The Supreme Court of India came up with a ruling in November 2016 that all cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts.
Everyone present in the movie hall has to stand to show respect towards the national anthem. The screen at the movie hall, the court declared, must show the image of the national flag, while the national anthem is being played.
More than six months have passed since this incongruous judgement became law. States with the BJP (Prime Minister Modi's party) in power, have been indulging in this gimmick for the last several years. BJP administered provinces instructed movie theatres to screen a video of the national anthem prior to the commencement of the film, long before this absurd judgment was enacted.
It's ludicrous to test the patriotism of a person, who goes to the cinema. This is an illogical decision lacking rationality. People go to a movie hall for unwinding and relaxing by watching a film. There is no relevance of playing the national anthem in such a location.
This is a drama being enacted in the name of patriotism. There are persons, who evade taxes, violate all civil/criminal laws and take bribes. Do such individuals become patriotic just by standing up in a movie hall during the playing of the national anthem?
The feeling of Patriotism comes naturally, it cannot be enforced. The moment there is an element of coercion, the spirit of the act is being snatched away and is replaced by a meaningless ritual. This is a classic case of symbolism being given undue importance.
The Supreme Court through this myopic judgment is emboldening bullies to take law into their own hands. Such 'self appointed patriotism experts' are needlessly confronting cinema-goers on this senseless issue.
There have been numerous incidents of handicapped individuals being physically assaulted and verbally abused for not standing up during the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls across India. People have been beaten up inside cinema halls for not complying with this unreasonable order. A recreational activity like going to a movie hall is turning out to be a nightmare for many.
At an international film festival held in Kerala province during December 2016, there were police personnel sitting inside the movie hall in plainclothes.Â They arrested 10-12 persons for this insignificant act of not standing up during the playing of the national anthem before the start of the film.
This is a sheer waste of government resources. Police personnel should be deployed to maintain law & order in society, to solve criminal cases, not for arresting people who don't stand up for the national anthem in a movie hall.
There is always a proper time and place for everything. National anthem should be played during important national days at official functions or during international sporting events, if an athlete/team from a country gets a podium finish. A cinema hall is not the place for playing the national anthem.
The author has been to cinema halls in The Netherlands, various other European countries and China but hasn't seen this needless exhibition of patriotism anywhere.
India's Supreme Court has approximately 60,745 cases pending as on 30th April 2017. These Supreme Court judges enjoy long summer & winter vacations unlike their counterparts working in other govt. departments.Â Supreme Court judges should focus on speedy resolution of pending cases rather than waste precious time in passing incoherent directives.
This unnecessary display of pseudo-patriotism in India is completely devoid of any logic and should be stopped immediately.