Nationalism and the National Anthem at Theatres



The Supreme Court of India has been the figure head and guardian of the Constitution of our country and history has proven that it has been the last bastion of democracy. However, the very same organ that is established to protect the fundamental rights of the members of the country, has violated them in a shocking judgement. The bench of Justices Dipak Mishra and Amitava Roy, today, mandated that the Indian National Anthem must be compulsorily played at every theatre across the country before a movie begins.


This judgement of the Supreme Court has been delivered at a time when there is a worrying increase in the usage of the word ‘Nationalism’.  The word itself is fairly harmless. It denotes pride and patriotism for a citizen of particular country towards his or her country. However, Nationalism today has become the dagger of action and the shield from repercussions. Almost as if an escutcheon, incidents of crowd vigilantism, lynching and communalism has taken shelter in the public eye. The Nationalist agenda runs deeper and thicker than what it actually means and has traditionally manifested in vested interests using it as a tool to further power.


Nationalism and Dictators

History has shown us that the rise of nationalism has been followed with dictatorial reigns with vested interests. The rise of Nazism in Germany, Idi Amin in Uganda, Facism in Italy, Soviet Communism(Stalin) in USSR, Fransico Franco in Spain, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Gaddafi of Libya.  Nationalism is an ideology evokes enthusiasm—elicits an emotional response—to the extent that it articulates a fantasy that is shared by members of a population. And when such an enthusiasm can be captured by a powerful and admired leader of the society, it can elicit passion among the population. Passion is usually associated with an enemy and this can be dangerous as the enemy could be anybody or anything that the leader directs to be.


Something more disconcerting is the rise of nationalism in India, at a time when borders between countries are vanishing and the world is becoming a unified global country. If borders are to be taken into cognizance then one must first delve into the borders that exist in our very own country. With 29 States and even more cultures in a single country, India really is multiple countries within the single country. For instance, a Punjabi Sindhi would find more in common with a Pakistani than a Tamilian or a Keralite. The Tamilian or a Keralite will be more similar to a Sri Lankan than an India from Assam. However, the Punjabi, the Tamil, the Keralite and the Assamese are bound by the agenda of India and nationalism while Sri-Lanka or Pakistan become the neighbour or the enemy. It’s not to say that we must wage war upon our brethren in various parts of country, but a hilarious factual representation of why nationalism is a concept which is fictional and fairy-dust.


“Time has come when people must respect national anthem which is part of constitutional patriotism. People must feel that it is their country. It is because of the country that they are enjoying freedom and liberty” – Justice Dipak Mishra, Hon’ble Judge Supreme Court of India


“Your life is bound up with the life of your whole people(your country). The nation is not merely the root of your strength; it is the root of your very life” – Adolf Hitler, Dictator and murderer of 6 million people


The Solution – Not Nationalism but National Fraternity

There exist too many differences between the very members of our own great country. Unity is mere term and divisiveness exists in spirit and can be seen in day-to-day interactions with people in different states. However, to genuinely overcome this challenge, one must lift the veil of nationalism and look beyond it into jungles of culture and fraternity. While students in school are taught that India is a melting pot of cultures, they’re not taught enough about the ingredients that make up the wonderful stew in the pot. Acceptance to different cultures, religions, languages, food, personal choices and lifestyles is the first step in achieving this object of fraternity.


Tolerance allows free and rational thinking and bring people together. Indians will love India, not because they happened to be born in specific geographical zone in the world, but because they genuinely love the people of the country and hence, love the country as a whole.


Will Employers Reqlinquish their Digital Leash?


In France, President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party is about to vote through a measure that will give employees for the first time a “right to disconnect”. Soon companies of more than 50 people will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours – normally in the evening and at the weekend – when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails. It is an imitative that has been in the pipeline for months now and was globally mocked as a socialist move. There exist several press images of Government Inspectors snooping on industrious and hard work workers. It was largely panned as a move that intervened into the private lives of dedicated employees and growing industries that are making their break in a competitive environment. However, is it really as silly as it sounds?


The last 25 years has been dominant by great and rapid change. The internet and ease of access to various modes of communication has shrunk the world and has brought people together. However, as the proverbial saying goes, every positive is usually accompanied with a negative, the digitalisation of communication and transfer of information has significantly impacted the life of the employee. Use of laptops, smart-phones and internet is now a universal phenomenon and almost every working person has access to both. It also means access to e-mails is now prevalent 24/7 as opposed to 8 hours a day at the office before the technology explosion.


Impact of Technology Explosion


All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant. Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails – they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.


With the technology explosion there is now a real threat to the personal life of an employee. When you’re home, you’re not really at home and this poses a great danger to relationships. There is tremendous physical, psychological and emotional distress caused by a total inability to rest.


A survey by industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India in 2012 showed that due to demanding schedules and high stress levels, nearly 78% of corporate employees in India sleep less than six hours a day, leading to severe sleep disorders. The survey pointed out that 21% of the people in the sample suffered from depression, the third most prevalent lifestyle disease, ahead of high blood pressure and diabetes.



The ‘So What’?


India is a country notorious for the little regulation in favour of professionals and graduate employees (anyone that is not a labourer). This has led to incredibly high work hours, working weekends, increased stress and discomfort in personal relations due to all of the above. It’s very evident that the employers have to take initiative on controlling the work hours of employees and ensuring that their employees remain stress free. A conscious and concerted effort to ensure that there is minimal work related communication off-work hours will go a long way in not only relieving the employee of work stress but also in improving his/her work creativity and efficiency.


A regulation like what is being passed in France will not be passed in India unless there is a serious uprising from the working class regarding work stress. This is an under-current of unhappiness at the workplace which does not get communicated to those charged with governance as there is a reluctance to speak about it. There is apprehension as to how it would be construed. However, as the adage goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Unless there is some noise made about it, it will continue to remain in a state of state decisis. Even if regulators fail to take notice, employers will take notice and will encourage activities for the welfare of their employees.