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The Debate Between The Duty To Respect The National Flag And The Anthem Versus Using Them As Symbols

Irish Patriot Daniel O'Connell, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honor, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. - Farewell Speech by Dr B.R Ambedkar.

These lines are the milestone to be achieved for getting complete freedom with honor in India. Freedom doesn't always signify physical confinement of an individual to a place but it gives a feeling of liberty of thoughts, expression and provide an ideology to believe, to follow for sake of nation first. National flag and National Anthem are not merely a symbol of freedom but it's a feeling of liberalization, honor, proud that we are citizen of this country and we didn't just propose them but we have earned them.
It is necessary to know about the National Flag and National Anthem from their initial adaptation so that we can know the value involved and propagate a message of peace, love & sacrifices through them for our beloved country India. Gandhi first proposed a flag to the Indian National Congress in 1921.The flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya. In the center was a traditional spinning wheel, symbolizing Gandhi's goal of making Indians self-reliant by fabricating their own clothing.

On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India National Flag. After the advent of Independence, the colors and their implication remained the same. Only the Dharma Charkha of Emperor Asoka was adopted in place of the spinning wheel as the emblem on the flag. Thus, the tricolor flag of the Congress Party eventually became the tricolor flag of Independent India.
It will be necessary for us Indians Muslims, Christians Jews, Parsis, and all others to whom India is their home-to recognize a common flag to live and to die for. – Mahatma Gandhi .Essentially this was the only reason to adopt our National Flag , beautifully explained by Gandhi.

The vital fact that yields from the history of adoption of National Flag is that it was never only a symbol to represent Free India but it was always a  symbol of pride that represent our culture ,sacrifices of millions of people who die to save its identity and honour .It is no doubt a kind of idolatry which would be a complete sin to destroy.

Jana Gana Mana is the national anthem of India. It was originally composed as Bharoto Bhagya Bidhata in Bengali by poet Rabindranath Tagore. It was first publicly sung on 27 December 1911 at the Calcutta (now Kolkata) Session of the Indian National Congress. The national anthem, like other national symbols of a country, represents the tradition, history, identity and beliefs of a nation and its people.

Hence, it helps evoke feelings of patriotism among the country's citizens and prompts them of their nation's glory, beauty, and rich heritage. It also helps to bond the citizens of the country by one single song or music. It will be justifiable to say that National Anthem of a country is not to be treated only as a symbol or an identity of representation of a country.

Oneness among men, the advancement of unity in diversity -this has been the core religion of India  -Rabindra Nath Tagore .

For this belief he shaped anthem that will unite people of India in a single string of patriotism. During the performance of the national anthem, citizens of a nation, despite their ethnic differences, rise up in unison and listen attentively or sing the song with great enthusiasm. Players also feel a great moment of pride when they receive a medal at an international sporting event while their country's national anthem is played in the background. It gives them a feeling of having made their country proud. Students who listen to the national anthem in their schools learn to respect their nation and develop a sense of unity among themselves.

National-flag is more than a piece of cloth. It is the most solemn and constitutionally or traditionally authorized symbol of a country. It represents the whole country, the entire nation, its ideals, hopes, aspirations and the pride. People throughout the history of mankind have laid down life for their National-flag, as it is the strongest patriotic symbol.
It purely depictable that National Flag and National Anthem is not merely a symbol but much more than that. A sense of pride, aspirations, honor, sacrifices and most prominently feeling of patriotism which every citizen of India transmit within itself. It's our obligation to respect them not as symbol of protest only but as a true Indian who holds the audacity of hope for a better Nation.
Every nation has its idiosyncratic political symbols. Most intellectuals agree that nation need symbols but the reason for symbols being this important are less obvious. If it were only the intellectual function of a symbol to identify the nation, one might argue that political symbols are important and in common usage, but not that they are irreplaceable. However, political symbols realize much more on the emotional level than they achieve on the purely intellectual level. The emotional function of political symbols emphasizes the state's interest in their protection, and is thus of particular reputation to the analysis of the flag decisions.

One can distinguish at least two functions political symbols fulfill on the emotional level. These two functions are interrelated and influence each other, but they also have own unique implications. First political symbols crystallize the national identity by making tangible what would otherwise be difficult to apprehend. They codify the subjective nature of the nation. The Nation is invisible, it must be personified before it can be seen, symbolized before it can be loved, imagined before it can be conceived. Symbols tell citizens who they are, by demarcating what is authentically theirs from what is alien.
A symbol however has no intrinsic value in itself. Rather it is a sign, a representation for something else. As a sign, a symbol gets filled with meaning only by the meaning of the complex it represents. In a second related function, national symbols create bonds between the citizens of a nation in that they have unifying power.

The unifying power of a political symbol emerges from its usage. By uttering the same cry, pronouncing the same word or performing the same gestures in regard to these symbolic objects, individuals become and feel themselves to be in unison. However, national symbols can only display their unifying power when a community accepts them.

If the acceptance rate is too low, symbols lose their unifying value. The flag makes the functions of political symbols apparent. The flag serves as an apprehensible sign to identify the nation. In itself, it is only a piece of cloth, but by a shared understanding the flag identifies the nation. Displaying the flag unites those who share the values represented by the flag.
The citizens become aware of their unison, the community created by the symbol and what it represents. The question of the functions of symbols leads to the question of the state's interests in the protection of these symbols. As the state can demand respect for its symbols and not for the ideas and values they represent, it has to justify why it nevertheless intends to outlaw certain forms of disrespect of its political symbols.

The justification lies in the emotional functions of political symbols. Considering these various emotional functions state cannot only claim an interest in the protection of its symbols for their own sake. The state is more likely to claim an interest in preserving the emotional functions of symbols. In fact, the emotional functions of political symbols underlie most of the various arguments stated in the flag controversies.
The difficulty with symbols as a protest is with its history, and history can't be changed in instant of a time by any amount of logical reason or by simply a good will. Policies, Government may change but history is always with us , within us and pulling it up by its root invariably means by only digging deeper than we expect .As we all seen in history that such type of digging will only result in bloodshed than reform.

We have our legal rights to protest, to condemn in democratic form of government but by doing so we reduce the values of Nation for the other people who believe in future of a Nation for their hope, pride and sacrifices of their ancestors.
Flag and Anthem are active symbols of protest for raising and lowering daily. The Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971 Section-5 of this Act  was made and in the law itself it states-National Honour .National Honour can't be a concern for an individual only or his perspective towards them .Use of  National flag for protest or deny to stand for National anthem will be an insult to all the freedom fighters, social workers, framers of Constitution, people of India who worked with their flesh and blood to give a meaning to our Nation. Its only about the patriotism to feel inside our heart not to carry everywhere as a symbol. Every citizen of India has a foremost duty to protect the honor of their Nation and to flourish the message of brotherhood & love.
In Naveen Jindal (Petitioner) case[1], who was the Joint Managing Director of a factory, whose office premises had been flying the national flag of India. Government officials did not permit him to do this, citing the Flag Code of India. Mr. Jindal filed a petition before the High Court arguing that no law could forbid Indian citizens from flying the national flag and, furthermore, the Flag Code of India was only a set of executive instructions from the Government of India and therefore not law.

The High Court allowed the petition and held that the Flag Code of India was not a valid restriction on the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The High Court observed that, according to Article 19(2), the only valid limitations on this right were those that were contained in statute. In cases concerning the regulation of the flying of the national flag, such limitations could be found in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950 or the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act 1971.

Naveen Jindal established Flag Foundation Of India when SC in his case gave judgement in favour of him that National Flag can be hoisted all day of year by every Indians. This shows the pride and honor what Naveen Jindal felt at that time and not merely by looking at it as a symbol. So do all Indians must feel for their Nation.
In July 1985, Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala case[2]-three children were expelled from their school after they refused to sing the national anthem of India Jana Gana Mana. While they silently stood during the morning assembly of the school, they objected to singing the anthem because it was allegedly against their religious faith of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Supreme Court of India found that the expulsion of school children for not singing the national anthem constituted a violation of their right to freedom of expression.

The decision stated:
To compel each and every pupil to join in the singing of the National Anthem despite his genuine, conscientious religious objection..would clearly contravene the rights guaranteed by Art. 19(1)(a) and Art. 25(1) [of the Constitution of India].

Only by standing for National Anthem, they have shown respect for their Nation so there is nothing to questioned their patriotism and Nation as well respect their personal religious value for not singing contradictory to their believes and practices.
Recently government ordered to play National Anthem in all theaters before playing movies all over India. Some people find it as a pressure to impose such patriotic feeling and some find in other way. To treat them as a symbol ,it will always be difficult to appreciate such kind of orders to follow but when we actually feel the proud , pride and love of our Nation then these kind of law gives us an opportunity to express our feelings.

Sometime we may feel to express but most of us can't find time to do them ,in a way sense of patriotism will always be ignited by such way.  Its nothing wrong to stand for 2 min for sake of our Nation when can spend couple of hours for our entertainment. 2 min for those soldiers, freedom fighters and most importantly for our children. Children will learn the same sense of patriotic feeling for their Nation when they grew up because it come to their habit and do more for their Nation's development and growth. 
Patriotism means to stand by country. It doesn't mean to stand by government. – Theodore Roosevelt.

Promptly construing above thoughts, we can say that what we do to show our feeling, pride is towards the Nation not towards some government or orders pass by them.

From the above arguments it can be clearly opined that national anthem and national flag is not only a symbol to protest but it is a symbol of pride, Honour, respect for Nation and its people. And as a citizen of India its our responsibility to preserve that Honour for the National Anthem and National Flag.

  1. Union Of India v. Naveen Jindal & Anr  1996 AIR 2004 SC 1559 (CJI ,V.N Khare)
  2. Emmanuel & Ors v. State of Kerala 1987 AIR 748 (J,Reddy O Chinnappa)

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