Attention. The National Anthem begins

The week long International Film Festival of Kerala (IIFK) has come to an end. But even this IFFK is going to be known for something else than it’s movies and the crowd. Twelve people were arrested at IIFK after they refused to stand during the national anthem. Same time a few others were assaulted in Chennai for the same ‘crime’. The arrest rate went up to 20 in just 48 hours after Supreme Court Order. Here is how the international media has been receiving the news.

India is a country where Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971is much honored and revered by it’s citizens. But when the Supreme Court orders it’s citizens to stand in cinema halls while the mandatory Anthem plays is a totally different ball game. Yes, the national anthem lasts only 52 seconds and it is a small period of time to pay respect to our country and as a loyal citizen I would be happy to abide that time. But I do believe that Forced Patriotism may not be Patriotism at all.

Image Courtesy: Google

In India, the time we hear a lot of national anthem is during our school days when it was played everyday when the school ends. I had actually considered this as a sign that every school kid was receiving freedom from school at the end of the day and hence the national anthem. But jokes apart, I think this is what we should be worried about. We are teaching our children not of the emotion behind the national anthem but as a chore they must perform to prove some kind of loyalty. This is bound to backfire.

It is still not clear who is responsible for enforcing this law: The cinema hall owners, the police or just an angry mob? The angry mob has already assaulted women, children and the disabled in the name of our National Anthem. The irony is that all this is being said and done for an anthem written by Rabindranath Tagore who in his letter to A.M Bose wrote:

Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.
- Rabindranath Tagore

We cannot in any sense thrust patriotism upon anyone and hope they become great nationalists for it. It was taught to be a part of India’s great culture that we did not ever thrust our opinion and views upon other countries (Read colonization) We in essence created the biggest democracy in the world to give it’s citizens the authority to rule themselves. In such a country it is sad that such an order is being passed to it’s citizens in the name of national obligation. We must not step into the Bondage of nationalism that Tagore has warned.

In my opinion, it seems like cinema theaters cannot be taken as an institution to enforce this law. It is not a government institution, it does not contribute to national cause, neither are the people attending a cinema up for nationalist pride. If our national anthem needs to be respected, we should focus more into the field of sports or academics. We would love to stand even in our own homes in front of out TV sets to hear Indian National Anthem from the speakers of an International Game.

Although even this cannot be enforced as a law as the case of Colin Kaepernick proved in United States.

May be it is important to look at the American Court ruling on the same.

Patriotism that is forced is a false patriotism just as loyalty that is coerced is the very antithesis of loyalty. We ought not impugn the loyalty of a citizen any more than we ought necessarily to praise the loyalty of a citizen who without conviction or meaning, and with mental reservation, recites the pledge by rote each morning. Surely patriotism and loyalty go deeper than that.
- United States court case, Russo v. Central School District №1,

The respect of a citizen to the National Anthem of his/her country should not come as an obligation but as a sense of loyalty from every citizen with conviction.

Jai Hind