The Indian national anthem, like any other country’s national anthem, is a conglomeration of India’s history, memories of freedom struggle, its ideals and the unifying force which had kept Indians united for so long. These elements evoke an emotional attachment to the nation and lets people find one single identity keeping their own caste, religion and linguistic identities at bay. Therefore it is quite natural for people to turn offensive if they think their national anthem is not being respected. Stating that, I want to establish the point that how this ruling by the Supreme Court can turn out to be dangerous for our nationhood. Here are answers to a few obvious questions which one might encounter while opposing this move.
There is literally no immediate harm in standing up for the national anthem. Rather, it is a matter of pride to stand up for one’s country. We already have become accustomed to stand in long queues before banks and ATMs, so standing up for another 52 seconds will not cause any adverse effects. We can at least dedicate 52 seconds of our life in respect for our country.
That is the problem, the word ‘compulsory’. Love and respect are such feelings which cannot be invoked through compulsions.
To some extent. Maybe, maybe not.
Though this mandate may not cause any immediate harm, its long-term effect can be fatal for our country as a whole and for our fellow countrymen too. It may instill a jingoistic fervour in the minds of the people, leading to more cases of mob justice if a person refuses to stand or even in genuine cases like that of a wheelchair-bound man getting beaten up for not standing during the anthem, sometimes even taking extreme forms of violence. It will provide a free hand to extreme patriots to take laws in their own hands, while holding immunity from being prosecuted, all in the name of national interest. We have witnessed enough examples recently, including the wheelchair-bound Salil Chaturvedi, being thrashed in a Goa theatre. A family belonging to a particular community could be forced to leave the theater for not standing up for the anthem.
Even imagining these gruesome incidents, can give anyone chills down their spine. Believe me there is no deficiency of such nuts in our country who don’t even think before turning aggressive and taking laws in their own hands. The national anthem should be respected, but not necessarily in the way most people think. Moreover, people go to theatres to relax and enjoy, why is it even necessary to play the national anthem at theatres?