Chauvinism versus Patriotism

By Radharao Gracias
15 July 2010 21:27 IST

It was sometime at the beginning of the nineteenth century that a soldier in Napoleon's army when asked to justify the incessant wars that France launched against its neighbours gave the classic reply which immortalized him. The reply: "My country therefore right". The soldier: Nicholas Chauvin. He gave us an entire new concept; Chauvinism.

We, as a people seem to have the highest regard, for Chauvin and have mastered the art of chauvinism. If chauvinism were to be declared as a sport, India would sweep all medals at the Olympics. A symptom of our chauvinism is apparent in the oft repeated slogan "Mera Bharat Mahan" (My India is great). The question that arises; is it really so?

There has been no greatness about our Country, not in the last two thousand years or so. Our history is nothing but a record of invasions, conquests, subjugations and enslavement. History shows that perhaps no other country has been the victim of invasions and conquests as much as India has been. The Huns, Scythians, Parthians, Greeks, Mongols or whosoever have simply marched into the country pillaged and ransacked.

As a consequence of our cowardice and failure to defend ourselves, invaders who marched in at will, marched out with booty and tens of thousands of Indians as slaves. The poor underfed vegetarians from the plains were driven ruthlessly over the mountains of Afghanistan, where they died "like flies", as history records.  The mountains themselves came to be known as Hindu Kush Mountains. Hindu Kush does not mean Hindu happy; it means Hindu killer, in the local language.  

Geographically, the country was by far the most defensible against battle technology available in those days. The Himalayas form a huge bulwark towards the north. No invader has crossed the Himalayas into India until the Chinese 1962. The eastern borders with Burma are rugged hills. No invader had come, from the East, until the Japanese advanced over 7,000 kms from their island home to reach Kohima during the Second World War. The South has a vast ocean around it. No invader entered from the sea till Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa in the sixteenth century. All previous invasions into the country were overland from the West. And there were just two routes of entry into the country; the Bolan Pass and the Khyber Pass. Most of the invaders poured in through the Khyber Pass which is about thirty four kilometers long and in places only three metres wide. There was no other entry point into the country. However it never occurred to our countrymen to fortify the passes and permanently block access to invaders.

In this context, I am reminded of the designer advertisements being released by the Indian army inviting fellow Indians to join the army. The advertisements are couched in a language, which practically seem to say that the Indian army is a five star hotel with all sorts of facilities for those who join it. Despite such enticing advertisements, the shortage of Officers in the army has mounted to 14,000 officers.

If we have to join the army, there is only one reason to do so; and that is because the country needs the soldiers to defend it. It is here that patriotism comes in. No other reason is required. A billion and two hundred million people and we are running short of 14,000 officers. Can you beat that?

I have seen how when the Government of Goa announces vacancies for police sub inspectors, thousands of Goans apply and are known to have paid "bribe price" of up to Rs.15,00,000 to be selected. I understand that shortly another batch of sub inspectors is to be recruited. The "bribe price" has reportedly touched Rs.25, 00,000. Mark my words, there would be thousands, seeking to pull strings and willing to pay the "bribe price" to be selected. None of these applicants for PSIs would go anywhere near an army selection camp where one would be gladly and freely selected. Who wants to be at risk of being killed in the battlefront when it is much easier to make a "killing" in the police force? That's our patriotism.

I often wonder about the Sangh Parivar, which seems to hold a monopoly on patriotism. The RSS itself claims a membership of over 25 million cadres, who dressed in Khaki are frequently seen marching in military formation. The Bajrang Dal, Ram Sene and the VHP have their tough looking volunteers who have unleashed their ‘patriotism' in Gujarat, Karnataka and not very long ago at Fontainhas in Panaji. So, presumably, the Sangh Parivar is full of young energetic countrymen willing to defendant the country's honour.

That being so, why does the RSS and its sister organizations not hold camps of its patriotic swayamsevaks and call upon the army, to select from its cadre? The army should be easily able to enroll 14,000 officers from among the 25 million ‘pathetic' swayamsevaks. Will the RSS at least now prove its patriotism and provides its cadres for recruitment into the army? It is time that the Sangh Parivar cadres display their patriotism on the Indo-Pak border! That is where the threat lies.

