If India were to be a person, who is he? Or is it a she?
Is it a Hindu? Or a Muslim? Or a Sikh? Or a Christian?
Is it black? Or is white?
To my mind, none of these questions have an emphatic YES answer. I am happy that it doesn’t. There are many Indians like me who would not answer any of these questions with a YES. Unfortunately, I think there are many who would want to answer YES to one of these questions.
I live in Gurgaon, which is one of the metropolitan cities of India. I have friends who belong to different religions, castes, cultures. I have never cared if my friends are Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or whatever their religious beliefs may be. I am not a Congress or a BJP or an AAP supporter. I will support a political party which feeds into my idea of the kind of country I want to live in.
I am not a compulsive nationalist. Let me explain what that means. A compulsive nationalist is someone who pushes nationalism into everything-work, cinema, society-everything. I am proud of being an Indian.
Who is an Indian?
An Indian is a man or a woman who belongs to India, the nation.
What is India-the nation?
A pluralistic, multi-cultural society where people are free to be who they are. A society which doesn’t discriminate people on the basis of their religious or cultural beliefs. A society which doesn’t impose nationalism down people’s throats. A society where people are free to choose their own definitions and their own ways of respecting the country.
Unfortunately, that’s not the direction we are going toward. We have become, in the last few months, a nation of compulsive nationalists who are forcing their brand of nationalism down the throat of other people who may have divergent views. Yesterday, the honorable Supreme Court passed a ruling which makes playing the national anthem mandatory before movie screenings. It is mandatory.
Now, how does this amount to personal freedom? I go to a movie hall to watch a movie and to entertain myself. My mood is relaxed and I am about to get entertained, if the movie is good. If the movie is bad, I may get disappointed. How does nationalism come into the picture? By standing for the national anthem, who am I proving my nationalism to?
Frankly, I am not sure. When I was a child, in the school assembly, we would stand-up and sing the national anthem. I love our national anthem. It gives me Goosebumps when I sing it with my heart and I sing it when I want to sing it. I may sing it in solitude. I may sing it at an occasion to commemorate the greatness of our country. But, why do I need to sing the national anthem in a cinema hall? I am not sure.
Whose will is being imposed on me? That’s not the point. The point is somebody’s definition of nationalism is being imposed on me. I am sorry, I don’t agree. Now, I do not want to get arrested. So, if the law stipulates that, I will stand up when I go to watch a movie. But, I disagree.
There is no reason why the will of the majority, no matter what the majority believes in, should be forced upon EVERYONE in the country. We are all different people and we express ourselves differently. Allow us our ways of self-expression. We are proud of living here because we are free. It is a free country. Let’s not choke a section of society just because the majority wants something imposed. People want things imposed are called authoritative. This is a democracy.
I am sorry. I don’t agree.