Supreme Court

Nationalism and the National Anthem at Theatres

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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.