Our pride in India is a powerful force

Harish Bhat | Updated on April 19, 2018 Published on April 19, 2018

Positivity unbound Harness national pride for happiness and prosperity KV Poornachandra Kumar   -  KV Poornachandra Kumar

Why loving our country should matter to us all

On a hot Saturday morning earlier this month, I stood in prayer at Jallianwala Bagh, the public garden in Amritsar where hundreds of innocent Indians were massacred by the British Indian Army 99 years ago. On April 13, 1919, troops under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired indiscriminately into a crowd of Indian civilians, gathered peacefully for the annual Baisakhi festival, and to condemn the arrest of two national leaders. By official British estimates, 379 people were killed and over 1,200 wounded. The reported figures were far higher. This event proved to be a turning point in India’s freedom struggle.

At Jallianwala Bagh, I was amazed to see thousands of Indians, from all across the country, streaming continuously into the garden, now a memorial. Women in colourful Rajasthani sarees, men clad in the white veshtis of Tamil Nadu, old men with walking sticks, and young college students in their T-shirts and jeans – indeed, a microcosm of India. I had never before seen so many people at a single such historic location. Later, I discovered that as many as 50,000 people visit this memorial every single day, 1.8 crore visitors annually. These are astounding numbers, and can only be because of our deep love for our country, and our need to pay homage to our history.

Here, I saw an elderly father and his young son stand in front of the eternal flame (Amar Jyoti), for several minutes. I watched them keenly, because they stood so still, holding hands. Their heads were bowed. After some time, they raised their hands in a smart salute, turned and left. I could see the pride in their eyes, and I was very moved. Like so many of us, this father and son were saying in silence – we are so proud of our nation, we pay tribute to the martyrs who gave us our independence.

Pride in our nation is a powerful emotion. It unites and inspires. It encompasses pride in our history, heritage, achievements and our future. It is also a very constructive emotion, because it brings out the best in us, and encourages us to contribute positively. It is both a self-conscious emotion and a social emotion, so it can stir us individually and collectively. When the nation and the world at large are increasingly being torn apart by many negative streams of thought, pride in our nation can help constantly remind us of the larger purpose of our nation, and the role each of us can play in stitching together the beautiful fabric of our vast country.

This is why I think all of us – government, businesses, non-profit organisations, educational institutions, media, social movements, leaders from all spheres of life – should make a special effort to generate and promote pride in India. Marketers have an important role to play in this, because effective communication of emotions and stories is our forte. Here are some initial thoughts:

Like Jallianwala Bagh other moments, symbols and monuments important to our nation’s history – such as the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath, India Gate, Fatehpur Sikri, Dandi salt march, Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” speech, the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari – can be celebrated by Governments and corporations alike.

Pride in history

Some of these monuments require upkeep and wide promotion that businesses can usefully contribute to. Many of them require superb storytelling, to evoke their respective moments in time, that our film-makers and media can help bring alive. This would be a welcome change from the shrill and often meaningless debates we hear on some media channels today.

Pride in heritage

All nations take pride in their heritage, and India has a particularly rich one. For instance, our food traditions are unique – from the delicious appams and stew of Kerala to the kulchas and Amritsari chole of Punjaband so much more. Our nation’s jewellery traditions are equally fascinating, as is its heritage in sarees and garments As marketers, we should narrate these stories beautifully, celebrate our native craftsmen and craftswomen who have kept such heritage alive, and contribute meaningfully towards nurturing their future.

Pride in achievement

India’s achievements in science and technology, literature and fine arts, agriculture and industry, sports and athletics, can be a source of great national pride, if they are highlighted appropriately. Cultural institutions, trusts, corporates and universities have a key role to play in supporting these important areas, as does the Government itself. For instance, can each university in the country adopt and propagate the memory of one important Indian achiever, based on the university’s key area of focus? It would be inspiring to see the lives and achievements of great Indians, both ancient and modern – such as Aryabhata, Charaka, Tansen, CV Raman, Vikram Sarabhai, RK Narayan, Rabindranath Tagore, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Sarojini Naidu, Salman Rushdie, Ruskin Bond, MS Swaminathan, Jamsetji Tata, GD Birla and many others – come alive on our University campuses, and also through the marketing outreach programmes of these institutions and their alumni networks. Imagine the collective pride that this can generate, amongst millions of students and parents nationwide.

Recent surveys indicate that more than 70 per cent of all Indians believe our children will be doing better, financially, compared to where we are right now. To make this happen, we have to address critical areas such as stark inequality and creation of jobs.

Pride in our future

Every institution and marketer in this country has to play a role in helping build this optimism about the future, alongside our essential role in helping develop solutions to key national problems. Through the investments we make, the innovations we foster, the constructive tone of our conversations and campaigns, each of us can build pride in India. We owe this to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for our nation, and we also owe this to our future generations.

Harish Bhat is Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, and author of The Curious Marketer”. These are his personal views. [email protected]

Published on April 19, 2018
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