‘The Debate Over India’s National Anthem is Deplorable’ by DPS Pro Vice Chairman Rajesh Srivastava

A few days ago, the Supreme Court decided to reignite the debate over our National Anthem – a debate that was not only avoidable, but was also absolutely deplorable and disgraceful in its essence. Before I highlight precisely why such a debate is completely unnecessary and reeks of the stench of a hidden political agenda, let’s summarize exactly what led to the reigniting of this debate in the first place. Around a year ago, the Supreme Court had admitted a public interest litigation on the National Anthem and had asked for the views of the Central Government. A month later, in response to the PIL, the court issued a directive that made it mandatory to play the National Anthem in all movie halls before the screening of a film. To quote the judgment of the Supreme Court when it had passed that particular directive, “a time has come that the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality.”

Now making things a bit complicated is the fact that the Supreme Court decided to revisit its ordinance from last year and questioned the legality of its own judgement. But what was merely a proposition by the Supreme Court to the Central Government (wherein it passed the buck to the latter) has been music to the ears of liberal sections of the media, so much so that they are actually behaving in manner that would make you think that the Supreme Court has passed a sentence making it optional to stand up for the anthem.

I find this entire debate to be incredibly manufactured and duplicitous. When it comes to standing in long queues to buy a movie ticket for the latest commercial entertainer, no one bats an eye. When it comes to standing in long queues outside busy restaurants and bustling pubs, sometimes for as long as thirty minutes, no one bats an eye. When it comes to standing in line at shopping counters of fancy apparel outlets, no one bats an eye. So why is it that, when it comes to standing up for our National Anthem for a mere two minutes, sections of the liberal media start raising a huge hue and cry? Why the hypocrisy? Even if I can see some merit in the questioning of the National Anthem being played in cinema halls, there should be NO debate vis-à-vis standing up for the anthem. Disrespecting the National Anthem can simply not be up for debate.

This year marked the 70th year of India’s independence. All of us, irrespective of our gender, caste or religion, are able to enjoy the freedom we are accorded solely because of our independence. And had it not been for the struggles of the countless freedom fighters who were at the forefront of the fight for our independence, we’d still be finding ourselves being treated like second classes citizens under the British Raj. Needless to say, the National Anthem is not only symbolic of that very struggle of our independence, but is also a stark reminder of all the sacrifices our freedom fighters made all those years ago. As such, not wanting to stand up for the anthem is akin to blatantly disrespecting the memories of our freedom fighters and undermining the struggle they went through to give us our independence, the same independence that our younger generations continue to take for granted.

Looking at the timing of this debate, one can’t help but wonder if a sinister political agenda is at play here. With state elections in two states just round the corner, a debate on the national anthem that is simply unnecessary can only be beneficial for political reasons – something that is sadly achieved when the country’s own national anthem is used to communalize elections. As such, one needs to look at this debate with even more disdain and contempt than they were before.

In closing, I’d just like you all to think about our freedom struggle and all of the sacrifices our freedom fighters made to get us our independence. I’d like you to think about all of our soldiers who’ve either sacrificed their lives on our borders or continue to patrol them without giving a single thought to their own safety. To disrespect the anthem is to disrespect our freedom fighters and our soldiers, and that should be a deal breaker that closes any ‘debate’ before it even begins.

by

Shri. Rajesh Srivastava

Pro Vice Chairman,

DPS Bhagalpur and DPS Greater Ranchi

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