National Offence

For the good of the nation: Ten short tales on patriotism by Asghar Wajahat

Translated from the Hindi by Rakhshanda Jalil, these stories are more apt for the times than ever before.

~ 1 ~

“I love my nation.”

“How much do you love your nation?”

“Very much.”

“How much?”

“Very, very much.”

“That’s very good. Now tell me: how do you love your nation?”

“What do you mean?

“Tell me the ways in which way you love it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look, when a mother loves her child she kisses it, caresses it, and holds it close to her breast...How do you love your nation?”

“My love for my nation is greater than a mother’s love for her child.”

“But how do you do it?”

“I...that...I will tell you tomorrow.”

~ 2 ~

“I am a great patriot and nationalist.”

“That’s good, but what do you do out of your patriotism and nationalism?”

“Why? Does one have to do something for patriotism and nationalism?”

~ 3 ~

“Before independence, the nationalists used to demonstrate against the British. They would bear the brunt of staffs, sticks and bullets. They would go to jail. They would end up at the gallows.”

“And what are the present lot of nationalists doing?”

“They are taking the old nationalists off the gallows.”


“So they can be sent to the gallows once again.”

~ 4 ~

“Earlier, the nationalists used to tell the common people: ‘Give me blood; I will give you freedom.’

“Today’s nationalists say: ‘Give me votes; I will give you saris, laptops, bicycles, money...’”

~ 5 ~

“Say it loudly, say that you are a nationalist.”

I said it loudly: “I am a nationalist.”

“Say it very loudly, say that you are a nationalist.”

I said it even more loudly: “I am a nationalist.”

He said, “Scream out loud that you are a nationalist.”

I shouted...I shouted very, very loudly: “I am a nationalist.”

I shouted so loudly that I became hoarse.

He said, “No, you are not a nationalist.”

I asked, “But why?”

He said, “Because no one’s ears were split when you shouted you were a nationalist.”

~ 6 ~

“I love my nation very much.”

“Then you must be loving the people of your nation too.”

“No, I don’t love the people of my nation.”


“Because they don’t love their nation.”

“Who told you that they don’t love their nation?”

“I have told myself this...”

~ 7 ~

The greatest patriot in the nation got a machine created to measure patriotism. A man sits inside this machine and a needle begins to move. And you can tell how much a person loves his nation. You know in an instant how much one loves one’s country.

He would catch hold of all those people who loved their nation very much, put them inside his machine, test their nationalism and decide their fate accordingly.

One day, people sought a suitable occasion and caught hold of the greatest patriot in the nation, and made him sit inside the machine. When the person who claimed to love his nation the most sat in the machine, the needle refused to move. people were perplexed.

Suddenly, a voice could be heard from the machine: “Remove him from the machine; his nationalism cannot be measured.”

“Why?” the people asked.

The machine said, “He has got this machine built on the express condition that it never be used to measure his nationalism.”

~ 8 ~

“Judge sahab, today I killed a traitor in broad daylight. Thousands of people were watching. I killed him mercilessly.”

“Did you kill his lawyer too?”


“Did he have a witness?”


“Any friends, neighbours, children, or relatives?”

“In that case you are free to go.”

“But when was I even arrested, m’lord?”

~ 9 ~

A patriot asked an adivasi, “Do you love your country?”

The adivasi was about to dig a well to drink some water. He had been thirsty for scores of years. He gave no answer about loving his country and kept digging the well.

The patriot asked him again, “Do you love your country?”

God knows how the adivasi’s shovel moved in a way that left no one to ask him whether he loved his country or not.

~ 10 ~

A patriot asked a dalit, “Do you love your country?”

The dalit said, “I can come inside the temple and answer your question.”

The patriot said, “I have got my answer. You don’t love your country.”

Asghar Wajahat is a Hindi fiction writer, dramatist, independent documentary filmmaker and scriptwriter. He is best known for his play Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai.

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As India turns 70, London School of Economics asks some provocative questions

Is India ready to become a global superpower?

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Is it time to re-look at constitution and citizenship in India?

The Constitution of India is fundamental to the country’s identity as a democratic power. But notwithstanding its historical authority, is it perhaps time to examine its relevance? The Constitution was drafted at a time when independent India was still a young entity. So granting overwhelming powers to the government may have helped during the early years. But in the current times, they may prove to be more discriminatory than egalitarian. Our constitution borrowed laws from other countries and continues to retain them, while the origin countries have updated them since then. So, do we need a complete overhaul of the constitution? An expert panel led by Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, including political and economic commentator S Gurumurthy, Madhav Khosla of Columbia University, Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Chintan Chandrachud the author of the book Balanced Constitutionalism and sociologist, legal researcher and Director of Council for Social Development Kalpana Kannabiran will seek answers to this.

Is CSR simply forced philanthropy?

While India pioneered the mandatory minimum CSR spend, has it succeeded in driving impact? Corporate social responsibility has many dynamics at play. Are CSR initiatives mere tokenism for compliance? Despite government guidelines and directives, are CSR activities well-thought out initiatives, which are monitored and measured for impact? The CSR stipulations have also spawned the proliferation of ambiguous NGOs. The session, ‘Does forced philanthropy work – CSR in India?” will raise these questions of intent, ethics and integrity. It will be moderated by Professor Harry Barkema and have industry veterans such as Mukund Rajan (Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives), Onkar S Kanwar (Chairman and CEO, Apollo Tyres), Anu Aga (former Chairman, Thermax) and Rahul Bajaj (Chairman, Bajaj Group) on the panel.

Can India punch above its weight to be considered on par with other super-powers?

At 70, can India mobilize its strengths and galvanize into the role of a serious power player on the global stage? The question is related to the whole new perception of India as a dominant power in South Asia rather than as a Third World country, enabled by our foreign policies, defense strategies and a buoyant economy. The country’s status abroad is key in its emergence as a heavyweight but the foreign service officers’ cadre no longer draws top talent. Is India equipped right for its aspirations? The ‘India Abroad: From Third World to Regional Power’ panel will explore India’s foreign policy with Ashley Tellis, Meera Shankar (Former Foreign Secretary), Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), Jayant Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Are we under-estimating how critical water is in India’s race ahead?

At no other time has water as a natural resource assumed such a big significance. Studies estimate that by 2025 the country will become ‘water–stressed’. While water has been the bone of contention between states and controlling access to water, a source for political power, has water security received the due attention in economic policies and development plans? Relevant to the central issue of water security is also the issue of ‘virtual water’. Virtual water corresponds to the water content (used) in goods and services, bulk of which is in food grains. Through food grain exports, India is a large virtual net exporter of water. In 2014-15, just through export of rice, India exported 10 trillion litres of virtual water. With India’s water security looking grim, are we making the right economic choices? Acclaimed author and academic from the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Amita Bavisar will moderate the session ‘Does India need virtual water?’

Delve into this rich confluence of ideas and more at the ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, presented by Apollo Tyres in association with the British Council and organized by Teamworks Arts during March 29-31, 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. To catch ‘India @ 70’ live online, register here.

At the venue, you could also visit the Partition Museum. Dedicated to the memory of one of the most conflict-ridden chapters in our country’s history, the museum will exhibit a unique archive of rare photographs, letters, press reports and audio recordings from The Partition Museum, Amritsar.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Teamwork Arts and not by the Scroll editorial team.