National Anthem back in news: By palming off decision to Centre, Supreme Court has opened us up to uncertainty

Deviating from its earlier observation, the Supreme Court on Monday said that people do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism, asking the Centre to consider amending the rules that regulate playing of the National Anthem before a movie. The next hearing in the matter is on 9 January, 2018.

The Supreme Court, has thus allowed for uncertain four months.

National Anthem back in news: By palming off decision to Centre, Supreme Court has opened us up to uncertainty

Representational image. AP

The deadline for the Centre to decide on this issue and amend the December 2016 order allows for conflict and confrontation between the zealots who have yanked people out of wheelchairs and the less vociferous exponents of patriotism worn on its sleeve who believe it should not be mandatory to stand up straight in cinemas instead of rummaging on the seats to collect one's belongings and packing to leave before the crowd as the 'The End' flashes on the screen.

These two schools of thought will pit themselves against each other and the odds strongly favour combat in the aisles, so who needs Bruce Willis and Vijay.

I think where the Supreme Court has missed the target on an otherwise sensible slew of observations is on bluntly declaring cinema halls an inappropriate place in which to play the anthem. And it is. You cannot force human beings to feel any surge of love for the country and the flag when the occasion does not lend itself to that mindset.

Tomorrow you go to listen to Russel Peters or listen to an AR Rahman concert you are not in the mood for a capsule of audio-visual patriotic fervour.

The anthem is played at international sports meets to inculcate a sense of oneness and pride in the honour of wearing your nation's colours. Don't you get blurry eyed when it rings out before the start of a match and you put your hand on your heart and you sing along, the vigour overwhelming the tune-lessness of your limited talent. And what greater sensation than having your country's flag go up at a sports meet for you and only you and you know the years of effort have paid off. I don't think I have ever kept the tinder dry when I have watched an Olympic presentation ceremony.

That's where you play the National Anthem. When a comrade has fallen, when a soldier has laid down his life, when the ultimate sacrifice has been made and their valiance echoes with the volley of the gun salute, that is when your anthem makes sense. Not for watching Mersal and Secret Superstar and Golmaal.

It is truly fitting at the Republic day and Independence day, when we greet a visiting leader, in schools on their annual day because the occasion calls for it.

Not in theatres and clubs and movie halls, where it cheapened by its presence.

What I do not understand then is why the government needs four months to study the case. There is nothing to study, sweets. It did not take a day to implement it. Just tell the Home Minister to rescind the order because there could be nothing stupider than to have the apex court underscoring the foolishness of anthems in movie halls and then the anthem still playing.

That is a licence for disrespect.

I will sprawl and slurp my cold drink and munch wafers as it rings out because the law is on my side

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Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 13:54:12 IST

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