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Supreme Court announced that all cinema halls across the country should compulsorily play the national anthem before the screening of films and that everyone present at the hall must stand up in respect till the national anthem ended. Meanwhile, the national flag should be displayed on the screen while the national anthem is being played.

This move hasn’t been well received unfortunately. Not many people are happy about it. People feel that this is no way to prove one’s patriotism and they mustn’t be asked to mandatorily stand up. However, SC is serious about making this order implemented and it is going to stay.

No, don’t insult your most sacred tune!

1. Why force-feed patriotism? Patriotism comes out of love and respect for one’s nation and that cannot be force-fed to anyone just by making them stand up while the national anthem plays and the national flag is on view. Patriotism is a feeling that should come from within us and not from being told frequently that every time you go to watch a movie, you must revive your patriotism.

2. Not the right place – Imagine national anthem, the most sacred tune of a nation played before the double meaning comedies cracking vulgar jokes and playing songs like “Whole night besharmi ki height”.
There are more formal place for the national anthem to be played than a cinema hall.

3. Why only cinema halls? Cinema halls aren’t a place to instill patriotism. It is one place people go to rejuvenate and enjoy a crappy or once in a while a good movie. Most importantly, why should this order be confined to cinema halls? Other public places like railway stations and airports could be told to play the national anthem before starting the journey. Parliament should begin its sessions with the national anthem.

4. Degrading the national anthem: National anthem is to be played at formal occasions like on “investitures, parades, government functions, presentation of regiment colors and other functions of the president, governor or forces.” Of all places to instill patriotism, cinema halls are no place to get people to feel for their country. Imagine people associating national anthem with crappy movies. This would only make national anthem lose its important.

5. The real issue lost: RSS people beat and humiliate a man confined to wheel chair because he didn’t stand up to the national anthem and the PIL was filed for this reason but the SC decided to go easy on the real issue and give it their own turn by making it mandatory with strict rules. There are issues that need strict rules like not humiliating anyone the way the man was but unfortunately, it came down to force-feeding something that isn’t required.

6. Rights: Our constitution gives us the right to question, criticize and ask for changes regarding the national anthem and even the national flag for that matter. Jana Gana Mana has already been in controversy where a few lines are said to be singing praise of the British ruler of erstwhile days. Forcing people to pay respect to the anthem when people are up for changing it is snatching the constitutional rights of people.

Yes, it’s just a matter of showing respect.

1. Showing respect: While we show pride in being an Indian and when an Indian bags an international title or award, we are still very confused on how to show respect to national anthem and national flag in our own country. Standing up to your country’s national anthem is not to prove patriotism but to instill the feeling of love and respect for your motherland.

2. Lack of guidelines: The earlier incident of someone being beaten up when he did not stand up to the national anthem being played in a movie in the theatre was due to a clear lack of guidelines. Right from the school days we have been taught to rise and pay respect to the national anthem and the national flag but it seems like growing up takes that away from people and that they need to be bound by guidelines to make them follow protocols.

3. Just how hard is it? People going to watch a movie stand in line for ticket and popcorn for too long sometimes. People can stand hours when they have to but wouldn’t care standing a few minutes to pay respect to their own national anthem. Just how hard is it to show some respect and unity to your country’s flag and anthem? We simply have to make a controversy out of every order that comes out with restrictions.

4. Uniting the divided: We are divided by caste, religion, status, state and what not. The only thing that integrates us into one is our nationality. Once in a while showing and feeling that unity is important. People will see and feel that there is something in common between everyone at the theatre which instills the feeling of being united as a nation.

NRIs will cry how their heart bleeds for the country when they hear the national anthem abroad but the same people would leave the motherland for better living. Instead of measuring one’s patriotism from the way they display their patriotism in public, more awareness about making people treat each other with humility is required. While there is no harm in standing up to the national anthem, there is definite harm if someone is humiliated for not doing so.

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