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Asia Minute: Indian Movie Theaters Must Play the National Anthem

In the United States, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a popular time to go to the movies. For some families it’s a bit of a tradition. But for moviegoers in India, a new tradition has started at the movies. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Anyone going to the movies in India is going to hear the national anthem.  And the audience had better stand up.  India’s Supreme Court ruled the national anthem must be played before every movie—a national law that’s now been in force for a few weeks.

Up to now, that was a decision for each state—some had a law on the books, others did not.  But now the national flag needs to appear on-screen and the doors of the theater must be closed while the anthem is playing.  The court added that when it comes to national symbols, “the perception of individual rights is constitutionally impermissible.”

That line in particular upset some people, but overall there’s been a split reaction to the law.  Some critics are uncomfortable with rising nationalism in India…a movement they say is encouraged by the ruling conservative political party, the BJP.  Others are supportive—there have even been local reports of crowds turning on people who have not stood up during the national anthem.

The Hindustan Times reported a writer who refused to stand said his decision was not a symbol of disrespect.  He told the paper “I had a hard day and I was not in a good frame of mind, so I chose not to stand. But I love my country.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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