Nationalism vs. Patriotism

patriot-1019862_960_720By NaSa

We are Indians. Our proud is tricolour and our passion is cricket. These are the two forces that make us think of our country and not our religions or regions. Our craze for cricket and love for tricolour are unified and have always united us. However, lately there have been instances or attempts to entangle us in and between these two to the extent that we forget the difference between passion and possession and nationalism and patriotism.

Almost every day we get one or other headline that compel us to add or withdraw one or more persons from our own lists of nationalists. And we do it with the help of whatever little understanding of nationalism and patriotism we have. In this age of punch lines and one-liners we like to hear, raise and get  involved in sloganeering and social media messaging rather than reading and researching.

Individuals and educational institutions are being virtually tagged as certified and non-certified Indians where certified are those who have proven their love for the country by simply chanting something whereas those what don’t chant do not have any scope to get the certification. A piece of advice to the non-certified – certification isn’t a lengthy or tough process and everyone should go for it as the offer might last or alter at the whims of certification agencies.

We do not take much time to get into a scuffle or to kill people in the name of nationalism and anti-nationalism. It seems that we have become so much accustomed to the dosage of nationalist/anti-nationalist and pro-India/anti-India news that sometimes we don’t even hesitate to create one, knowingly or unknowingly.

There’s an episode in Mahabharta where Pandavas play a trick to defeat Dronacharya, which was to give him the false news of his son’s death.  Yudhishtir was asked to proclaim that ‘Ashvathama is dead.’ Since Yudhistir was considered ‘Dharmaraja’ (lord of judgement) there was no way Dronacharya would doubt him. Dronacharya thought that his son Ashawathama had died so Dronacharya, a grief-stricken father, ceded his weapons only to be killed eventually. Whereas, Yudhisthira was actually talking of an elephant named Ashwathama.

Just like Dronacharya, we too seem to have got lost in all kinds of rumours, propaganda and provocations that defy our wisdom, reason and logic. Verifying something before believing has become obsolete. We don’t think it’s important or simply commonsensical to first understand something before fighting over it.

But before indulging in it any further, for once we must ask ourselves do we really know what’s nationalism and what’s patriotism? We have various thinkers, leaders and prominent people who have explained nationalism and patriotism in their own unique way. For example, Charles de Gaulle – former president of the French republic quoted that “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” Albert Einstien believed “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

Whereas there are many other prominent people who have completely different definitions of Nationalism, there are some standards and universally accepted definitions also. Let’s look at those. 

Dictionary nameNationalismPatriotism
  • a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries
  • a desire by a large group of people (such as people who share the same culture, history, language, etc.) to form a separate and independent nation of their own


Love that people feel for their country


‘Nationalism is the belief that your own country is better than all others. Sometimes nationalism makes people not want to work with other countries to solve shared problems.

It is important not to confuse nationalism with patriotism. Patriotism is a healthy pride in your country that brings about feelings of loyalty and a desire to help other citizens. Nationalism is the belief that your country is superior, without question or doubt. In some cases, nationalism can inspire people to break free of a foreign oppressor, as in the American Revolution, but nationalism can also lead a country to cut itself off from the rest of the world.’



love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it.




Nationalism, ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests. ·       Devotion, especially excessive or undiscriminating devotion, to the interests or culture of a particular nation-state.

·       The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.

·       The belief that a particular cultural or ethnic group constitutes a distinct people deserving of political self-determination.


Love of country; devotion to the welfare of one’s compatriots; the virtues and actions of a patriot; the passion which inspires one to serve one’s country.


x-twain-patriotismI am not sure of what would be the take away from this write-up but would like to end it with an Albert Einstein quote once again “Two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity…and I am not sure about the universe.” And another quote that I happened to stumble upon while surfing. It is from the blog of ‘ A curious Wanderer.’


  1. May 9, 2017
    • May 9, 2017

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