A Nation’s Nonsense Notions
India is going to celebrate the centenary of national song of the nation. What Celebrations? The very soundness of Vande Mataram as the official national song is being questioned? Are we a nation with no conscience? What is so wrong about Indianess that the citizens of this nation time & again want to shed? Why do we need the HRD Minister to decree that we sing the Vande Mataram on Sep 7? It is not because the Honorable Shahi Imam is against it or opposition wants to kick up a ruckus. It is not true our Muslim Brethren do not identify with Vande Mataram.In fact Madarsas in MP has given a statement that all Madarsas would sing the first two stanzas of Vande Matarm.So who says that we are an unpatriotic nation? Honorable Minister, be assured there is no question of faith and patriotism of the Sons of this Soil. So then what is? Then the realization hit me like a thunder bolt!! We simply did not know the SONG!! The simple truth was 80% of the Adult citizens of Indian don’t even know beyond the second line of the song. With all due respects to the patriots ask yourself first and your family if they can sing ‘Vande Mataram’or what ‘Anandhamath’ was; you are in for a surprise fellow Indians. Until A.R.Rehman came out with his version of Vande Mataram, Most of us have gone on being comfortably numb.
This realization jolted me and so I went on to do a first hand survey of my own to prove me wrong. So I approached a few from the Software Kingdom and asked them if the national song should be sung in schools, Colleges and public institutions. All of them were very strong in affirmation immaterial of what background they came from. Then I asked if anyone could sing Vande Mataram. My brethren from ‘Chipville’ all began with the A.R.Rehman Version. Exactly after the Sujala ...Sufala … there was a self realized shock. I went on and asked a few from the engineering fraternity and the results were the same. It was the same with school kids, Lawyers…. My dear Hon. Union Minister, I am sure if you try this exercise with the fellow members who occupy the Lok Sabhas and Rajya Sabhas You would be in for a shocker too.
As I have pointed here there is no question of any Indian being unpatriotic. But we are simply ensconced in the comfort of the freedom that our forefathers got us. Most of the time this freedom has gone and made us lazy. I remember as a kid when I used to go for movies, all the cinemas used to play the Vande Mataram when the show began and closed with the National Anthem. Everyone stood in attention and in rapt silence. Today I hardly see this. I don’t see anyone stand still and pay respect. Institutions have been more regionalized and so the official song got sidelined by songs that paid homage to the land and the mother tongue spoken in that region. The result was the kids hardly know what Vande Mataram is. Few Institutions play the national anthem at the end of the day. You will never see an American talking away on his cell phone when the Star Spangled Banner is played or a Brit not acknowledge the God Save The Queen or a Chinese scratch an itch when The march of the volunteers is playing. Are we not patriotic as they are? Yes we are but what we lack is a sense of discipline and respect towards the national Identity.
The reason for me to write this is the news today which said there is a dispute in centenary date of the national song .They claim that the author is assumed to have written the song before 1876. Even if this is proven true the only thing this would accomplish is to leave our dear minister red in the face. It is not going to take away the song in our hearts. It has been the ‘Banzai’ for the freedom fighters during the freedom movement. Today it is the dynamic force that is uniting a diverse nation.
There is many a thing that is nationalistic but is not feasible at situations. Take the national language ‘Hindi’; it is internationally identified as the language of India, butis strictly spoken only in a few states in Northern India. Though there are I believe over 200 tongues spoken in India, Hindi is still the binding force. So too Vande Mataram is the unifying force and a national voice of a united India. True the later stanzas of the song have a Hindu Color which offends Indians of other religious sects. But what people who are against singing Vande Mataram don’t see is that our wise leaders had already sorted this issue out.
In 1937 the Indian National congress discussed at length the status of the song. It was pointed out that the first two stanzas began with an unexceptionable evocation of the beauty of the motherland. So they decided to adopt only the first two stanzas as the national song. It is so in the constitution also.
Let us do away with petty issues and unite as Indians and sing and respect the (first learn) national song, centenary or not, now and forever.