I go to drop my 4 year old daughter to school everyday. In her school, I have to cross 4 other Classes before i reach her class of nursery. This particular day we were late. I told Diaa that today you will miss out on the National Anthem, for sure. As we neared the first class, we could hear the faint sound of the anthem being sung. It became more clear at the next two steps and immediately Diaa told me, “Mumma wait. They are singing the National Anthem. We have to stand.” I told her, “you are late for your class. Lets go, you can sing it with your classmates.” She just gestured me with a finger on her lips with one hand and the fingers of the other hand spread out asking me to stand still. We stood there waiting for it to finish. Actually, i was waiting for it to finish, glancing at my watch every 10 seconds. She was singing along, in no hurry. I noticed one teacher and two more mothers standing with us. They must also be passing the corridor and then stood still when they heard the students singing it. It lasted for only a minute and i immediately grabbed her hand to take her to her own class. As we neared the second class, we could again hear a faint sound. The moment we were in front of that class door, i realised that its now this class which is starting to sing The Anthem. We both exchanged one glance and i knew that she wants to wait here also untill they have finished. She told me, “Now this class is also singing. We must stand here also.” I obliged. This time i was also singing along with her. I also happened to notice the students. They were all singing along with the teachers in attention pose. There were a few fumbles in the pronunciation of a few words but most of them could sing without missing out on a word completely. Only a few children, maybe two or three, standing behind, away from the eagle eyes of the teacher, were staring out the door or fidgetting with something in their hand but their lips were in total sync with the rest of the class. Here also, it took us just about a minute to finish the anthem and we again started our journey to her own class. I was already prepared to wait at another class and my walking-as-if-i-am-running steps had slowed down but at the third class, they were just about to finish singing it. It ended as soon as we reached there. Diaa looked at me with a smile and said,”its over here. Come fast, i am late.” At the fourth class, the children had all settled down and were removing books from their bags as per the teachers instructions. Diaa again told me, “mumma jaldi chalo.”
Finally we reached her own class. Her teacher looked at her and exclaimed, “Diaa!! Good morning!! You are a little late!! We just finished singing the National Anthem!! You missed it dear!!”
I looked at her, we both smiled and i thought to myself, did she miss it?? Really?? Naaahh!! Infact, she sang it twice that day!!
On my way out of the school, i was recalling the entire 5-7 minutes journey that i underwent with my daughter. I was amused and smiling to myself when i recalled her image of how she asked me to stand still and quiet just using the gestures of her tiny hands. As i exited the school, two things crossed my mind. The first one was about the supreme court ruling making it mandatory for all movie theatres to play the National Anthem before the screening of every movie show and a few guidelines that came along with it. They say that it will instill a sense of patriotism in the hearts of the citizens. My experience today somehow strengthened my belief that it may prove to be helpful. Sometimes, when we do somethings repeatedly, the action and reaction to it becomes our nature. Like for example, the moment i see a temple while travelling on the roads, i instantly bow my head low, close my eyes and say a silent prayer. And i have seen many people do that because its been instilled in our minds that you need to pay respect to God anywhere you see Him. I think a similar reaction can be expected if people are made to stand in the theatres for the National Anthem. But i also feel that just this much is not enough considering the fact that not all of india goes to watch movies. We need to encourage it since childhood if we really want them to undersand that the National Anthem deserves respect wherever it is played, even if noone is watching us. So, in my opinion, making it compulsory in all schools, colleges and other educational institutions may be a better option to help achieve the desired result.
The second one was about the other three people who were standing with us at the first class. What must have made them stand?? Was it really out of respect or was it because they saw us standing and thought they should stand too or they will be seen as disrespectful or unpatriotic. Would they have stood if Diaa and me were not standing there already?? Maybe yes, maybe no. Like how it happens at a traffic signal. One motorist jumps a red light and many others follow him. Similarly, on a deserted traffic signal where everyone is violating the red light, sometimes there is this one car,bike or activa( like me ) which stops behind the line, irrespective of there being a traffic policeman or not, irrespective of the scorching heat troubling my little one and making those 110 seconds seem never ending and looking at us many others follow suit. What happened in school today could be an extension of this syndrome. Diaa made me stand in respect for the National Anthem and looking at us, three others thought of doing the same. If the supreme court ruling changes the attitude of even a handful of citizens, its quite possible that their patriotism will rub on others when put in a similar situation.
All in all, i think the supreme court is only trying to make us more expressive about our love for our country. The ruling can cause no harm, we have nothing to lose by following it even if we dont stand to gain much.
P.S. In the movie Dangal, the National Anthem is played towards the end of the movie when Geeta Phogat wins her first international gold medal and i saw everyone in the theatre stand up for it. As far as i remember, there was no instruction on the screen to do so but the scene was executed so powerfully that it invokes a sense of pride for the Tricolor and makes you want to stand in respect for it.