Why All The Pride?

When George Carlin rants about the folly of pride for one’s country, one is forced to take a look at one’s own stand on such issues. George rightly says pride is something that should only be reserved for something one has personally achieved. If one is proud to be an American, one should also be proud of being (in his words) predisposed to colon cancer.

That brings one to an interesting thought. We may agree when Carlin is ranting on about Americans but what if  he says the same thing about Indians? Would and should any Indian be really proud of being Indian? One’s obvious instinct would be to say “Yes, of course!” and then look suitably outraged at the very audacity of the suggestion that one should not be.

But if one thinks about it and I mean really thinks about it critically and without personal prejudices, isn’t the fact that we are born Indian merely an accident of birth? Wouldn’t we be equally (and wrongly) proud of Nigeria or East Timor if we were citizens of those countries?

Let us think about even more specific cases. Not too long ago, it was quite the fashion to be part of groups such as, “I am from Mumbai and that automatically makes me ten times cooler than you” ditto for Chennai or Delhi or Imphal. How pray did anyone have a choice as to where he or she was born? Was it not mere chance that one was born to Hindu, Muslim or Catholic parents? How can we be proud of being Marathi or Tamil?

Coming back to India, there might be extreme reactions to the very suggestion that one should not be proud of being Indian. People would say, “What about Gandhi, Bhagat Singh or Subash Chandra Bose? Did they not die so that we could be an independent nation? Aren’t you proud of that?” To them I would say, no I am not proud that they died. I am supremely grateful. Pride about someone else dying for something is misplaced.

To question the reasons for their sacrifice, did they die to see a free India? I believe the answer is no. They died to see a free people. They died so that people south of the Himalayas could mind their own affairs without the rules imposed by people who had no business in doing so. Did Gandhi not begin his work in South Africa? He certainly did not endeavour to create an Indian state there. He merely fought for equality of man. National pride has no bearing on the issue. In a few hundred years when borders are eliminated, wouldn’t we as a species together look back and laugh at statements like,” I am better than you or my nation is better than yours because I come from India and you come from Pakistan?”

To an arguement by a friend who said, “If tomorrow you win an award for best student, shouldn’t your parents be proud of you?” My answer would remain negative. My parents can be happy I won something. I and only I have the right to be proud of it, should I choose to.

The questions is about the misplaced semantics of the word “pride”. Over time it has been blurred with the word “happy” so that one is indistinguishable from the other. The root cause of this is the peculiarly human need to feel one is better than others. It doesn’t matter whether that quality or event that makes one stand out is a personal achievement or not. And it is where one should try to be impartial and draw the line. Be proud of your personal achievements and be happy about all the accidents that have occurred in life because clearly, not all of them are bad.



Filed under Opinion

11 responses to “Why All The Pride?

  1. one should be proud only of what they themselves have done…makes so much more sense.

    It makes no sense trying to get part of the praise for what someone else has done by saying “I am proud”

  2. Abhijeet

    Ahh now something i can relate too.

    When folks come to the US regionalism rules supreme in choosing roommates. Then these roommates gang up and try to argue with others over why their city is better. So we have gladiatorial Delhi v/s Mumbai, “Madras” v/s North battles.

    Why because everyone’s proud of their city!!

    Such pride is downright stupid. I mean Mumbai or Delhi aint great because you live there. It just is that way. So is Nigeria or East Timor.

    Secondly yeah pride has become blurred with happy but then i see no point in trying to seperate them. Just look at the meanings “fuck” has acquired over the years. We probably use it as a metaphor for everything in life. Neway nice post

    And just to let you know, I have an assignment due tom morning 😛

  3. Abhijeet

    And just to clarify. I still wont stop taking the mickey out of Delhi. And Mumbai is still the best city in the world. Vada Pav Rocks!!

  4. randomabstractions

    Quotes Rohit :
    “nations are just ideals
    with time those lines that seperate us too will dissolve
    when we think of gandhi or bhagat singh or subash chandra bose, people think they were fighting for india to be independent
    but were they not in reality fghting for the freedom of the people of india?
    why have needless national pride then?
    why be offended as a nation and not as a people?
    as a species? ”

    Brilliant thought.
    Something I’ve always wondered. I am proud of the fact that I am what I am (however small a person I maybe 😛 ) and am not defined by a religion and nation. We do have indigenous traits-but they are more a matter of chance than a reason for unwarranted pride.I hate the mindless shit that Mera Bharat Mahaan. No one doubts that boss- but you do at least something for the nation first !

    Your past 2 posts have been fun. There is subjectivity seen.

    Keep writing !

  5. Chinmay

    Very well put. Most people in this country are spending a greater portion of their energies in things that have no relevance at the global level.

    Feeling proud about one’s clan, community and trying to behead anyone else who thinks otherwise, is just an example.

  6. Very Very true indeed.We will all be content by taking pride in the fact that we belong to the same nation as Gandhi.I am sure Tendulkar spent very little time in his history lecture taking pride about India’s much glorified freedom fighters and their sacrifices or about how Indias 1983 Victory.He believed more in personal toil.That is why we now take pride in him now.

  7. Very nice post!
    Interestingly, wars are waged on silly little things. And the fuel that burns the fire – pride.
    All said and done, pride is the fuel that propels people as well as burns them.
    Keep writing. Your posts are definitely thought provoking.

  8. divyanshu

    as a national sentiment…pride may be misplaced…but then i dont think it is possible to say now i love my country and now it is pride…. besides are people of east timor not proud of their origin? besides off late..there has been line of thought that people coming from small towns take immense learning and thus pride from their small town heritage….ppl like shekhar gupta, prasoon joshi, sunil mittal… the point being fanaticism is bad, but pride is just an extension of love and respect..as far as parents should not be proud only happy is concerned i think you should really reconsider…i mean really? would you not be proud of your children for that matter can you tell your parents not to be proud of you……..
    i agree with your thoughts but they do not so much stem in pride but rather they emanate from orthodoxy, lack of education and stupidity…
    maybe jingoism could have been a better choice of word

    • Rohit

      I agree that things are not all black and white. Like all emotions pride cannot be segregated so easily from other emotions. My chief objection is for pride for things which we have no real reason to be proud of but still use it as a platform to heap indignities, however small, on people who do not confirm to those same things. I grant that it is a lot foolishness and fanaticism but it has its roots in that unjustified pride.

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