In a ‘shocking’ news today, a family in Mumbai was asked to get out of a theatre as they refused to respect the National Anthem and chose not to stand up, as it is required. As it happens in present media scenario, coupled with the towering 72-point headline and prime time obsession with the word ‘intolerance’, the video went viral. The news was covered showing the family being asked out from the theatre.
One can sense the issue being taken up by the custodians of every-single-thing in India, in today’s prime time debates with raging fire coming out of our dragon-like news anchors.
A family being forced out is as shocking as them choosing not to stand up during the time the Anthem was being played. It was not a football anthem, it was the Indian National Anthem. People have laid down their lives to have a nation for us and it is the least that we as citizens should do.
Personal freedom doesn’t mean you do whatever you like. Personal freedom is choosing not to enter the theatre when the anthem was being played. Personal freedom is choosing not to feel good about this nation and its national symbols.
Personal freedom has been guaranteed by our Constitution. But the same Constitution expects us to follow some duties as citizens. Respecting the nation and its symbols are some among many.
It is a reality that my friends in Army are stationed in Siachen where temperature goes down to -40°C. It is another reality that even in the absence of any military threat at that altitude, they are guarding it. It is another reality that people from all walks of lives have sacrificed their lives for the nation.
People do their jobs and continue to live in this nation passed on as a socio-political and cultural entity which gives us several rights as citizens and makes sure they are not attacked.
Expecting someone to stand during the National Anthem is neither hyper-nationalism nor jingoism, it is rather the minimum amount of respect we can give to the nation where the usual phrases and abuses to India and the idea of India is guarded by our Constitution itself.
India and the idea of India are not related to Modi, BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress or any person or party. They are insignificant parts of a whole. They neither own it nor can dictate it to go one way.
We own India. It is a heritage. It is the thread that keeps us together in the times of crisis as well as in the times when we do something great. It is the beauty of the people, irrespective of their religious identities, stand together when Akhlaq is lynched. It is the beauty of this country when a Muslim girl recites Geeta and A Hindu knows Quran by heart.
This beauty needs to be preserved. This idea needs to stay in the times when a breaking news that concerns no one is blown to proportions unimagined to hide the actual issues that plague our societies.
At the same time, mob justice is heinous. One must not be forced, kicked and killed by a mob just for the simple fact that we have a judiciary and policing system to take care of it.
However, in my personal opinion, respecting national symbols and identities is a non-negotiable thing. If we enjoy the rights, we must do our duties.