Saturday, October 28, 2017

The National Anthem issue resurfaces

I had pondered over this subject last year and reading the old post will help to get the context of this post better.

Almost all people screaming vociferously on this issue are missing  what in corporate jargon we call the big picture. There are a couple of points to take into consideration before discussing  the act of  respecting the national anthem, if one should stand or sit when the national anthem is being  played.

Let us separate this discussion into 3 parts

1)     The appropriateness of a court asking theatres to play the national anthem
-         The moot point is whether courts can pass arbitrary and possibly illegal orders and usurp the job of the executive. It is absolutely shameful that the government and the parliamentarians are happy with the courts taking over their job. Passing laws is parliament’s job. It is not the job of an unelected body.  However it benefits the leaders when they can have unpopular decisions taken by someone else. Why do we need parliament at all if courts have assumed the role of law making?  My earlier blog mentions how the whole controversy started and why the court order is improper. So to sum it up, this controversy has started from an improper if not incorrect order.
-         Luckily the Supreme Court seems to have realized that they have bitten off a bit more than they can chew and are trying to deflect the whole controversy by pushing it to the government.  A correct approach would have been to admit that they, the court were wrong and rescind their order.  This turnaround by the lordships is bizarre particularly since one of the judges seems to be attacking his own order.
-         The puzzling part is why only cinema ? Why not before a court session starts ? Why not before a flight takes off?  Why not before offices, parliament …. Incidentally someone has asked for the anthem to be played before court starts and was told by the court “not to take things too far”.

2)     Patriotism and the national anthem
-         Patriotism cannot cannot be forced. I think by and large people are patriotic and the national anthem has been imbibed into us from early childhood. Hard boiled egg as I am, the anthem  brings a lump to my throat when I hear it on republic day. The same sentiment does not repeat when I hear the anthem in a cinema hall just before a movie starts. I do resent anything pushed down on me and while I will respect the anthem by standing up when played, the resentment of this forced patriotism will continue. The national anthem is a solemn “work” and in order to preserve the solemnness ,  we should restrict the frequency with which it is played and more important the forum in which it is played. The reason why it was stopped being played in cinemas a few decades back was the disrespect shown when people rushed out of the theatres when it started playing.

3)     Standing up when the anthem is being played
-         Now let us discuss the point on whether it is unpatriotic for someone not to stand when the anthem is being played. From my point of view, it is a sign of disrespect to the country not standing when it is being played. There might be a couple of reasons why someone does not stand up for the anthem
a)     He might have some genuine reason. This is a no brainer and does not need  discussion.
b)     He might oppose imposition of something on him and is not gripped with the same fervour that some people have.  Citizens of this country do have their rights and the absolute right to exercise them. If there is no law currently that mandates someone to stand during playing of the anthem,  we just have to respect the person’s right not to stand much as we disagree with it. If there is very strong public desire the government should make a law. Such a law would have to pass the test of not being against a fundamental right of expression and more learned minds than mine can comment on this.
c)      He might just not identify himself as a citizen of the country and might be an unpatriotic Indian.  Such incidents do  need to be condemned.
I gathered from some “debates” on TV that certain liberals, fiberals, pseudo secularists, commies are asking people not to stand when the anthem is played but could not encounter the identities of such people using  cursory google search. Anyway if some one is preaching such ideologies it needs to be condemned. The best way to deal with someone trying to start a controversy is to ignore him. You defeat his purpose in a simple way.

What is extremely dangerous is the polarization being created by politicians and worse certain news channels by trying to stoke up a controversy.  The distinction between cinema and news is slowly blurring and it would be most appropriate to play the national anthem before the news. As an afterthought, I would suggest to the right wing television channels to play the national anthem before office starts.