By Alok Kumar Choudhary
For the past few days, the nation has witnessed a debate on the issue of National Anthem. In the year 2016, the supreme court gave directions to make national anthem mandatory to play in cinema halls before the movie begins. But a few days back the supreme court decided to re-examine the past order where it decided to make national anthem compulsory in cinema halls. A petition was filed in the supreme court claiming that cinema halls are not the place to show patriotism and making national anthem compulsory in cinema halls will act like a “forced patriotism”. The bench led by chief justice DY Chandrachud in supreme court laid emphasis on that people do not need to stand up at cinema hall to be perceived as patriotic and it cannot be assumed if a person does not stand up for the national anthem is less patriotic.
The latest view of the supreme court on playing national anthem in theatres started a heated debate, some came in the support of the supreme court latest view while on the other hand, some believe that there is nothing wrong in standing for the national anthem in the cinema halls. There may be a discussion on whether we should play national anthem in cinema halls or not but the discussion should not be centered towards whether we should stand up for the national anthem or not. We need to look at the issue in a different perspective to understand the issue in a better way. India can be truly said as a country where most of the things work on emotions. Can anyone in this country make a family without investing emotions, most probably the answer will be no because in a family everyone is connected with emotions and same applies to the country also.
A country is like a family for us and to connect ourselves with the country, we definitely need emotions. A national anthem is a tool which helps us to bring a sense of emotion within us which later turns into a patriotic spirit for the country. As a son or daughter, we never wait for right time to make our parents realize that we love them, instead whenever we get an opportunity, we show love towards them. So, why we should restrict the role of singing or playing national anthem only during the independence or republic day in order to show our love towards the country.
While debating this topic, many argue that cinema halls are a place of entertainment, as a result, national anthem must not be enforced but if cinema halls are the place of entertainment then what about playing national anthem during sporting events. After all, sporting events are also a form of entertainment, so what stops us to stand for the national anthem in cinema halls just because we are holding a popcorn packets in our hands? Generating an atmosphere of patriotism cannot be termed as a “forced patriotism” because we abide by our constitution which talks about respecting national anthem and prevention of insults to national honor act 1971 is an act of parliament of India which prohibits the desecration of or insults to the national symbols. We must remember anthems involve emotions, pride for the country. Singing and respecting the anthem is an emotional decision especially when you are feeling proud, hopeful and joyous. Any national symbols cannot be a subject of debate because these symbols install a sense of patriotism in all.
In India, patriotism is a much-needed concept as we have a long history of invasions by foreign invaders and our country witnessed such time only because there was lack of the spirit of patriotism among us, as a result, we remained divided for years. National anthem or any other national symbols act a catalyst which unites us by installing an emotion of patriotism. It is right to say that standing for the national anthem in cinema halls will not prove our patriotism but will refusing to stand for national anthem can prove our patriotism? We must look at our brave soldiers standing on borders to safeguard our nation irrespective of any hostile circumstances, 24 hours, 365 days in a year, so why we are refraining us to stand during the national anthem in cinema halls which merely takes around 53 seconds. In the name of democracy, we cannot indulge ourselves in demanding to provide us the right to choose whether we should rise for the National anthem or not.
If charkha, satyagraha were the weapons during the freedom struggle then “Jana Gana Mana” was also there as it was first played in the year 1911 during the convention of Congress party. We are a democratic nation but at the same time, it is our responsibility to respect our national symbols without starting a silly debate. Patriotism cannot be forced on anyone because it comes from the heart but we need customs or laws to ensure that patriotism is not becoming a forgotten spirit. The need of the hour is to stop debating issues of national symbols in order to preserve the unity of this country.
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. TIME8 neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)