Of divergent interests

The Supreme Court has modified its earlier judgement concerning the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls. It is now no longer mandatory for cinema halls to play the anthem before the screening of films. Also, an inter-ministerial committee has been entrusted with framing guidelines on all aspects pertaining to the matter and will submit a report within six months. The SC ruling, one of the several reversions the apex court has made in recent times, is appropriate. It spares the national anthem from ‘forced respect’ and in cases even disrespect. The feeling of pride in one’s nation comes chiefly from the successes the nation has achieved through efforts as a single unit. There are few such successes that are able to inspire faith in the nation as a cohesive unit today as we are a nation with increasingly divergent outlooks. Even the national anthem has become a subject of dispute. There are sections of people who question its verses today. They claim the anthem is a paean for the colonial masters and has nothing to say about India itself. Their statements may have some justification but are beside the point. The waning of nationalistic fervour has become evident over the years since Independence. The only point where the country appears to show some signs of unity is when it comes to bashing Pakistan. If the northwestern neighbour, and now increasingly China, could be removed from the scene, we probably would appear to be lost for causes that can keep our patriotic passions alive. The vehemence in which ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or even the simple Jai Hind is being screamed demonstrates that there is very little love for the country but more of proving a socio-political point of a certain rabid group that wants to fill in the gap created by decades of ignoring social needs and requirements. The primary reason behind the lack of this fervour is perhaps the way in which the country achieved Independence: by passive resistance. This almost fatalistic approach that drove the colonial masters away has evolved with time and settled into the nation’s psyche in the form of inertia that prevents change. Now every sign of authority is seen as an object of resistance and that has slowed down change, even for the better, to a snail’s pace. And despite unhappiness with the situation, little is being done to change. There is no mass upsurge in favour of change barring a few instances. And even the system has found means to revert to its old ways after showing some signs of change. The case of the Make in India campaign of the incumbent government points to how inertia is getting back into control. The scrapping of the proposal to make minesweeper vessels indigenously, which the defence ministry had directed the Goa Shipyard to initiate afresh after ending protracted commercial negotiations with South Korean shipyard Kangnam, is a case in point. The government now appears intent on procuring mine counter-measure vessels, or MCMVs, instead of building them in India. While the government can go in for purchases to meet the immediate requirement, it will not be in the long-term interests of the nation. India’s increasing dependence on the United States and its allies will only push it further down the path of indebtedness, even as it goes about blaming the Chinese, on one hand, of trying to achieve regional domination by extending credit and on the other, all the former governments for doing nothing. The country has indeed developed to whatever level it has at present because of the past politically controlled yet democratically elected governments. To always blame the past, especially in a democracy, is nothing short of blaming the average voter for all the mistakes ever committed. The fact that the government is unable to impose faith in its own resources, be it material or otherwise, and come to terms with the present, is an indicator of the near absence of nationalistic interests and cohesive forces. It appears the situation is set to remain so for years to come, and expecting change would be inconsequential.

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