The more I grow up, the more I realise who has influenced me. The more the realisation, the more the feeling of being a misfit. I feel proud of my mother, who raised me to be someone who can atleast respect the National Flag or National Anthem, if I cannot lay down my life for my nation. I am sure there are many such mothers throughout the length and breadth of this country, but for a change, I found myself in the presence (or should I say absence) of a few children who seemed to have disregarded their mothers, or parents. I don’t feel proud of my country’s “youth” though, as ironic as it might sound (since I am part of this youth). I see the ‘new’ youth every single day, through my interactions with them. I work in a University, and I think I am really lucky to be a part of the National Flag unfurling ceremony twice in a year. Not everyone is as lucky. I am more excited on National Holidays than perhaps on my birthdays, or any festivals (except Diwali maybe). I slept late and woke up with dark circles underneath my eyes at around 6am because I thought that the India Gate parade will begin at 7am. Much to my surprise, there were fellow ”youth”ful people who could not get up till 8.45am even. It made me feel sure about one thing: nobody cares about 69-year olds, atleast most of the youth does not. I don’t want to sound pessimistic or as if I am already 35, but I can’t believe that these youngsters can actually wile away time gossipping and wasting themselves on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, but can’t set aside a few minutes for such a gesture. I really thanked those who did attend from the bottom of my heart. I realised that patriotism is not just an emotion; it is a value, it is part of a nation’s culture. Perhaps this is the best time to give something like compulsory military service a serious thought. If people cannot feel like a nation, how can they possibly live together?

Even the most representative and cosmopolitan of places often display fragility inside their dining halls, because a person might not want to sit with an SC/ST, or with someone who is a meat-eater. We are a country of small minds, with poor listening and understanding abilities, and little tolerance for something different. All this, when we are such a diversified nation, in every way. A few 200km anywhere in the country; and the dialect changes, the food changes and even the dressing style changes. We have ample time to give attention to Karni Sena, but we forget to pay attention to inanimate objects, like the National Flag. I am scared of having my own children someday because they might fall prey to the wrong company who would teach my children to discard patriotism, just like most children do not follow religion these days. I am not the most religious person, but I have faith in God, even if it is a little shaky at times. I am not agnostic either, because I believe in idol worship; and I get when someone tries to make idol worship sound regressive in order to look cool. But I have started to realise that values are even more important than religion. Besides, what religion do youngsters follow if every festive party ends up with (or should I say, begins with) wine, beer and women? I grew up writing school essays on Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, etc. and that was perhaps the reason I have grown to feel excited about a few festivals, and National Holidays. But I am sure every child who goes to school spends time doing what I did. What is the point of studying when values are so shaky? Education without values is meaningless.

I have no intentions of being preachy on this post, but it is about doing the least bit for one’s own country, whenever possible. If this is the youth that will determine the future of this country, I would rather be old. My job is to teach; and a student’s job is to learn. But what they have unlearnt is a matter of concern for me, and should be, for governments to come.