Our self belief in our greatness is unfounded and the cause of our downfall. We do not become great through self proclamation. The rest of the world has to acknowledge our greatness. No one does so. There is not a single field of human endeavour, where we are anywhere near the top. There is not a single field of human endeavour, where we are not near the bottom. Our self glorification is not a new phenomenon. Alberuni traveling through India in the eleventh century writes about our countrymen:

According to their belief, there is no other country on earth but theirs, no other race of man but theirs, and no created beings besides them have any knowledge or science whatsoever. Their haughtiness is such that, if you tell them of any science or scholar in Kurasan and Persis, they will think you to be both an ignoramus and a liar. If they traveled and mixed with other nations, they would soon change their mind, for their ancestors were not as narrow-minded as the present generation is. One of their scholars, Varahamihira, in a passage where he calls on the people to honour the Brahmans, says: "The Greeks, though impure, must be honoured, since they were trained in sciences, and therein excelled others."

Nothing seems to have changed over the last millennium.

We were not alone in proclaiming our greatness. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the Japanese were as insular as us and had their own version of Hindutwa. The Japanese closed their ports to foreign trade. Western nations demanded the right to trade. The Japanese refused to concede. French, American, Dutch and British forces bombarded Japanese ports and within a few days the Japanese navy was routed. Japan conceded all the demands and opened its ports. Unlike us, the Japanese did not take the defeat lying down. The Japanese accepted that the west was far more advanced.

The Japanese people were unnerved by the unexpected defeat. The Japanese shogun united behind the emperor Mejid Matsuhito and handed over all powers to him so that Japan could advance "and be able to rank equally with other Nations of the World". It was the year 1867.

Douglas Collier writing on what happened thereafter records:

"Soon, great numbers of Japanese, delegations from every craft, every city in the land, were touring London, Paris, New York and other world centres, behaving with the impeccable good manners so little in evidence in foreigners who had visited Japan.

And now Japanese industrial revolution began to speed, during this second half of the Emperor Meiji's long reign. Factories sprang up like mushrooms, and the ships which had so shocked and impressed the Japanese in 1853 and which they subsequently ordered, one by one, from the western world, began to be made, even faster, in Japanese yards. The foreign monopoly of the crowded and important steamship trade between Japan and China was broken by a thrusting, new, government-sponsored "Japan Mail Line". A western-style army and navy began to grow.

Japan was at last established as the equal of any nation - but there was no resting on laurels. The visits of beaming, polite, little men all over Europe and the United States, absorbing silently and with absolute accuracy everything they saw and heard, went on, encouraged as before by the emperor. Meiji journeyed widely himself, setting a novel precedent and coming back regularly to his domains with plans for still more improvement, expansion in education, science, industry."

The Japanese have since emerged as the second largest economy on earth. The Japanese have also improved physically. The average height of a 21-year old Japanese has increased by 20 cms post Second World War. This additional height is jokingly referred to as "hamburger height" since it is attributed to the Japanese change to American food habits.

Turkey, on the western frontiers of Asia, had dominated the world for nearly seven centuries. However, as the west advanced Turkey stagnated and came to be called the sick man of Europe. At this time the Turks had a great fortune to see the emergence of Kemal Attaturk, who understood the cause for the backwardness of Turkey. He united Turkey and was determined to modernize the Nation on western lines. Lawrence Wilson writes:

"To make Turkey a strong, independent, modernized country was now the goal. Through the National Assembly he bulldozed a unanimous vote abolishing the Sultanate,... Religion he saw as the great enemy to progress, and as long as there was a caliph he himself was not supreme and could not free the people from superstition. In March, 1924, Abdul Mejid was sent packing and the State was secularized.

There was great and growing opposition. But Kemal was utterly ruthless. Gradually he established himself as absolute dictator. With paternal rigour he then gave his people what he thought they needed. The fez, the symbol of the Ottoman past, was abolished and its wearing made a crime. Monastaries were closed, their inmates turned out to work or starve. Commercial, penal and civil codes were imported from abroad and antiquated Moslem laws were swept. The metric system was introduced and the Gregorian calendar. Polygamy was abolished and women were given equal rights with men. Down to the smallest detail of social life, time honoured habits were hacked away and in the clearing made the Turk was set on his feet and told to behave like a modern man.

But only two or three per cent of the people were literate and this was partly due to the inadequacy of Arabic characters for writing Turkish. In 1928 Kemal, substituted the Latin alphabet and toured the country teaching the new signs."

The tragedy of our country is that we are yet to find our emperor Meji or Kemal Attaturk. Superstition wrapped in ritual continues to hold sway. As custom. As tradition. As religion. No leader or political party has the courage to challenge superstition.

