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Recognising our Olympians for talent, not on the basis of their caste, is patriotism

The true patriots will realise that the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ and ‘Mass Covid vaccination’ are civilian responsibilities as well

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Here is the entry that won second prize in the Juniors Category for the Essay Competition organised by Apeejay Education on ‘What does patriotism mean for the youth of today?’, written by  Armeya Yogesh Dongre, a student of class 7 at Apeejay School, Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

Armeya Yogesh Dongre, class 7, Apeejay School, Nerul

Patriotism is perceived differently pre- and post-independence. A young ‘Bhagat Singh’ whose sacrifice spurred many more to take up the revolutionary path is now replaced by ‘Twitter Tigers’, trolling anything and everything on the internet. I don’t think standing for a 60-second national anthem or singing ‘Vande Mataram’ makes us more of a patriot. If holding the tri-colour, two days a year or popping fireworks at the Red Fort is patriotism, then we must also think of those involved in child labour, children who sell these flags and fireworks for their livelihood. Our nationalism must not be limited to cricket grounds and cinema halls. Instead choosing ‘responsibility’ in spite; of having the liberty of not to, is patriotism. My nationalism is when I put service to the country above anything else. For me any job done honestly is patriotism. India doesn’t need freedom fighters now; it needs honest and responsible citizens toiling every day for their own and the country’s progress.

India being an agricultural country, it’s unfortunate that 75 years past independence, our crops are still monsoon dependent, with fewer agricultural reforms and innovations, farmer youth migrating to cities, dissatisfied farmers protesting across the country are grave issues and addressing these issues is patriotism.

The youth are a major asset to the country; they create new ideas using available resources and work for the nation. On the contrary, we have witnessed major brain drain in the past few years; striving to stop this is patriotism.

In India, the fourth most unsafe nation for women in the world where women are being shamed, teased, killed with female infanticide, child marriages, domestic violence at increase; helping eradicate these issues is patriotism.

If I am able to inspire even a single poor child to go to school, not just for midday meals but to study, it would be patriotism for me. According to Chanakya; the rise and fall of a nation depends on the teachers of the country. I would consider myself a patriot if I could help in the welfare of the teacher community and direct our efforts in giving the teachers the due respect and financial returns they deserve.

Where IITs and AIIMS produce world-class engineers and doctors respectively, a patriot like me would demand building an ‘Indian Institute of Politics’, to produce world-class politicians as well. It’s our civic duty to exercise our right to vote and elect the candidates on basis of their education, service capabilities and not just on caste and religious ground. Not making politics an evil game, acknowledging an Olympic gold medalist by his talent, perseverance, hard work, and not by his caste, is patriotism for me.

Making the media raise voice against injustice, give its platform to social discussions rather than just propagating a political party or discussing celebrity child diaper brands. Working towards reducing the need for orphanages and child homes in the country is patriotism according to me.

Realising how we are cutting trees to produce paper and Metro rail projects when the Earth requires more trees and not only avoiding damage but also safeguarding our national property is equally important. It is for us to understand how overpopulation is a major hindrance in our country’s progress and working towards it; irrespective of religious bias, is a form of patriotism for me.

The true patriots will realise that ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ and ‘Mass Covid vaccination’ are less government and more civilian responsibilities.

Finally, it is only when every citizen of our country is committed to be morally right, characteristically strong, mentally sound, politically correct, religiously unbiased and economically progressive, can we look forward to the ‘Bharat’ which Gandhi Ji and Vivekanand Ji dreamt of. Jai Hind!

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