Standing for the National Anthem. Anathema enough to Stand One’s ground against?



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Standing Up for the National Anthem

The Honourable Supreme Court of India has ordained  that the Indian National Anthem  be played before the start of any movie in Indian theatres.The audience needs to stand up as a sign of respect for the nation and its anthem. The SC gave its verdict in response to an application before it.  Not very surprisingly, this has raised mixed reactions.

On one hand we have the ‘nationalists’ who welcome the move. According to them the direction to stand up while the Jana Gana Mana’ is being played is an opportunity. A chance to engender values of patriotism in the common man. They wonder why anyone who is not ‘anti-national’ should have a problem standing for the typical 52 seconds’ duration. Whether intentionally or otherwise they may also be challenging a few minor sections of some religious minorities. This minority segment (within the minority) seems more fixated on specific religious dogmas which incidentally doesn’t influence those of their ilk in other countries.

 Anathema enough to Stand One’s ground against?

The ‘liberals’ on the other hand believe this direction of the SC is very high-handed. They fear that ‘right wing’ practices are slowly being injected into the national psyche. These souls may also believe the Constitution gives them the Freedom to stand and sit at their own individual pleasure. They therefore may wish to stand their ground by sitting down when the Jana Gana Mana is being played.

Cool Chilli’s Comments

Prima facie, Cool Chilli’s view is that what has been asked for, is not very difficult. Standing for 52 seconds, that is. If a person can physically travel to a movie theatre and sit for 90/180 minutes, he or she can in most probablity stand for a minute as well. That is, unless the person is suffering from some injury or ailment. In which case, the Law and those around will surely give allowance. (One can still be helped into a movie theatre, even if one is physically unable to stand by oneself for more than 5-10 seconds).

Going by the view above, it looks churlish for someone not to stand up when the anthem is being played. Some months back, a sports icon in the U.S. had raised a banner of protest by not standing up for the Star Spangled Banner.(Refer links below.) This was to highlight the prejudice suffered by Blacks in general in the US. More particularly the killing of Blacks by Police officers in seemingly racist behaviour.

Is a Nihilist, an anti-national ?

Each country has its sets of Rebels or Nihilists, who may wish to protest against certain recent developments or historical wrongs or prejudices. But branding them ‘anti-national’ is  far from ideal. Yes, it is an obvious sign of rebellion or disrespect. Something which right-thinking persons, even if left-leaning, may wish to avoid being guilty of. But does this in itself, make one a Maoist /terrorist/ anti-national element? TThese ‘edgy’ rebels and contrarians are also vital for our vibrant democracy to continue to flourish. Else there is always a danger of groupthinking making lemmings of us.

Most of us would get up when our retired school teacher, or grandparent enters the room. One of us not getting up, is not something we would encourage. But unless the rebel ‘actively abuses or disrespects’ the revered person, physically or verbally , we would just ignore him or her. With the hope that better sense would gradually dawn.

In Conclusion

In ending, one wishes that the Honourable Supreme Court had reserved or moderated its ruling or direction. The country is moving to progress in many areas. We need progressive rules and regulations which helps us maintain peace and order. Also help citizens be socially and economically engaged without fear or fetters. The limited infrastructure available with the Executive/Administration is better leveraged in these pursuits.

Hauling an illiterate migrant daily wage labourer who has come into a theatre for some moments of escapism would not be a very motivating activity for a policeman. At, we believe the Constitution and its Guardians look/will look for ways to stand up for citizens, especially the underprivileged. However well intentioned, making the common man stand up in a euphemistic sign of patriotism, seems unnecessary.

Related Reading

Escapism and escaping the Court’s orders

Against the Star Spangled Banner

Protest against disrespecting the Star Spangled Banner

An American coach’s initiative to imbibe respect for the Star Spangled Banner

Etiquette for Respecting the US National Symbols