India Uncut

This blog has moved to its own domain. Please visit for the all-new India Uncut and bookmark it. The new site has much more content and some new sections, and you can read about them here and here. You can subscribe to full RSS feeds of all the sections from here. This blogspot site will no longer be updated, except in case of emergencies, if the main site suffers a prolonged outage. Thanks - Amit.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What's more important, the national anthem or freedom?

In Mumbai, as most of you would know, it's mandatory for cinema theatres to play the national anthem before a film, and it's compulsary, at those times, for the audience to stand. Well, I don't. I don't have anything against the anthem, but I do have something against coercion, which I believe is more against the spirit of a democracy than respecting nationalistic symbols.

To me, India's freedom is pointless if every single citizen in the country doesn't enjoy individual freedoms as well. The freedom to stand and sit when we want to is among those, as long as we don't get in anyone's way. (Standing during a film, for example, would be wrong if I obstructed the view of those behind me, or farted particularly badly. But not sitting during the anthem.)

There was a similar fuss over Vande Mataram recently, which I mentioned here and here (scroll down on the latter page). I wonder what manner of insecurity makes us take such symbols so seriously. So seriously, in fact, that Vikram Chauhan, a Mumbai blogger, was "assaulted, abused, evicted" from a theatre in Mumbai for sitting while the anthem played. (Link via Annie.)

The thugs who kicked Vikram out were similar, in my mind, to the people who evicted an Indian lawyer out of a train in Pietermaritzburg more than 100 years ago. In both cases, there was an assault on freedom. Of course, that incident turned out to be a seminal one, while ones such as this happen regularly, all the time, and we just complain a bit and forget about it. Don't we need a freedom struggle as well?

A couple of old posts regarding the national anthem: 1, 2.
amit varma, 4:40 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

I recommend: