Stop Criminalising People in the Name of Nationalism! Hands off Cinemas!
Statement from the People's Film Collective, Kolkata
December 19, 2016
"Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity….Nationalism is a great menace. It is the particular thing which for years has been at the bottom of India's troubles." –
— Rabindranath Tagore on nationalism
It is a tragic farce that the national anthem, penned by Tagore — a fierce and consistent opponent of the menace of nationalism — is being used today to shove "enforced patriotism" down the throats of cinema audiences in the country. A judgement by the Supreme Court makes it mandatory for cinema halls to play the anthem before movie shows, and the audiences, it is said, must stand up to show respect!
Making use of this judgement — which we feel must be questioned — more shocking developments have been unfolding. While even the judgement does not indicate any criminal proceedings to be initiated against people who protest against it through acts of civil disobedience, the police have taken it a notch further. In a series of appalling incidents in the past week, twenty people have been arrested from a film festival venue and cinema halls, by the police in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, for not complying with the diktats of such mandatory show of patriotism. What an irony that the current government in Kerala, run by the CPI(M), which is supposed to stand against such puerile and enforced notions of showing patriotism, sends the police to arrest conscientious protestors who protested by civil disobedience.
We strongly condemn such acts of arrests and high-handedness in mandating the national anthem in cinema halls! It betrays a deep insecurity of the central government. The national anthem must not become the last resort of scoundrels!
Revoke the high-handed order making it mandatory for cinemas to play the anthem! Stop pushing the syringe of nationalism into people's veins! Stop incarcerating people in the name of nationalism!
Also see cultural theorist Sadanand Menon's comment on the order here.
Also read Kerela CM, Pinarayi Vijayan's comments on the controversy here.
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