The recent move making the national anthem a mandatory part of the cinema experience has done nothing more than highlight the issue of forcing patriotism on citizens. This has led to several cases of violence against people who did not stand up during the anthem, even a case where a disabled person, who didn’t have the ability to be upstanding, being violently attacked has come to be in light of this move by the politicians of the country. When a man who is unable to stand from his wheelchair due to his inability to do so is attacked for such a feeble reason, it is time to seriously reconsider the kind of moves that have been taken.
What this means
This brings us to the conclusion that making nationalism forceful and compulsory in any such public forum or gathering should be something that is done after much thought, deliberation and reasoning and not something one arrives at lightly. However, the Supreme Court of India is now looking into making the national anthem mandatory in schools and other institutions of education in response to a statement made by none other than the Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi that the singing of the national anthem does the important task of instilling patriotism in children from a young age and is thus integral to the country.
This statement, however, has been made quite thinly and without precedent, and the bench of the apex court has said that for any decision to be made regarding its validity, a decent amount of further deliberation is necessary before any substantial decision is to be made. One must ask that at a time when the school and education system in India is being talked about so aggressively in terms of the plethora of problems it is beset by including but not in any way limited to the lack of teachers, archaic teaching methodology and syllabus, why is the government focussing on something so disparate from the real issues. It seems that by invoking a spirit of patriotism and nationalism they aim to do nothing more than beguile the public into believing that they are improving the education system, by simply creating new issues and only partially dealing with them.
The spirit of patriotism and love for one’s country is not instilled in a child by making them sing the country’s national anthem, in fact this could have a negative effect if it is simply relegated to a mandatory part of a child’s day. A school can choose to put time aside for the anthem if they are willing to instil in a child the value behind singing the anthem and what it’s purpose is and the importance it holds to the country. But to turn it into a mandatory task for the schools to conduct all for a pollical move towards a sense of false nationalism is to cheapen one of our country’s greatest and most proud artefacts of independence.
The mandate on playing the national anthem in movie theatres has taught us many lessons as a country as to the pitfalls of cheapening our treasured anthem in such a way, but it appears as it stands that all of these lessons have been in vain as Rohatgi and others who think like him have learnt nothing from this incident. This news comes soon after the Supreme Court of India had moved to refuse a plea which would have made the national anthem compulsory at all public offices including the parliament, assemblies and in the courts.