MUMBAI: Union minister Smriti Irani Wednesday claimed that a narrative was being pushed forward in India, wherein many countrymen were told that it was not "cool" to be patriotic.
"What is extremely interesting to note is that while we speak about India, at the same time there are many Indians who are told it is not cool to be patriotic," Irani said at the Republic TV Summit here.
"Why would you shed a tear when the national anthem is played, why would you want to stand? In fact, the best way to celebrate the democracy is by saying 'Bharat ke sau tukde hoge' and I disagree with it," She added.
Her response came after journalist Arnab Goswami read a quote of Irani, where she said she loves the country and there is "nothing regressive, saffron about it".
The minister said she stood by the statement and was not "apologetic" about it.
"Why should an Indian be apologetic about being patriotic or loving their country or flag in this very country? Why would you divide us by saying 'your sense of nationalism is a bit communal and mine is more secular'. I think that's a big abomination in terms of nationalism and patriotism how I perceive it to be...," she said.
She was speaking as part of the debate between her and actor-politician Kamal Haasan.
When Goswani asked Haasan about one of his past statements wherein he had said he doesn't like patriotism being tested at random places, the actor said, "When you play national anthem in cinema theatres, that's not the place to test it."
Irani responded saying, "I don't think the national anthem is played to test someone's patriotism. A community of people come together and celebrate that this is the one thing we have in common. We don't have our languages, culture in common, but the goosebumps we get when national anthem plays is common."
Haasan said "goosebumps happen when it's done in a proper atmosphere" and added that he himself had experienced that.
"But if it happens everyday, it loses its effect," he said further.
During the event, Irani narrated an incident from International Film Festival of India (IFFI), where something went wrong with the audio and "all Indians in one voice started singing the national anthem".
"They didn't feel squeamish because the French or other foreign dignitaries were around. They were proud that we as Indians, irrespective of our diversity, sang our national anthem," she said.
"I don't want to be apologetic about it. I don't think my nation seeks validation from me. I don't think the soldier on the border is seeking my validation, 'sing this national anthem for me'. He stands there so that I can sing it anytime anywhere I want," she added.