Why I did not stand for the National Anthem

[The following post was written and published in late 2009, by Adhiraj Bose in the earlier New Wave blog when New Wave Bolshevik Leninist was united with its Delhi section. The sentiments presented here are still relevant now.]

This day the 15th of August has a significance unparalleled for Indians. This supposedly is the day of India’s independence. When I woke up this morning my mother turned on the television and there was on my screen the national anthem being played as the national flag was being unfurled. Both my parents stood up to pay their respects. The initial kneejerk reaction from me was to do the same. But just before I was about to stand a thought gripped my mind. In India today, 80% of her citizens live on $2 a day barely able to scrape a living under the adverse conditions of a world financial crisis. At least 60 % of the country’s population who are directly dependant on agriculture will have to deal with drought as 1/4th of India is being declared as hit by drought.

The people of Bihar and Bengal have yet to ameliorate the disastrous impacts of cyclone Alia and the massive floods last year. As I pondered upon these issues plaguing our country I wondered as to how these men and children of India would celebrate the day of independence. What would they say when we tell them “you are free, now celebrate your freedom”, what would India’s common man say ? “freedom ?!! What freedom ? The drought has made sure crops would fail this year and I have yet to repay my debt to the village money lender ! My entire life is in his hands and you say I am free ? No I am not free !” . “Freedom ?!! What freedom ? My lands were taken away by the state and sold off to a corporate who set up his factory there. I have received compensation but how far would that go ? My livelihood has been taken from me and you say that I am free ? No I am not free !” . ” Freedom ?!! What freedom ? We live under the shadow of terror from the state which purports to give us freedom !! Freedom ! yes perhaps for those who kill our sons and rape our daughters with impunity you can say they have freedom ! But me the commoner who merely searches for decent work and security ! To talk of freedom ? No I am not free ! “. ” Freedom ?!! What freedom pray can a man have with barely 200 rupees at the end of the day ? I live in a chawl where there is barely any space to live with a family of 5. I have a wife and two children to support and work for 8 hours a day in a factory that hardly provides for any security ! With such conditions what man can be free ? and you say I am free ? no I am not free !”.

Indeed what freedom has this day brought us ? Yes there are the two great bourgeois freedoms we have , The freedom to own property and the farcical freedom to “vote”. The freedom to own property has guaranteed less freedom to the masses and more freedom to the exploiting capitalists to deprive entire populations of this very right. The freedom to vote ? Vote for whom ? and for what ? 300 out of 543 members in the parliament are multi millionaires. That great “sacred institution of bourgeois democracy” has been literally bought out by the Indian bourgeoisie. And what will our supposedly “chosen” leaders do with our votes ? But of course uncompromisingly serve the interests of the class they represent the great Indian bourgeoisie. Hence people continue to lose land , get deprived of their livelihoods, continue to live under poverty and we are told to celebrate our freedom !!! Do 47% of India’s malnutrition affected people have even enough energy to stand let alone stand to respect the national anthem ? And while my countrymen starve what right do I have to stand and respect such “freedom” ? On this day I chose to sit .To stand for the anthem of such false partial freedoms would be insult to the starving millions who can barely afford a morsel of rice to suffice their hunger. I will reserve my respect for the forgotten martyrs who fought for a freedom that was far better than this nightmare.

I will keep forever in my heart respect for the martyred comrades of the BLPI , of Bhagat Singh and countless unknown martyrs who fought and died for the cause of Socialist revolution. I will reserve my stand for the day when our national anthem stops singing the praise of this illusory freedom and would sing instead for the glory of a socialist revolution. Until then I won’t vote, nor act as a cheerleader to the Indian bourgeois and stand for its false freedom. Until the day of revolution I fight for the real freedom. The freedom of the masses. The freedom from Capitalism!


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