Standing up for national anthem is fine, but what about disrespecting the flag?

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In an era where people show off their nationalism and wearing patriotism on your sleeve becomes necessary, we must know what nationalism actually mean.

The Supreme Court of India has ordered that the national anthem be compulsorily played in cinema halls. Now no Indian will have a problem in standing up for the anthem anywhere, be it homes or cinemas because we respect it, but the most appropriate places that it should be mandatory are Parliament and government offices and institutions.

The SC should consider one more important issue that needs its attention urgently. There is a constitutional Act passed by Parliament in 1971 which prohibits desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the national flag, the Constitution, the Indian map and the national anthem.

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Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, says that whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

According to the Act, disrespect to the flag includes two important points:

1) Intentionally displaying the Indian National Flag with the “saffron” down.

2) Using the Indian National Flag as drapery in any form whatsoever, except in state funerals or armed forces or other paramilitary forces’ funerals.

According to the Act, whoever disfigures or shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written or by acts) the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India, shall be punished with imprisonment.

Firstly, the Constitution is the heart of a nation and it should not be criticised as a whole, such as scrapping of the Constitution as secular. Though criticising does not come under contempt, slandering the Constitution by demanding to “change” it amounts to an insult.

Many don’t even consider the tricolour as the Indian flag, they instead hoist the saffron flag. (Photo: India Today)
Many don’t even consider the tricolour as the Indian flag, they instead hoist the saffron flag. (Photo: India Today)

Despite that, some pseudo-nationalists are demanding retirement of the entire Constitution – which is prohibited.

We also see frequently how every August 15 (Independence Day) and January 26 (Republic Day), people disrespect the Indian national flag intentionally or unintentionally.

Nationalism is not just about boasting but also protecting our national symbols. We should know what amounts to an insult to our national symbols, constitutionally.

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Many people throw the flag on the road or mutilate it. Many don’t even consider the tricolour as the Indian flag, they instead hoist the saffron flag. Just as the RSS never hoisted the Indian flag for 50 years and recently started hoisting it – along with the saffron flag – on Independence Day.

The national flag cannot be substituted by any other flag or symbol. No flag of any political party or religious group can represent India. It’ll be the contempt of the national flag to display any other flag as “Indian”.

We also recently saw how the body of Ravin Sisodia, who was jailed for allegedly beating Mohammad Akhlaq to death (on the suspicion of eating beef) in Dadri last year, was draped in the tricolour.

It is dishonour of our flag if it used to drape the body of a murder-accused; the flag can only be used in army or state funerals.

The saffron flag – used to denote “Hindu Rashtra”, or scrapping India’s secular and diverse constitutional structure – should be prohibited by the Supreme Court.

If that’s not done, the fabric of our nation will rattle. India is a multicultural multi-religious and diverse nation. The hegemony of one community or theocracy is dangerous for the democratic setup of our great country.

Opinion Source : DailyO

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