On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that playing the national anthem before the screening of a film in cinema halls is now mandatory, along with an image of the national flag on the screen.
Further, the ruling states that everyone, excepting the disabled, must stand while it is being played, as it would “instill a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in the citizens. The court has also ruled that the anthem should not be commercially exploited, dramatized or printed on any objectionable material.
The point of the guidelines, says the court, is to promote national identity, integrity, and constitutional patriotism. States and union territories have been given a week to ensure awareness and compliance.
The court said: “Time has come for people to realize that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism… people must feel they live in a nation and this wallowing individually perceived notion of freedom must go… people must feel this is my country, my motherland.”
I beg your pardon?
Wallowing individually perceived notion of freedom? Ouch. Now you’re just being rude, grandpa.
“People must feel this is my country, my motherland.” Are you telling me I am now obligated to feel proud of my country? Forget about the freedom to express how I feel, I am not even free to feel the way I want to? Well, if that isn’t twisted!
Why this isn’t a good idea:
Has the SC forgotten that even before this ruling, there have been multiple cases when people who did not stand up while the national anthem was being played were bullied and harassed for it, all in the name of this constitutional patriotism?
This ruling will only legitimize the idea that hooliganism is okay if you do it for the love of the country. The way I see it, it goes against what our country stands for.
According to the MHA’s Orders relating to the National Anthem of India, “Whenever the anthem is sung or played, the audience shall stand to attention.” There is no mention of a penalty in case you fail to comply because these guidelines were meant to be advisory, not legislative.
I think there’s a very good reason these guidelines were not laid down as laws in the constitution. In a cinema, you have a readily available captive audience that has no choice but to be present when the national anthem is being played, so now that it’s compulsory to stand, they just have to do it regardless of whether they feel any sense of patriotism.
Patriotism is not something which can be force-fed. Those who don’t harbor such sentiments will not suddenly feel patriotic because they were forced to stand up for the national anthem. Moreover, you are cheapening the value of the anthem by forcing people to respect it.
What’s next? Mandating the enunciation of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at the end of every film?
Given the rate at which SC rulings are getting ridiculous, I wouldn’t be surprised.
In case you want to check out a true example of patriotism: