Insults and Injury
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As Indians, we are a prickly lot when any one disrespects our beloved national emblems and institutions.
Even the most vociferous critic, who otherwise exults in ranting against corruption, nepotism and moral bankruptcy in India, gets rabidly patriotic when it comes to defending any insult — perceived or real — to our glorious tiranga.
In some Indian cities, cine-goers juggling popcorn, colas and assorted snacks have barely settled into their multiplex seats when the national anthem comes on and everyone is required to stand to attention for the duration it is played out. More often than not, the audience sings or hums along and invariably someone will fervently shout "Jai Hind" at the end. Even giggly collegians, who have no compunctions about talking loudly on their mobile phones and generally making a nuisance of themselves, know better than to misbehave during these few minutes. A couple of years ago, a young actor was chastised in the media as being anti-national when she reportedly moaned in a multiplex that she was being forced to stand to attention against her will.
A Delhi-based designer was also in the dock for creating a garment using the national flag as a drape. The impressionable girl was perhaps aping fashion statements in the US where Americans often wear their patriotism not only on their sleeves but also on their hot pants, footwear and bikinis.
The stars and stripes may be ubiquitous, but our stringent flag code prohibits us from flaunting the tiranga freely. Until recently, we were not permitted to display the national flag in our homes, except on designated holidays. And the police were quick to haul people to jail if they did not adhere to precise rules regarding how, when and where the national flag could be hoisted and lowered. The young MP, Naveen Jindal, who is currently in the news, almost single-handedly fought to have the laws amended and won citizens the right to fly the tricolour freely.
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