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Tuesday, 31 October 2017 04:03
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Will a ‘day’, as in the US, make us more patriotic or is playing the national anthem or installing a tank/statue better?


There is no getting around it now: India has a patriotism problem, and it appears to be spreading across all age groups. The rendering of the national anthem, actor and FTII chairman Anupam Kher, has just reminded us, takes all of 52 seconds, but we’re reluctant to stand for even this long in a cinema hall, though we spend much more waiting to buy tickets or to be seated at a restaurant. Perhaps why, the vice chancellor at JNU wanted a tank installed in the campus, to remind all students of the sacrifices made by our armed forces. It turns out JNU isn’t alone in wanting to instil a patriotic fervour via the tank route. There were three such demands in FY15, this rose to 7 the next year and to 31 in FY17—in the first half of FY18, the number was also 31; schools, colleges, universities and even NGOs, everyone wants to go the tank route to instil patriotism.

According to Hindustan Times, the Rajasthan government feels tanks are not the solution, but a statue of an ‘inspirational personality’ like Swami Vivekananda in universities will work better. While this will lead to the inevitable ‘secular’ vs ‘communal’ debate on symbols, will having a ‘day’ like the US does help? Massachusetts and Wisconsin celebrate Patriots’ Day and Maine celebrates Patriot’s Day (the apostrophe distinguishes them) while, post-911, the US government observes Patriot Day (no apostrophe) on September 11.

While it is not clear if a ‘day’ works better than the 24×7 reminders that statues/tanks offer, the last word could well be that of the SC. While the original order to play the national anthem in cinema halls came from the SC in November last year, while reviewing this, one judge in the new bench has questioned the need to “wear our patriotism on our sleeve”. The judge has said that Parliament should legislate on playing the national anthem in cinemas if that is what it wants—it is not clear, though, if this will be subject to judicial review.



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