Sanjay Dalmia: India needs no moral policing on National Anthem

Sanjay Dalmia, renowned industrialist and philanthropist, believes that respecting the national anthem is one thing, but imposing it on people is another.

Whether the national anthem should be played inside cinema halls or not has been a hot topic for debates during last few months. Sanjay Dalmia, renowned industrialist and philanthropist, believes that respecting the national anthem is one thing, but imposing it on people is another.

According to Mr Dalmia, a nationalist at heart, Indians need no moral policing for respecting the national anthem, since their love for the country and the anthem is innate and needs no proof. In his statement, he also said that no Indian would ever refuse to respect the national anthem, but playing it inside cinema halls was a completely illogical step.

Sanjay Dalmia’s statement came in the wake of the Supreme Court’s judgment, which was released a few days ago. In its order, the apex court has modified its earlier order by making the playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies optional.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on the playing of national anthem in the cinemas. The Centre’s decision had come after the top court had in October last year observed that the people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is “less patriotic”.

Also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, the bench said that the committee should delve into all the aspects relating to the playing of national anthem and allowed the petitioners to make representations before the panel.

Moreover, the Court has accepted the government’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that the committee will submit its report within six months.

The Chairman of Sanjay Dalmia Group has applauded the top court’s decision. According to him, people need entertainment and that’s the only reason they visit cinema halls. Patriotism is not something the government can force upon people. “No court order can ever inculcate the feeling of patriotism in people. Being a patriot is about desirability, not about making it mandatory,” he said.

Love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag. However, the order passed by the Court on November 30, 2016 passed a slew of directions, without taking into account the choice of people.

The order thus passed was met with great hue and cry by both – the politicians as well as the common people. While some believed playing national anthem before the screening of a film was a good step, most people disagreed about the mandate doing any good. Some even went on to say that the Court was robbing people of their fundamental rights by issuing such orders.

However, the latest order issued by the court is being welcomed by many. According to industrialist and philanthropist Sanjay Dalmia, people cannot portray their love for the motherland all the time. Cinema halls are meant for entertainment, and it would be wrong to impose such regulations on places of entertainment.

To prove their patriotism, people don’t need to stand up every time they visit a cinema hall to watch a film. Time is changing, and so is our country. What we need today is not a set of stringent rules that ‘ensure everyone is a patriot’.

In the opinion of Mr Sanjay Dalmia, today’s India needs better policies for the overall development of the country. Once people see their country growing and moving forward in a better direction, their love and respect for it would increase without any orders from the Supreme Court.

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