Today, on the 69th Army Day -15 January 2017, my country salutes the comrades in arms who have always been ready to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty. To think of it, it must not be very easy to selflessly commit oneself for the safety of others; to relentlessly vigil the challenging frontiers across some of the most perilous terrain in the world or to come rushing to help during natural calamities. Besides great bravery, sacrifice and passion to lay down one’s life for a cause, it must be needing great love for the nation.
A whisper here reminds me of the story of Chittagong of the early twentieth century where a large number of teenage boys were led into a revolutionary movement by their school master Surya Sen, to revolt against the British. What a passion they had! Can those today, who are arguing whether to sit or stand during the national anthem understand such intense enthusiasm? On the one side, we have those who daringly commit themselves to achieve the highest level of security consciousness so that the people of our country can move about their daily life in peace, and on the other, we sadly have some who seem violently vexed about issues regarding the standing or the sitting when the national anthem is being played. Could somebody tell them that respect is inborn and cannot be forced? My country it appears is getting divided into hyper and lethargic nationalists. The Supreme Court order regarding the national anthem to be played in cinemas has been inviting two extremist opinions. What I feel is that though the court assumed that the anthem would instill greater pride in the nationals for their nation, it overlooked the fact that a majority of the nationals today have been born in a free land and therefore have no real idea of the pains of bondage.
Honestly, it isn’t surprising to see the political stuntmen then disguised in robes of love for the nation, fearlessly crossing limits of domination. They are the self-styled patriots who can unflinchingly attack the young, the careless, the unaware or the modernists who refuse to stand up for the anthem. Can you blame a child who swims in the ocean of corruption with political sharks all around him and only a few honest anchors of help of great leaders from his text books, to have respect for his nation? Couldn’t they for a moment give a thought for reasons of such behaviour? Couldn’t it be possible that these are the people who have not been brought up on stories of freedom fighters but feed on dramas of corrupt politicians? Couldn’t it be that they have no real time idea of what living in their own land but being ruled by another would be like? Couldn’t it just be as simple as someone who was on a wheelchair was standing up emotionally though his legs didn’t permit him to do so physically?
As instances of reckless students getting thrashed in Chennai, or a disabled man getting abused in Goa come to light, it is probable that the joy of going to cinema halls will soon get transformed into fear of the wrath of vigilantes. Then, instead of instilling love and pride for the nation, the playing of the anthem will be likely to promote riot like situations in the country where then, the police will have to be present to stop violence arising out of a strange couch potato kind of love for the country.
Bedabrata Pain’s film ‘Chittagong’ is a worth watch today. Though some would argue that the school master Surya Sen did wrong in making revolutionaries out of teenagers to raid an armory of the police and destroy the telegraph and railways in order to isolate Chittagong from the rest of the British India, wasn’t it better than today’s teenagers becoming rapists, molesters and rioters. The film is about the rise of passion for the nation in a thirteen year old Subodh Roy popularly known as Jhunku who passed away in the year 2006; but I wonder what his thoughts on the anthem controversy would have been if he were to be alive today. This is a tale that all those who are unable to decide whether to sit or stand during the playing of the national anthem, must watch.
If we believe that patriotism is a sentiment latently present in every true Indian’s heart, we would never have faced a question of arousing patriotic sentiments. Reality though, shows a different picture. A majority of cinema goers today are in a rush to leave the theatre if the anthem is shown after the film and if it is played before the screening, they probably prefer to buy popcorns. We have reached a stage where we as a country need advertising skills to draw the attention and respect of our common country men and women towards our national anthem. Don’t you remember the silent national anthem by the children of India and the one sung by transgenders?
What a pity! A country which once upon a time had to fight for freedom from a foreign rule and later got partitioned in caste hatred is today after 69 years of independence, at the risk of forgetting the real joy of being independent and instead is wasting its time in thinking whether to stand or sit.
What a pity! The school teacher Surya Sen, who got captured by the British in 1933 had to suffer tortures where his teeth were broken using a hammer, his nails plucked out, his limbs broken and then was dragged unconscious to the rope; and all that for useless arguments of the correctness of standing or sitting for the anthem.
What a pity! We, who got freedom on a platter have willingly suspended the belief in the awesomeness of the sacrifices of our freedom angels and are shamelessly indecisive about something as simple as standing in respect to the national anthem in memory of those who cared enough to lay their lives for our independence.
What a pity! That our leaders have not been able to instill love for the nation in our youth and instead prefer force of discipline.
What a pity! How forgetful have we become of those glorious sacrifices of lives for our nation and instead are so immersed in the present dislike of corrupt politicians that we are missing out on the woods of overwhelming splendour because we are busy counting individual trees of inappropriate leadership.
What a pity! The extraordinary glory of the past which needs a standing ovation, has its ordinary citizens today sitting complacently unconcerned.
(pics courtesy: Google)