March 8, 2019

Forced patriotism

So I read that Indian Airlines is being asked by the government to end their announcements with a patriotic slogan Jai Hind” (hail India). Reminds me of the time in my school in India of 1980s. The latecomers and other offenders in our school were made to stand in a row with their palms outstretched. The discipline teacher would then walk along the row, striking the palms with a cane. It hurt, especially in the winters.

I had developed a strategy to make this experience less stressful whenever I happened to be in the offenders row for the day. Though often getting into trouble for questioning the wrong map” of the nation in our geography text, just as an ardent atheist turns religious before an exam, I too would pretend that I was a patriotic spy who has the misfortune of being captured by the enemy. As the cane weilding teacher came closer to me, I would imagine that she was the enemy interrogator.

Teacher, raising the cane and ready to strike Will you be late to school again?”
I imagined the teacher as a Chinese or Pakistani secret service interrogator. I subtitled her word as Tell us the secret of your country”
The cane come down and struck the palm…
Me wincing in pain nevvverrrr”. I followed it up by inaudible mumbling I will never tell you the secrets of my country, Jai Hind”. The hail India” at the end gave me just enough strength to bear the pain.
As the teacher moved on to the next offender, our brave and patriotic spy remained defiant, only to plot the next anti-national mischief.

Patriotism indeed is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Forced Patriotism

A few years later, after I had watched the James Bond movie Octopussy, I used to mumble Generel Orlov’s last words whenever I was admonished by the teacher, But tomorrow, I shall be a hero of the Soviet Union”.


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