With increasing reports of people being arrested for not standing for the national anthem, it’s a good idea to remember why they stopped the practice of playing the thing in cinema halls in the first place – nationalism cannot be coercively produced in people’s breasts through such inane, superficial and empty gestures.
And the converse – just because you dont stand up for the national anthem, it doesn’t make you anti-Indian. You may just have another idea of India, or you may show your concern for “India” by some more concrete gesture, or through your politics.
As Anmol Karnik asks:
If we play the national anthem before a television show begins at home, would people stand up? I doubt it. Most people who do it, do it because it’s not socially acceptable to sit down when everyone else is standing. It’s being part of the herd, so there’s probably some part of unity embedded in it, but unity in a forceful and degrading manner.
Just as a matter of interest, this is what the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 says:
Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
There is thus, no legal obligation whatsoever to actually stand while Jana Gana Mana plays. Continue reading Why should we stand for the national anthem?