Forced Patriotism v. Freedom of expression
Author: Krati Bhardwaj
College:New Law College, BVDU
Freedom of expression and patriotism feels like two branches of the same tree i.e. human mind. But they are not. The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi ruled out Muslims giving them their own nation, providing them the patriotism for the nation they feel for as a part of their freedom. His entire legacy was on patriotism for his country and with it, freedom of expression. Patriotism is that little wing of the branch that is FOE. Man has always linked his fundamental rights as a valuable asset and has always guarded this privilege. The free expression of thoughts and feelings is a standout amongst the most valuable privileges of man. We are entitled to free speech and expression, which is not a blessing but our right. We are a part of secular country; still we are forced to stand for the national anthem at a movie theatre, what we can see, what we can wear, or whom we can marry. If we try to unfold some of the unquestioned norms laid down in the name of law, we are said to be deviating from normal rules and regulations of the society or being anti-nationalist.
Lately, our minds are flinching from the thought of forced patriotism. How essential is it to show one's regard towards national symbols, not voluntarily, but due to external enforcement by the authorities.
For instance, the recent verdict, which was passed by Madras high court, imposed an obligation on school, government and private offices for the singing of singing of Vande Mataram caused dismay among a few sections of the general public. Similarly, when the JNU Vice- Chancellor requested that Union minister to enable the college in securing an army tank, which can be set up as a display in the campus, with the goal to remind the students of the sacrifices and valor of the soldiers. This caused resentment among the promoters of liberal esteems.
Patriotism without radicalism is not a boon but just a bird without wings. We are repeatedly asked to respect the symbol of our country, then why that symbol cannot be the citizen of that nation who have their views on expressing their love towards the nation. National anthem is a declaration of one's love for the nation. Although the meaning of patriotism may vary from person to person. Patriotism is a love for one's own country. This implies enhancing our nation, shielding it from the powers of malice. It should be humanistic with no ill will or narrow-minded thought processes. It is a positive feeling and is exemplified in the mind by the tune of the national anthem.Nowadays, when we are dissented with the things happening in our nations or within our government. Amidst of all this, it’s the national anthem which instills the sense of oneness and makes us feel patriotic.
“An incident in October 2016 in which a disability campaigner, Salil Chaturvedi who was a respected and an honor winning writer who was suffering from the problem of spinal damage was was purportedly attacked at a multiplex in Panaji, Goa when he didn't stand up while the national anthem was playing in the theatre.”
In Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India held that “before the commencement of the film all the cinema hall in India shall play the national anthem and everyone present in the hall are obliged to rise up and demonstrate regard to the national anthem as a part of “sacred obligation”. These orders were issued for affection and regard for the country is regarded when one shows regard to national anthem and national flag .Finding patriotism in playing the national song at cinema hall is strange for many reasons. How does the playing of national anthem in cinema halls make sense? If this were to instill the feeling of patriotism, then why restrict only to movie theatre, why not play it in a metro, malls, office, and restaurants or whenever some news about nation is telecasted. Why a person is not forced to show his patriotism when he spits on the walls of the monument or when he writes on them. They are the symbol of splendour of the bygone era. They link us to the victorious past that we hold today with great pride. Many great stories are connected with those heritages. Some of them even mark the stories of the beginning of our freedom struggle. Then, why there aren't any strict laws regarding the punishment for those who create such nuisance i.e. spitting or writing on the monuments, or creating awareness concerning the threat to the monuments. The preservation of this glorious past in the form of heritage buildings and monuments is very important, as they are the symbol of wealth and power of our nation.
Forced patriotism is killing the feeling of patriotism that once came without being forced for. Patriotism is a feeling that originates from inside, not something that can be imposed by government. Without the feeling of patriotism, the pledge, anthem or national song is just a song without rhythm.
While the Supreme Court may be indulged in other matters, it will be of great importance for the general public to note that the Supreme Court in 1986 held that no one can be compelled to sing the national anthem and it is not obligatory to do so. The movie “Kabhi khushi kabhi gham” was stopped from being screened in any theatre unless the national anthem was removed from the movie. What an irony it is, that you cannot play national anthem in a movie but you are obliged to stand for the national anthem when it is played before the movie starts. It is uncertain what the court implies when it uses the word “constitutional patriotism” in its order. In constitutional theory and philosophy, it refers to the set of ideas where the individual stick to the constitution and its standards, as opposed to limit ethnic, racial, territorial or semantic characters.
Enforced patriotism is not only to country like India but other nations have also witnessed many events.
The Michigan Senate passed a bill guiding each school board to “guarantee that each child in all the public schools recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag of United States each day in the school. While in a recent incident in Puerto Rico, a pro football player who kneeled during the national anthem was fired by the president alleging that he disrespected the national flag. It's the infringement of fundamental rights to propel somebody to participate in patriotic ritual.
Forcing of anything in a free country like India is not a sign of a liberal country and that too forcing of patriotism is not at all acceptable. Making the citizens of a nation to do anything forcibly in the name of patriotism loses its spirit in true sense. It doesn't come from shouting the slogans or national song. It is something that comes from within, it cannot be shammed. If the feeling were to be inculcated forcibly then why do we still have discrimination within a nation. Nation is a big word to be used here, we have differences within a state, city, and district. There are many issues like poverty, gender based violence, communal disharmony, internal terrorism which require the concern of the authorities. In the unfair game of politics, it's the innocents who are always stuck in between. It has always been a trend to mingle religion with the politics. There are many unfair practices done in the name of religion. Where does our patriotism goes when the people from northeast are abused, harassed or killed. If we start questioning then there are many unsolved mysteries that are yet to be revealed.
Respecting the autonomy of the individual, our government proved that it is still a democratic country where we have “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This is something that will not perish with the flow of time. In a recent judgment passed by Supreme Court, it was held that it is not mandatory to stand up for the national anthem in a cinema hall. People go to the cinema hall for recreational purpose and playing of national anthem does not foster the spirit of patriotism.
Writing in Young India in 1922, Gandhi said, “We must first make good the right of free speech and free association before we make any further progress towards our goal. We must defend these elementary rights with our lives”. Mahatma Gandhi might have fought for his country with all his patriotism, but he did it all for his freedom of expressions. Forced patriotism on the other hand was Hitler’s rule. Patriotism is a responsibility and forced patriotism feels more like an obligation. Responsibility always comes with a choice and is a more respected emotion. While obligation on the other hand is a decorated form of burden.
While the discussion on the topic are endless. Conclusion can be made by mentioning that; patriotism is the legacy our forefathers left us with, we oblige to it, by passing to the next generation. How they act upon it, is their freedom of expression. And with everything that's been taught to us, we can only guide a person how to make things better, the choices are always his/hers.
 Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India: AIR 2003 MP 233.
 Justice(Retd) Ajit Prakash Shah, Free Speech, Nationalism and Sedition, Volume I, Issue I, Page no. 58
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