Our National Anthem has been in the headlines since the last couple of days. We Indians are not on the same grid on whether to stand, sit or lie down when it is played. We are also not sure as to when it should be played and where. We are also not clear what all occasions are solemn and what all occasions are not appropriate for it to be played. We all actually want to just talk about our rising goose bumps when we hear it and the patriotic kind of feelings it injects into us. We all are ready to give a lecture to one and all how to show respect to the anthem and flag but are unwilling to leave our pop corns for the fear of them spilling over. It is 180 bucks after all. We basically do not want to stand up once we have sat down in the cinema hall due to lethargy. That is the problem.
While watching TV and flicking channels, say, we land up on the opening moments of a hockey match. We may not understand the meaning or even the tune of the national anthem of another country but we will like to follow the lip sync of their players to try and understand what is being sung. We all will appreciate the way those ten odd spectators of the other country carrying their country’s flag with their hands across their hearts. On the other hand we will keep fidgeting for at least one stanza to stand up for “jana gana mana”. In case the camera focuses on us during the process, then to hell with my patriotism. I will wave all my hands and jump on my feet so that in case even my bai watching the match on TV will recognise me. Another reason for doing so is that the cameraman may not focus at me again unless there is a good looking girl sitting there.
Well, in the forces we do the “Rashtriya Salute” on various occasions, no one has to tell us to stand up. If the “Nishan Toli” is trooping the National Flag all of us in uniform salute. The salute is not given sitting down but standing in “Savdhan”(Attention). Yes, all those who are battle causalities and are on wheel chairs are the only people who are allowed to salute sitting down and they too pull their arms to their sides before saluting. There is another exception when your right hand is bandaged, immobilised or amputated; the person salutes with his left hand but salute he will. After all, the tricolour is being unfurled or being paraded and the “Rashtriya Gaan” are being played. That is the importance we as soldiers give to our national flag and the National Anthem. We fight for this flag, we die for this flag and we come draped in this flag. This was taught to us, drilled into us and now it imbibes in our blood as second nature. We don’t need debates whether to stand or sit, we know what to do.
Another thing is, moving around when the anthem is played. Why can’t people just stand straight? What is so urgent in that Whatsapp message? Why does some part of the body feel itchy at that precise moment? Can’t the description of the dress of the lady in front of you wait? Wait for the anthem to be over to discuss all that is under the sun after those fifty two seconds yaar? If you spot your old neighbour in the stadium, why you can’t hold waving to him? Hold your horses friends, join your heels, pull your arms to your sides, stand rock solid, don’t fidget or move, leave that itch for a moment, leave your pant stuck at the wrong place for less than a minute, concentrate on the anthem, sing along and there after you cheer and jeer for any team, is my view.
As a child I remember, the national anthem used to be played in cinemas at the end of the movie. All of us used to stand. Slowly, as time passed by, everyone used to be in a hurry to get to the cycle stand to locate ones bicycle and rush back home. People who had to catch buses after the show did not even wait for the movie to finish. The cinema owners stopped opening the exit gates initially but pressure of the people to break their doors left them with no option but to open up moment the final acknowledgements use to roll. We were impatient then and we are super impatient now.
Well folks, when it comes to India we will tolerate no nonsense from anyone, isn’t it? If I tell people that the symbol of your nationalism the National Anthem and flag is being disrespected due to our own despicable behaviour and nonsense, would anyone agree? I am no one to tell anyone to stand or sit and I cannot question the courts either but if people cannot understand how to respect our national symbols then God only save us. If for this also courts have to intervene then why do we call ourselves Indians in the first place? I wonder!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis