Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Closet Patriot

I'll say it out loud - I really don't like standing for the national anthem sometimes. The entire thing is in a dialect I only half-understand, and even the parts that I do understand, they sound rather hollow at times. Then there's the entire business of realism and objectivity - the national anthem is a paean to our great nation and, let's admit it, we don't always feel the love. I, atleast, don't.

There are times when I want to protest, when I want to make a statement and times when I simply find the entire process of mechanically standing up to the national anthem and the accentuated action of saluting the national flag boisterous and showman-ly. It's not the way I want to pay respect to my nation.

But, ironically, that's exactly what I'm not only supposed to do, but also compelled to do (by law).

True respect can never be forced, or so I think. Only when you have people standing up for the national anthem and saluting the national flag, when they could have been doing anything else at the time, do you and those people themselves feel the genuineness of their respect and pride.

There should be nothing wrong with flag-burning or wearing the three colours on your person. Or the point of the tricolour standing for freedom (of speech and expression, amongst other things) becomes somewhat moot.


  1. You know this is something exactly what our economics professor expressed in our class the other day. We don't understand the anthem fully but we stand up to pay respect! For what and to whom? And it's a fact that the anthem is not for india but it's for George the fifth :|

    It's kinda sad :(

  2. It's also a fair bit of deconditioning to the anthem and the idea of patriotism which should come from within. I usually go to Fame cinemas to watch movies. Before every movie, they play A. R. Rehman's version of the anthem. I liked it initially because most of my favourite singers sang lines in it. Slowly, I started hating it for having heard it so many times and at as inappropriate a place as the cinemas where I'm with friends and certainly not in a patriotic mood.

  3. When you speak of respect being earned, and not forced, I agree. But there is the point of symbolic interactionism, with symbols meaning a lot more than what meets the eye. A flag ceases to be a piece of cloth but a symbol of a whole lot that went behind establishing it as a whole, a representative of what the nation stands for. How tweaked is the idea of really standing for and practising what it means will forever remain ambivalent. And isn't law nothing but a peace making company between freewill and anarchy?
    What matters is how you feel about the country and why you feel it. Symbols, these flags and songs only take you so far.

  4. Amen to what Cinnamon said, it's very well put.
    Also, at the risk of sounding cliched, you might not want to rise for the National Anthem because you don't feel respect for the country - okay. But what are YOU doing to change the system? What are YOU doing on your part so that others don't feel jaded like you?

  5. Exactly, MB. The other day, in a social psych class, we were screening some advertisements for analysis. There was this particular one, conveying how we should stand up for the national anthem, showing an old man with an amputated leg standing up in the end, and then a voiceover by Amitabh Bachchan, asking to respect the anthem. So when the anthem played in the ad, a few of us stood up, and a similar debate ensued. We analysed this as conformity to authority, group behavior, conditioning. Our lecturer, herself, didn't get up and she said for her it was a matter of convenience, e.g. she said she found it uncomfortable to stand up everytime Big cinemas start screening a movie. Then she asked each one of the people who stood up, why they stood up. One classmate said, 'I don't do anything for the country as such, this is the least I can do and the most I do. So I find it derogatory when people similar to me don't even stand up, showing the littlest sign of respect they can.'
    It's exactly about what you are doing, how and where you do it, is all secondary.

  6. @cinnamon Nicely put......here is how I would put it.
    Consider National Anthem being played as your country ADVERTISING to you at the best possible time ( i.e just before a movie). Come on, if you don't mind to go though hassles of ticket booking, traffic, waiting for your friends/family to dress up then I think you might as well spend just two minutes of your personal time for the country. And regarding not having patriotic feelings, well you can always fake it till you make it. Or spend more time reading about what our Freedom movement

    Regarding flag-burning : I strongly object to such demonstrations. Today they are coming after your SYMBOLS, naming their missiles after the looters of this subcontinent ( Ghauri and Ghazni missiles of Pak), tomorrow they might as well attack the Parliament. Oops they already did that.

    Here is an simple link to prove to you why SYMBOLS matter.

  7. I agree with Cinnamon..
    As in, no one is forcing but don't you feel like standing up? Respecting?
    We have learned about freedom struggle and stuff in History and History is Boring but...Cant you atleast do this much for the people who have sacrificed their lives and everything...?

    True, you cant force it...its one thing that should come from within!

    P.s - I agree with Ana too...The anthem being for George, the fifth, thats the sad part. (If its true)