muslim men trick Hindu women into falling in love with them only to get the women to convert to Islam, as part of a larger war on India. This concept can easily be dispelled through countless amounts of real-life examples however, the concept is a product of nationalism being masked as patriotism. It uses the facade of being in the best interests of India and preserving “Indian/Hindu” ideals however it fails to notice that it is a discriminatory and Islamaphobic concept that is prejudiced towards Muslims. There is nothing patriotic about controlling who people fall in love with. This love-jihad concept is an extension of the Muslim-Hindu tensions in India, worsened by the people in power. The divide that is strengthening between Muslims and Hindus in the name of patriotism is just nationalism as it harms a large population of people. 

In conclusion, it is important that one is able to tell the difference between nationalism and patriotism, especially in today’s world, where we are constantly being challenged politically. Let’s keep unconditional love reserved for family and friends and not for our countries and governments.

Manavi Nag is a the co-head and of the Ascent. She is in the 9th Grade and strives to use her voice for change. She likes spreading awareness and opinions through her articles to her community and the world. She enjoys writing articles, dancing and travelling. Manavi is extremely passionate about the Ascent and wants to use her voice for change in the world, as a teenage journalist living in the 21st century.