Historian M G S Narayanan has termed as “stupidity” the Supreme Court ruling making the National Anthem mandatory before movie screenings. Calling it a good example of judicial overreach, the former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) said there was no need to justify or criticise the same as the order will fail on its own if people don’t make it fail.
“People who come to cinemas for entertainment don’t need to be force-fed nationalism. This move to impose nationalism won’t succeed. In fact, it will fail,” he said in an interview published in Mathrubhumi Weekly.
Narayanan, who is one of India’s top authorities on ancient history, said India does not have a nationalism as it is more a civilisation. “We can call it a federation of nationalities, but not a nation. I have never felt it is a nation,” he said. “The national anthem comes into relevance only when there is a feeling of nationalism. But this feeling cannot be created by force, it should come naturally,” he said, adding that the efforts to force these feelings will in the end have a negative impact.
Narayanan, who was appointed head of ICHR during NDA rule, said these moves reminded him of a “dictatorial minority”, which was against the concept of democracy. “Article 51(A) in our Constitution is clear that the respect of our country and its symbols is not something that should be achieved judicial force,” he said, adding that the 1986 Supreme Court ruling in the case pertaining to students from the Jehova’s Witness community underlines that our culture teaches us tolerance and our spiritual leaning espouses tolerance.
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