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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Proud to be an indian ??

I had a really strange thought few days back. One of my roommates was making fun of me or something and told “oh he is proud gujju. I am proud of be a gujju” and I said “no I am not proud to be a gujju (Guajarati)” and they were all kind of shocked. I find this very surprising

Everyday many of us keep saying “Proud to be an Indian”, “Proud to be a gujju” or something like that without thinking why are we so proud to be that?

Dictionary defines Proud as an adjective which means

1.
feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honourable or creditable to oneself (often fol. by of, an infinitive, or a clause).

2.
having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority.

3.
Having or showing self-respect or self-esteem.

4.
highly gratifying to the feelings or self-esteem: It was a proud day for him when his son entered college.

5.
highly honourable or creditable: a proud achievement.



According to Augustine, it is "the love of one's own excellence."
What has being an Indian or Guajarati got to do with my excellence. Why should I love myself or think good of myself just because I was born in India or in Guajarati family? Its not liked I choose to be like that. Let me explain in a little detail.


1. feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honourable or creditable to oneself
5. Highly honourable or creditable: a proud achievement.

I don’t think being an Indian is a honourable or creditable to oneself. It is merely by chance and not by choice that I was born in India and thus I am an Indian. How can I take credit for that? I didn’t put in any effort in being born in India. Its not like god gave me a choice “ok son, tell me which country u wanna be born”. So its not an achievement to be an Indian.
If I was ,by chance, born in US I would say “proud to be an American” which would make no sense as I cant take credit being an American.


3. having or showing self-respect or self-esteem.

4. Highly gratifying to the feelings or self-esteem: It was a proud day for him when his son entered college.

Sometimes we are proud of our friends, children, and parents or ourselves because when they achieve something we feel we have played role in making it possible. This feeling is quite natural and acceptable. If the Indian cricket teams wins a match I would surely say I am proud supporter of the Indian cricket team for I would like to believe that without support of so many people the team might have not done that well. However this in no way justifies the statement “Proud to be Indian”.

2. having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority.

Many times pride is the feeling of being superior or important. For eg “I am proud to be the richest man in my town” or so on. This again talks about the achievements of on individual for which he has put efforts and worked hard. There is no way I can say being an Indian makes me more important, dignified or superior than other people.

Few of us are even proud at being in a certain religion. “Proud to be a Hindu” or “Proud to be Muslim” some of us would say. But this again is nothing but the feeling of false superiority as one has not put any efforts to be in that religion. It is just by chance like being an Indian. You cant say your religion is superior than other and thus there is no way u can be proud to be Hindu or Muslim or anything else. Infact most world religions consider “Pride” to be a sin and encourage humility!

Exceptions

Like everything else in the world, even my point of view has some exceptions. Many of us are born in one country but always dream going abroad and settling there. Some of them work very hard to fulfil this dream and so when they finally when they become a citizen of that country it is an achievement for them. So if they say they r proud to be xyz, then its quite acceptable I feel.

Similary someone who has taken a lot of pains to convert into a hindu, muslim etc then he or she may say they are proud to do so as long they say it with a feeling to making an achievement and not with that of being superior or more important.

Also if someone feels that he/she has done something to make india what it is today then even they may proclaim their pride as it is somewhat similar to me being a proud supporter of the indian cricket team.

Conclusion

I am sure many people would find it very insulting when I or you say “I am not proud to be an Indian” which is quite understandable cause while pride gives the feeling of being superior , the lack or absence of it sometimes causes feeling of inferiority. Now being an Indian might not be superior but it is not inferior too. So the question arises that what do we say?

The answer is we can be “happy”. Surely there is nothing wrong in being happy to be an Indian because happiness is not restricted of any achievements. We can happy to see the sun rise, to see someone else happy, to eat good food, to spend time with family and friends. We can happy at any damn thing we want.

I may not be proud to be a gujju and an Indian. But I am happy to a gujju and delighted to be an Indian !

****UPDATE******

Thanks to my good friend Archana's logical arguments i have been convinced to believe that i can truly proudly say that i am proud to be indian. Read her counter argument here .

Sociable