On wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemasOn wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas

On 30 November 2016, the Supreme Court ordered that the national anthem must be played inpublic cinema halls all over India before a movie along with the national flag on the screen. Noexceptions were to be made. Needless to say, the national anthem was making the headline, again.”By reasons of vast diversity based on religion, caste and region, it becomes necessary to have aunifying force which can be brought about by playing the national anthem in theatres. So when peoplecome out of the theatre, they are all Indians”-Attorney General KK VenugopalThe supreme court, in acceptance of the government’s affidavit, recognised a 12-member panelwhich was organized to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.K K Venugopal, the Attorney General, told the bench that the committee would submit its report innext six months. “People go to movie halls for undiluted entertainment”, said the judges.The top court made playing of the national anthem in cinema halls before screening of moviesoptional, observing that society did not need moral policing. The bench headed by Chief JusticeDipak Misra stated,”In the future, the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas sayingthis would disrespect the National Anthem.”The court indicated that it may modify its own order from November 2016, by replacing the word”shall” with “may”.A number of incidents occurred as a result of the National Anthem being made compulsory. Adisability rights activist was disrupted and called a Pakistani in Guwahati at a multiplex withoutconsidering his own disability. Additionally, during the international film festival in Thiruvanthapuram,six people were taken into custody in Kerala for not standing during the nationalanthem. Bharatiya Yuve Morcha activists complained to the police. Furthermore, seven people werecharged in Chennai after a fight broke out over taking self-portraits and not standing during thenational anthem.Do we all agree on playing the national anthem before a film? Why is a multiplex suddenly the bestplace to show your patriotism? Why isn’t it a school? This is real issue facing the average Indianlooking for his dose of entertainment. Some believe, in a country like India with a large population, a cinema hall is the ideal location totarget a diverse crowd and instil patriotism. “Tomorrow, if someone says don’t wear shorts and T-shirts to cinema halls because national anthemis being played because it will amount to disrespect to the national anthem. Where do we draw a line?Where do we stop this moral policing?”-Justice DY Chandrachud.Is it compulsory to play the national anthem before a movie? This presents mixed emotions in theminds of people because of the SC rulings. There are numerous Indians who would gladly stand forthe national anthem but think that a cinema hall is not necessarily the best place for it. These peoplefeel further aggravated as they can’t speak up; because if they do, they would be branded asunpatriotic. There are many more instances where moral policing remains prevalent. Events including fights in atrain when someone gets upset about a person eating non-vegetarian food. We witnessed mobspulling women out of pubs because they believed it was not sanskari to do so. A group of peoplebroke into an art gallery because they found an artist’s work inappropriate. In the name of gau bhakti,a person can break into someone’s house and raid their refrigerator. People can possibly put their patriotism to some good and work on more productive areas to showtheir love for our country; Rather than say, “Can’t we stand for 52 seconds to show some love for ourcountry!”. There are many things that need our attention. Initiatives like swaccha bharat, safety of women, basicsanitation, etc. truly reflect on our capability as a nation and the strength of our people. Why not use your precious energy to address the real issues corrupting this nation?