Last month, a three-judge bench of the Supreme court has once again brought back the spotlight on the debate over the mandate of playing of the national anthem at cinema halls. The statement of justice D. Y. Chandrachud in the case is very heartening. He reinforced that there is no basis for making it compulsory for people to wear their patriotism on their sleeves.
Like the legal doctrine for humans “innocent until proven guilty” it is also true that all citizens should be treated with respect and dignity and it should be assumed that they are “patriotic till proven to be otherwise”
Citizens earning an honest living in the country, performing their daily duties with diligence and sincerity, are all patriots. The farmer who puts in his blood and sweat to grow crops is a patriot. The soldier who opted for the hardship that his profession entails, fighting the inclement weather, in faraway Ladakh, Tarnot, Doklam or Kutch, is a nationalist and a patriot. The student who focuses on his studies and works to fulfill dreams of a better future is as much a patriot, as is the homemaker who looks after the family and strives to instill in them good human values.
Those who murdered a free-spirited journalist in the heart of a metro city, launching an attack on our constitutional ideal of liberty, are not patriots. Those who carried the tricolor and chanted slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at Patiala house in Delhi, but assaulted a student falsely implicated with the charges of sedition, are far from being nationalists. Those who engage in corrupt practices and loot the system, while living luxurious lives on such ill-gotten wealth, are only worthy of being tried for treason!
Justice Chandrachud has pointed out quite well that people walk into a cinema for pure entertainment, and that the movie theatre cannot be treated as the arena for the test of nationalism.
If you happen to be in a cinema hall just look around you and see carefully, you will see many people standing up for the national anthem with a coke in one hand and a bucket of popcorn in another, and that is a ridiculous sight. Most people stand for fear of the law, not for love of the country.
Patriotism is not something that can be force-fed like a bitter pill. Like one’s allegiance to one’s family, patriotism arises spontaneously, when the country and its government provides the right environment for the spirit to foster. In our haste to elicit cliches of patriotism, let us not kill the true enablers that nurture the sentiment in the first place. Long Live Mother India!
- The Exhibition of Patriotism and the Indian Anthem - November 5, 2017
- The Assassination of Critical Dissent: Long Live, Gauri Lankesh - September 6, 2017