fifty years ago September 7, 1970 Archives

From the Archives (September 7, 1970): Respect for the State (From an Editorial)

Most of the anti-national acts of individual citizens in a democracy are the outcome of their mental confusion. The confusion consists in identifying the government in power with the State and heaping injuries on State symbols like the national flag, the national anthem and the Constitution in a bid intended to wound only the party in office. The psychological effects of such confused action are easy to assess: Repeated insults to the nation in its symbols will make a mockery of the symbols and, as the habit spreads, the sense of national oneness which these symbols had been designed to infuse will get progressively weakened. The Bill introduced by the Union Government in the Lok Sabha to prevent such insults through specific penalties like imprisonment for three years or a fine or both has come none too soon. But such legislation has its limits. For instance, the Bill seeks to punish wanton disrespect to the national anthem, flag and Constitution. Apart from the theoretical possibilities for proving the existence of extenuating circumstances even in the case of wanton disrespect and thus escaping punishment, constraints on such misbehaviour can never be effectively enforced by laws alone.

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