World of India!: National Anthem in Multiplexes in India - Teacher, leave us kids alone ! e

World of India!

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National Anthem in Multiplexes in India - Teacher, leave us kids alone !

Since a few years now, I have noticed a new trend when I go to watch the movies. Just before the movie starts the Mngt. "requests'" you to stand and pay your respects while they play the national anthem in the movie hall, just before the movie starts. This trend is true in almost all multiplexes in Mumbai and a few in Pune.

Now, no one will shy away from singing his own national anthem, but surely there is a time and a place for everything? What this drive amounts to is forcing people (since there is no choice but to stand up once a anthem is played, without that action signifying a dis-respect to the anthem, although Vikram Chauhan would dispute that) into displaying their love for their nation, when they have come to enjoy a movie. More importantly why do we as a nation feel the urge that our citizens have to repeatedly publicly proclaim and display the respect to the nation? Why can't our minders let us decide when we want to pay our respects to the nation and in what form? Its as if the powers that be have decided that the masses are a idiotic lot who don't have the heart & brains to decide this and therefore come up with this silly diktat.

At a broader level, nationalism and its jingoistic display is something that is becoming a feature of India and Indians. While at one end we have a whole bunch of people who have a massive inferiority complex about all things Indian, on the other side we have a equally idiotic bunch who see India as the be all and end all in everything on this planet ("ah, planes? we discovered it thousands of years ago! Nuclear bombs? Cmon, India discovered the Brahmstra as early as in the age of Mahabharata!). In the past decade or so, the much lauded 9% growth rate and the emergence of India in the mind space of the world at large, has given much ammunition to a display of nationalistic sentiment which is more often than not crass, rather than a genuine display of affection and respect for India and its culture. In reality, it stems from an inferiority complex about India and is an attempt to conquer this feeling of inadequacy with a desire to distinguish oneself through the concrete achievements of other fellow Indians on the world stage or even the much more abstract- 9% growth rate.

There is a thin line between being patriotic and being nationalistic. Charles De Gaulle defined this rather well when he said " Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first. "

So when people pay respects to the nation and its culture of their own accord, it can be safely described as positive love. But when some one in the political leadership forces people to display such a respect, invading and not taking into consideration the context of time and space in which these people are, surely this is nothing but nationalism?

Einstein once famously castigated nationalism as an infantile disease and a measles of mankind.Going by recent evidence, it seems that the authorities, have decided that they want more of this disease shoved down our throats.


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May 04, 2007 10:00 AM

I love the De Gaulle quote - so true.    

May 05, 2007 12:48 PM

Good post. I agree that some of this is due to the feeling of inadequacy; but I'm not sure the jingoism element is strong.

On the other hand, we are a culture that puts much into the respect for symbols. So disrespect for 'national symbols' can evoke strong negative reactions.

Be that as it may be, I think (and as Gaurav wrote recently) we have laws that empower the most intolerant segments. Those need to go.

As for de Gaulle's statement: I think it's a very European perspective. I'd venture to suggest that nationalism in the Indian context is indistinguishable from patriotism.    

May 07, 2007 1:29 AM

The De Gaulle comment is true. Patriotism, or love of one's country, city, village, is as natural as rain. But Nationalism seems like such an imposition obligation to love and respect your country. I do love my country and I'm never ashamed to say it. But I always cringe when I hear someone say 'all civilisation came from India' or 'Only India and Indians know what family is'.
To a huge extent, I blame our current obsession with nationalism on the jingoistic patriotism purveyed by movies like 'Gadar' or 'Aa ab laut chalein' 'LOC'. Or maybe its just that art is imitating life.    

July 17, 2007 3:26 PM

Fine post i must say.

Your argument is very valid and carries weight at multiple instances in the post. However, what puzzles me is that the instigation for this post came because you had to sing the anthem while at a movie.

At the National Defense academy in Pune, all who attend any function or a movie at the Hall stand up for the national anthem. We hated it then and i am sure people still dont like it.

But then again - we hate uniforms for school. We hate office timings and we hate rules. Yet we have them and to be fair - they play a good role in defining the boundaries of sanity and order.

But i also admit - the very cause of national patriotism should not arise from such instances because it cannot. The feeling towards a country and its well being should arise from the individual. And what it takes to get this feeling aroused is best left to the individual himself.

our instinctive nature gives us the approval for an acephalous way of life but in the end we look for guidance and approval in the most simplest of things.    

July 11, 2008 4:29 PM

Finally atleast some people agree with my views.

I have had a big problem with this standing up for national anthem thing ever since mumbai started this trend. My question is, Why only Mumbai and the one Esquare in Pune? Are we less patriotic? Would we become more by standing up to the national anthem? I guess those in other cities and towns wear their patriotism on their sleeves.

But I am happy to see that after years of arguing about this with my friends--- who incidently totally "love the idea", and get "goose bumps" and what not,-- I am seeing a viewpoint similar to that of mine.

I am not even trying to prove my patriotism here. I just want my freedom of expression and right to not stand up upheld.    

December 22, 2008 6:26 PM

I live in Calcutta and I almost got thrown out of FAME for having an opinion.
I respect my country, but that doesn't mean that I have to stand up when Pseudo-Patriots play the national anthem on the big screen.

Some show-off thought that he'd be a hero and he went and complained to the manager to have us thrown out but thankfully I was able to confuse the guy with shit about caste distinction and religious disparities and shit.
I asked him to bugger off because we had also paid for the movie.

P.S. The SHOW-OFF guy stopped singing after the first paragraph which proves that he didn't know the anthem by heart.

Our tradition teaches tolerance, our philosophy teaches tolerance, our Constitution practices tolerance, let us not dilute it.    

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