We are still lost in the back woods since we refuse to acknowledge our own weaknesses and correct them as the Japanese or Turks have done. We have to admit that we are a cesspool of superstitions and corruption, dishonesty and deceit. We have stagnated and failed to evolve and advance. Our contribution to civilization, (and it cannot be disputed) is "zero". No pun intended. We have become the coelacanth, of civilization. We are not great. We have to strive to be great.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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Previous Comments

Dear Shekhar Bhai,

I said it out of Humor, are you very serious about your comment?

- Nag, Ponda | 08 th September 2010 11:14


Dear Nagabhai,

Please read my comments properly. I said One MLA is elected in ZARKHAND ASSEMBLY on ticket & symbol of UGDP. How is this only Radharao can explain....

- Shekhar, Panaji | 23 rd August 2010 10:49


63 rd independnce day panjim to mira mar race winner participent in race 15 th .08.2010 photo & deatils news

- roony, kolhapur | 21 st August 2010 16:15


Dear Shekhar,

Slight correction to your statement, One UGDP MLA is elected in Goa Assembly from Zarkhand …...

How about this?

- Naga bhai, Ponda Goa | 20 th August 2010 12:49


Hi, You need not comment on RSS and partiotism. Better Ask Indian Army about RSS, what it did in 1948/1971. RSS does not require a certificate from any dick/to/harry/radharao. Chacha Nehru has himself felicitated RSS in 1963 (he once proclaimed that he would not give an inch of flag).

- Ganesh, Bharat | 03 rd August 2010 10:51


Don’t go too far to fight, Mr. Radharao, starting from Goa only start fighting against Drugs peddler v/s politician nexus.

- Viswanath, Asnora | 03 rd August 2010 10:20


From all the adverse comments to this blog, I can only say one thing:

Truth hurts

- aires Cabral, Melbourne | 31 st July 2010 12:04


Are there any politicians left in Goa or in India who stick to ideologies and principles? They stick only to money and chairs! Is UGDP any exception?

- james silva, margao | 28 th July 2010 17:16



Mr. Radharao is working in Naxalite area long abck by selling UGDP tickets to Zarkhand citizens.! ONe UGDP MLA is elected in Zarkhand assembly ......

- Shekhar , Panaji Goa | 28 th July 2010 10:54


Mr. RadhaRao,

Why you want any body else to go on border and fight the battle to protect the persons like you who have literally no ideology at all, lets take very simple example, you are member of UGDP and you have taken up the case of Nadia’s mothers and your dear friend Anaclate has now replaced Mr. Amit. On an on total case is related to a prominent NCP leader, that goes to show that you are interested only in earning money and nothing else.

Secondly, RSS will send its cadre or not is their call and they don’t want any suggestion from a Hippocratic person who has no ideology.

Lastly, If you have any guts in you then go in Naxalite area and work for their betterment and prove your self you don’t have any right to ask any body or any outfit to prove them self, first you do what I have suggested and then talk.

- Purushottam, Ponda | 24 th July 2010 12:20


Brijesh Kanaujia,

1) RSS is not a political party, it is a Hindu Nationalist organization. What is your definition of communal? I am a Goan and i know goans ! True goans will have a good discussion

- GoanInUS, US | 23 rd July 2010 23:01


Radharao, your name itself portrays patriotism. You don’t need to push people into the Indian army through your UGDP party. You are doing your bit through your day to day work – service to humanity. Some of these people don’t even know as to how many doors and windows their houses have. But you have amazingly educated them about their own houses. Well done!!

I know that you are trying to improve the system in more ways then one even through your UGDP party. Of course I cannot say that about your colleague & brother in law Anaclet Viegas who is only gas and gas. Your party would have done a lot of service to goans if Anaclet was not there in the core group… Calvert Gonsalves

- calvert gonsalves, colva | 23 rd July 2010 22:12


We Goans are all Crabs. Nothing more to say... I am one of them... just like the others here in this forum..and we are getting crushed under the mighty foot of the respectable migrants.. Crab Xacutti!! How tasty for all the hungry "Goa Grabbers"....

- Martins, Goa | 21 st July 2010 15:26


Shekhar Gaitonde and Goaninus comment

and reply to Adv. Radharao's. Your acknowledge and contribute to this issue

can call controversy article.It doe not capable to define and about UGPD etc article is confine. UGPD is local party and RSS is communal party to break peace. So do not contribute the way you feel it hurt goans. .

