Theaters have been given 10 days to comply with a new order that they play the national anthem of India in theaters nationwide. The New York Times reports that the order follows a ruling Wednesday by India’s Supreme Court.
The anthem must be played before each screening, accompanied by images of the Indian flag. Everyone present must stand, and theater exits are to be shut while the anthem plays.
The court said the order would instill “a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in Indian citizens.
“Be it stated, the time has come, the citizens of the country realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to the national anthem,” the ruling reads.
The order cites the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act of 1971, and adds that the country’s Constitution “does not allow any different notion, or the perception of individual rights.”
“The decision comes in a season of swelling nationalist pride in India,” The Times notes. “In late September, the Indian Army broke precedent and announced for the first time that its troops had crossed into Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and destroyed terrorist bases there in retaliation for an attack by militants on an Indian Army base. The move was widely celebrated in the news media, burnishing the popularity of India’s tough-talking prime minister, Narendra Modi.”
The report adds: “Anti-Pakistan sentiment has also reached the big screen after a major Indian cinema group announced that it would no longer screen films that included Pakistani actors.”
With a population of more than 1.25 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world and has been closing the gap on China, which has about 1.37 billion people.