In its order dated Monday 23rd October 2017, the Honorable Supreme Court took a U-Turn on its own order given on 30th November last year, which necessarily required movie theaters to play national anthem, and people to stand in respect. A bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud has now observed that the earlier order could have been ‘misused’ for ‘moral policing’, and asked the government to review the laws in this respect, and communicate its opinion to the court on the 9th of January 2018, which is when the next hearing will be conducted in this case.
It must be noted, that the government had asked the court, not to change its order given last year. Also, it is interesting to see the change in opinion of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who had himself given the last year’s order. However, even more interesting is the reactions of some of the celebrities. It is well known how cricketer Gautam Gambhir came out strongly in support of standing for the national anthem. Though acclaimed bollywood actress Vidya Balan has different views on the issue. At the launch of Shobhaa De’s book – ‘Seventy And To Hell With It’ in an event named ‘Penguin Fever 2017’ she said that “it’s stifling” and even termed the compulsion to stand in respect of the anthem as “forced patriotism”.
Playing of national anthem in cinema halls was ordered after the 1962 India-China war, when the feeling of nationalism was very strong with the Indian Army fighting against a powerful enemy on the border. Back then however, the national anthem used to come at the end of the movie instead of the beginning, as is the case today. People used to appreciate it a lot, and stayed back for it, even after the movie had ended. Only those who didn’t know about the anthem order, used to miss it, as they’d leave the cinema hall thinking that the show had finished.
Implementation of the order started to be ignored until India had to fight wars again. This time it was Pakistan, in 1965, 1971, and then again during the 1999 Kargil conflict. Another time when national anthem boosts nationalist and patriotic sentiments, is when India faces Pakistan on the cricket field, in the ICC events like World Cup and Champion’s Trophy (known as ICC Knockouts earlier). Apart from this, playing of national anthem has been restricted to the two national holidays: Independence Day i.e. 15th August and Republic Day i.e. 26th January, that too in schools, colleges and programs in government offices and establishments. The playing of national anthem in movie theatres as a practice had almost ended, until the Supreme Court itself passed the last year’s order, which came after 12 years of hearing on the PIL filed by an individual named Shyam Narayan Chouksey, who felt hurt at the disrespect of the national anthem and himself, when he stood up in respect while watching the movie ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ in December 2001 at Jyoti talkies (now Jyoti multiplex), Bhopal. Our feelings are no less different to those of Mr. Chouksey on the issue.
There are some people who reckon the National Anthem is only a mere song. They are probably unaware of the fact that the very anthem was the lifeline for thousands of freedom fighter throughout the twentieth century. Even today, our soldiers are sacrificing their lives in honour of this anthem. National anthem is the pious factor which unites us all, which makes all Indians one regardless of their castes, creeds, religions, states etc. For many of us, every movie is an opportunity for us to proudly sing the National Anthem and it is still hard to understand how can standing for 52 seconds be “forceful” to some living in India?
It is the reason why we also support cricketer Gautam Gambhir’s statement, that if one can stand and wait for their chance to enter a club or a restaurant for half an hour or so, it is not difficult to stand in respect of the national anthem for just 52 seconds. We strongly object to Vidya Balan’s statement calling it ‘forced patriotism’, as well as disagree with the U-Turn by the Supreme Court. They seem to be either influenced or compromised, under pressure of the ‘Leftist’ and ‘Pseudo Liberal’ lobby of the country, which is known for their ‘Anti National’ agenda. We feel it’s high time Indians realized, that national anthem deserves respect at all the times, and not just during wars, cricket matches or national holidays.