- Brijesh Kanaujia, Mapuca - Goa | 20 th July 2010 18:31


Originally, many of the so called freedom fighters were petty thieves or criminals who were in the Portuguese jails, law and order was at its best without them. Now, these people suddenly became heroes as Freedom Fighters. Radharao Gracias is one more exploiter of Goa. Every elections, he sells tickets like cinema tickets to every rog or criminal not for the prosperity of Goa but for his own pocket. He talks about "bribe price" in the Goan system, why does he not talk about elections countermanding, fighting for criminals to protect them?

- Dalia, Goa | 20 th July 2010 10:02


Mr. Rajesh - Panjim

Your comment and view of Mr. Radharao we

have no problems about the rest of the contents of this comment., But correct yourself word of " Portugalis" your abuse language and hatered does not match us, so better rectify your comment before anyone spin your nose.

- Brijesh Kanaujia, Goa | 19 th July 2010 14:10


The truth is always bitter and Mr. Radharao has done a good self introspection! Yes we have been ruled by almost every invader who came here traversing harsh terrain and sea routes! When the foreign invaders have gone, now we are ruled and exploited by our own corrupt brothers many of whom are even criminals! Many will feel that this loot and exploitation is much worse than the foreign invaders! This is a shame on all of us!

Japan has advanced. When there is a strike in Japan, the workers- work more and show their resentment- when there is a strike here, we destroy the public property, set fire to buses and trains and many times this is done under instigation from the political parties!

All the time we are concerned to find means and methods as to how we would earn name,fame wealth and position, by hook or crook ! More one is educated, more one becomes selfish! We have built a shell around ourselves and never want to come out of it and see as to what happens to the society! Otherwise one could not see so many educated intellectuals-compromising with ideologies/principles and toeing the line of the corrupt/ criminals and falling on their feet for petty selfish gains!

It many times pains when you dont see a single individual who has guts and courage to stand by the ideologies and principles!

We have no shame in voting in return for money, we have no shame in paying bribe to get job, we have no shame in bribing at every step all the way up to get our housing projects cleared or land conversions done! We have no shame in adulterating petrol to make extra buck . We have no shame in committing scams of all sorts! We have no shame in depleting and polluting our own water bodies and destroying our own mother land by nefarious activities like indiscriminate mining,

Who is to be blamed for all this? The judicial system has reached a level where it takes decades to deliver judgement with crores of cases pending for years! Can this be called a system which delivers justice to a common man?

We sometimes blame people for migrating away from this country ! But if you ask them the cause, many of them will not hesitate in telling that they did so as they could not bribe at every step, just to survive! If things have to improve, it is time everybody wakes up and does some honest introspection otherwise it would be too late!

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 19 th July 2010 10:53


Radharao, Radharao tu matso ugi rao. You head is probably in your rear end and haven't heard of India's unprecedented rate of economic growth. Also, probably haven't heard of ISROs launches or TATA's Nano etc etc. You are a PLO ( Portuguese Left Over) and are probably living in nostalgia of the Portuguese rule and your problem with RSS is that RSS leader Jagannath Rao Joshi led the satyagraha agitation to kick the portuguese out of Goa.

some of the other things that RSS has done.

1) Started movement for liberation of Dadra Nagar and Haveli from the portuguese.

2) Volunteers were at the border with the troops during the Sino -indian war in 1962

3) Agitation to restore democracy in India after Emergency despite risks of bodily harm.

4) RSS had a big part to play in the Land Reform movement, Bhoodan.

So please get your head out of your rear end and drop your prejudices. Also, i would like to know what your opinion is about the pope trying to sweep under the rug the molestation of 200 deaf boys? as a lawyer what is your opinion?? what should be his punishment??

There are always 2 sides to a coin, it all depends on whether you see the heads or tails.

- GoaninUS, USA | 19 th July 2010 08:28


Mr Radhrao Should send his son on Indo Pak border , which will show big patriotism , You people gain by supporting portugalis.



- Rajesh, Panjim | 17 th July 2010 19:15


good article by adv.radharao. Equally a fitting reply by Shekhar Gaitonde. Keep blogging; it makes interesting reading.

- sushant tari, mumbai- goa | 17 th July 2010 16:22



A good attempt to analyse of the present scenario of India. But also forgotten our culture to forgive the culprits. Remember Prithviraj Chouvan, King Porusand many others patriots.

Secondly, your suggestion for RSS found pretty interesting. I request RSS leadership to seriously think on your suggetion so that they can come closer to thier aim. But patriotism cannot be a proprietory item of any organisation. How about YOU to generate at least 14 officers for Indian Army through your UGDP ? A small pie of your Patriotism?

- Shekhar Gaitonde, Panaji Goa | 16 th July 2010 11:08


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