So, who exactly is a counterpatriot? Because the antonym for a patriot is a traitor. So are we discussing traitors here? Not really! Here’s a simple definition for the counterpatriot. He or she or they are elements who find ways to question your patriotism based on the political bias that suits them the best.
As a matter of fact, a separate type of counterpatriot is available for each one of us, depending on where we stand as political individuals. Politics over the past half-decade or so has become increasingly vicious and polarising. It isn’t an overstatement to say that the best way to lose friends these days is by airing your political affiliations.
A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts about starting this website with a very close friend. I explained that it was time a website informed customers about various Chinese products we use and the perils of doing that. I went on to say that it was high time someone told every Indian the truth about China and inspired Indians to work towards making our economy stronger. The next response I got from her was “Sanghi ban gaye ho kya?”, meaning ‘Have you become a Sanghi?” with an obvious reference to the RSS and their followers.
To be or not to be a ‘Sanghi’
Her response was very light-hearted and I dismissed it as that. But what made me think is how can anyone associate my sense of pride for my homeland with any political organisation or political ideology? Since, when does a certain political party have the unchallengeable patent on patriotism and national pride? And more importantly, since when has it become normal for people to defend their patriotism?
Personally, I have seen this trend after 2014, when BJP came to power with an overwhelming majority. Since then, politics and political opinions have become more about being with or against a certain group. Political polarisation has grown to such levels that people will go to any extent to criticise or defend anything done by the government or even the opposition. Take the Balakot air strikes for example. There have been enough and more ‘expert’ reviews written about how the attack happened and what was achieved. On the other hand are the same number of opinion pieces rife with so-called ‘facts’ about how the attack never happened.
It is only logical for any person to understand that India’s Military has never had a history of hiding attack details, casualties etc. from the public. And in this case, the attack was done across the Line of Control, and therefore had global repercussions. So, why would our armed forces come out in front of the media and declare something which could potentially be the starting point of a war? They did so, because the attack actually happened and the goals they intended to achieve were indeed achieved.
United we stand…
Just like me, there are people on the other end of the spectrum, who are labelled as traitors because they refuse to agree with the government at all times. People who are asked to board a flight to Pakistan if they refuse to accept that the Central Government is always right. This kind of name-calling and pedestrian mudslinging has to stop for our country to move forward. Counterpatriots on both sides need to understand that their behaviour is no way to create a conducive environment for fact-based discussions on any topic. It is this American-style bipartisan animosity against each other that harms the democratic systems our country has built over decades.
Political discourse along with political debates is not about dividing people on ideological lines. It is about answering the questions along with questioning the answers in an unbiased, factual manner. A climate of civility and humaneness is what will help our democracy flourish and move forward. Dealing in absolutes is never a healthy way to bring together a country that takes immense pride in its diversity.