PATRIOTISM or love for your motherland should flow like perennial rivers – softly and constantly, not like those seasonal ones that flow noisily when showers are heavy but quickly dry up when the sun is shining bright. Of course, we all love our country very much, take pride in her wisdom and strength and share common dreams of success and well-being but when it comes to expressing this love, we are boisterous, energetic, loud but rarely very thoughtful. Love for one’s nation would be much better expressed not by once-in-a-while euphoria but through our constant, silent strivings day in and day out. Take our present situation from example. We are in the midst of a pandemic, are being piqued by our neighbours, our economy is spiralling downwards and economic growth’s stunted.
As is the nature of human mind, his greatest thoughts come during the roughest of all times. These are those times and we have again invoked the age-old brilliant idea of Swadeshi. Swadeshi, it is argued, will take care of our economy and also our very-friendly neighbour. A brilliant idea indeed! And it has also appealed to Indians who are now swearing by it. Excellent isn’t it! But I am afraid our zest for doing the right thing is actually no match for our solemn habit of doing nothing. This time I hope we do rise to the occasion. The way we look at Swadeshi, of course, varies from person to person, but our over-all approach for years now can, by and large, be best described by the song, Mera joota hai Japani, Ye patloon Englishtani, Sir pe lal topi Russi, phir bhi dil hai Hindustani… We love Foreign. We love Indian. That song does quantify the difference of our love, if not the huge margin between our imports and exports. Thankfully, the song belongs to yesteryears.
Had it been today, we would have been compelled to add mera phone bhi hai Chini…, mera wristwatch, mera LED TV, pencil, eraser, puja wala diya, bhagwan ki murti… and what not…! Our not-so-glorious list of things foreign is so expansive that the need of the hour is for us to ‘phoren’ do something about it. Hence some good souls are reminding us through the mega medium of the social media and through various other means the urgent need for adopting Swadeshi. If we do walk that path, which we must, we would first need to give up our incomprehensible love for everything foreign. Our love for foreign stuff is so, so strong that some of our very Indian manufacturers had to name their products accordingly. Louis Philippe, Peter England, Allen Solly, Da Milano…and the list goes on.
Indians get additional warmth when their woolens bear names like Monte Carlo, irrespective of the fact that the wool is so much Ludhianvi and the designers are all Indians! Our dinner-wares proudly proclaim La Opala as if the flavours of the curry double up when we struggle with our French pronunciation! And if the table is set you might serve the Chardon wine blessing the Europeans and sparing no thought for our Nashik-grown grapes. Why even the shopping site that you may visit because it’s called the American Swan is actually headquartered at Gurgaon! There are so many other Indian brands that are named to sound so foreign. And these are all very good stuff. What is in the name you may ask? Well, a lot of unexplainable desires layered in years of unattended prejudice!
But the most illogical part of our affliction (Oops, affection) is that while our fetish for everything even remotely sounding European or Western is in pursuance of desire for being ‘classy’, we are hoarding everything Chinese because it is cheap?!? Well, look around friends. India is the perfect golden mean. Indian stuff, while being reasonably classy is also not very expensive. Isn’t that perfect? So, while inspired by many messages and videos you may resolve to make India powerful by investing in stuff that is Indian, please allow me to make a point that is likely to stay in your memory a little longer than your lockdown resolution.
Please buy Indian goods because they are reasonably classy, less expensive and downright good. The first part of Prime Minister’s clarion call of Aatmanirbhar Bharat is about Aatma – self. Swa-Deshi is the other side of the same coin. A good look at the (Aatma or Swa) ‘Self’ is what we truly need at this hour. Let the pandemic truly be an eye-opener. It is with nations as it is with people. The one who truly invest in their own self are the ones who grow strong and become powerful. India needs to grow stronger. Indians must truly believe in their own self. They must appreciate whatever is theirs and take pride in being Indians. Swadeshi is no simple word to be uttered loud and loud. It must be like the river Ganga flowing perennially into lives, enriching each being.
If we flood the markets with our demand for Indian goods, the markets will have to respond, industries will have to manufacture, traders will have to trade and the world will have to take note. The giant trader on our North-eastern border will have to take note. Those in the know of things had warned that every resolution made during the lockdown period may gain degrees of relaxation once lockdown is lifted. In no time we all will be out of our homes back to our pre-lockdown routines. It is then that the waters of our loud and boisterous ‘India First’ monsoon will be tested. Let us not let ourselves down. Let us flow like the Ganga – softly and constantly.
~ Biraj Dixit