Do as I say, not as I do, seems to be the diktat from policymakers in India today. So you and I have to stand for the national anthem in theatres. But it will not be played every day before proceedings commence in Government institutions or even the Court that brought in the practice.
While the best judicial minds can argue this out within the framework of India’s Constitution, the average person on the street is confused with this dichotomy. It’s like a parent admonishing his child for being addicted to her phone, while the parent continues to be obsessed with the gadget!
A similar tendency is seen with the crackdown on black money. While the average citizen is asked to root out this unacceptable practice, political parties shy away from making political donations a transparent process that reveals who paid money to whom.
Even more disturbing here are the vigilantes who emerge from the woodwork claiming to protect the flag and country. Lawyers argue that you can stand up and still be disrespectful of the anthem, just as you can be seated and not be disrespectful.
No right thinking citizen would argue with standing up for what is right for a country and its people. But that pride is not manifested in tokenism that equates standing in a queue at the ATM or in a theatre (a place of entertainment that may be showing a B-grade film!) with a soldier’s duty in hostile terrain.
Pride comes from paying your taxes, not giving or taking a bribe, not breaking traffic rules, being considerate to fellow human beings and creating a compassionate society that respects the environment and animal life that inhabits it.
But if people think nothing of being bad citizens and seek to absolve themselves by standing up for the national anthem, with all due respect, that does no good for the country.