The concept of nationalism is based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state cannot be compromised.
Since ancient times people had the sense of belonging to their native soil and to the cultural traditions of their society and they were expected to be loyal to the rulers of their land who generally cared for their subjects.
This is described as patriotism. Patriotism is a positive phenomenon which is rooted in affection, feeling of pride and devotion to your homeland along with a desire of unity among all its inhabitants.
It is an attribute of good citizenship, however when patriotism becomes politically mandatory, it crosses the fine line, eventually leading to nationalism.
Nationalism is the belief that one’s home country is superior to all others and all it’s citizens must follow an ideology. It was only at the end of 18th century that nationalism began to be recognised as a notion moulding public and private life.
Historians regard American and French revolutions to be the first manifestations of the dynamic character of nationalism. It spread to Europe in early 19th century and took an ugly form in Hitler’s Germany. It subsequently spread to Asia and Africa.
Nationalists believe in the superiority of their own religious and cultural beliefs. They often stereotype different ethnic, religious, or cultural groups. Their prejudice against minorities leads to intolerance to the extent of the call to get rid the country of those deemed as “different.”
In an extreme form, it can lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide. Nationalism also leads to protectionism which discourages global economic interests.
Ultra nationalists have become a threat in many Western countries. White supremacists tend to challenge immigration policies and multiculturalism and have run campaigns against immigrants. They have in particular targeted Muslims over the past two decades.
Minorities face huge dilemma on how to handle the situation when their religious and ideological beliefs clash with the majority in their country. The nationalists among the majority community are quick to declare the minorities as anti-national unless they agree with the majority view.
Indian Muslims face a difficult situation for this reason which has worsened since Hindu Nationalists came to power in 2014.
The country was divided on religious lines when British left India in 1947. India considers Pakistan an enemy nation and fought three wars with this neighbour.
Kashmir, a majority Muslim state was not merged with Pakistan at the time of partition and this remains a contentious issue between the two countries.
At the time of partition, a large number of Muslim families were divided as some members of the family opted to migrate to Pakistan while the rest decided to stay in India.
These divided families want to see cordial relations between the all the three countries, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh so that they can visit and maintain contact with their relatives across the borders.
Indian Muslims share religious beliefs, cultural traditions and language with their Pakistani and Bangladeshi counterparts.
Indian Muslims love and honour Indian nation since Islam encourages respect for other religions and fellow human beings irrespective of their personal beliefs.
However they are expected by the Hindu nationalists to hate Pakistan as an enemy nation. Any soft corner for the neighbouring country is treated as anti national.
Hindu nationalist have run campaigns against Muslims harming them in different ways including intimidation and violence resulting in killing of thousands and creating fear.
People from third world countries have migrated to rich Western nations in large number. While they have opted to become citizens of these Western countries, including Australia, they continue to identify themselves with their ethnicity.
The Western countries do not make it a major issue and they happily promote multiculturalism and accommodate everyone. Such is not the case with many third world countries where even the native minorities face discrimination of differing magnitudes.
Ideally, people should abide by the rules of the country they live in. They should pay their due taxes and do not harm the national interest of genuine nature. At large, our material living belongs to the country we live in.
We earn a living through the economic set up of the country, we consume products, use infrastructure and avail educational, health and other facilities in the country of our residence.
Therefore irrespective of our personal beliefs, our essential life matters relate to the country we live in. Therefore, whether we live in our country of origin or live in another country as a migrant or adopt to take citizenship of a country for a reason, we must abide by the rules of the country, we live in.
However, our emotional life is governed by very different parameters. These include our religious beliefs, cultural traditions and ideological thoughts. People should enjoy freedom and should not face any form of restraint in these matters.
While every citizen should contribute to the economic welfare of the country and avail the benefits, the government offer, one should have the liberty of thought and be free to practice the religion or the ideology without facing any prejudice.
They should have the right to refuse to standby their country in matters where the national policies are unjust or against personal beliefs of an individual or the community.
While patriotism is a desired character, there is a need to raise voice against nationalist forces around the world and defeat them for long term good for humanity.