On the occasion of the Republic Day

Every 15th August and 26th January, school children attend flag hoisting ceremonies in their schools and sing patriotic songs. Some schools organize cultural programs while some others take up constructive activities like plantations or cleanliness drives.  Many schools make it mandatory to attend the flag hoisting ceremony. What is the rationale behind this mandatory patriotism? Does it make sense to show your love and respect to avoid punishments? In fact, we should be mindful of ensuring that the Independence Day or the Republic Day celebration doesn’t become a new ritual. However, sometimes I wonder if we are headed in the opposite direction.

Discussing and encouraging patriotism in schools is helpful. It encourages Indian identity, shared values and social cohesion. However, patriotism is not a cure-all for our problems, let alone bigotry in the name of patriotism. In this day and age, patriotism should be interpreted as being a good citizen, respecting the law of the land, acknowledging other people’s freedom and working towards a more just system. We should discuss and debate these issues in schools on the national days; else these days will be just lost in the symbols and rituals.

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