Take a Walk.......

Monday, August 21, 2006

Of Vande mataram and related controversies

Another age old controversy has raised its head, that of the recital of Vande Mataram to be made compulsory in educational institutions from Sept. 7th 2006, which it seems was requested by Oldie Arjun Singh - this man knows how to be in controversies time and again. The political parties have taken their expected sides and Oldie Singh has gone on the backfoot saying it was only a request to celebrate the ceneterary of the song.

As expected many Muslim organisations have criticised the move saying its against their religion to which the strongest comment came from BJP's Naqvi. Now everyone knows how this man has sold himself including his soul for party and power - remember Naqvi justifying the Gujarat riots along the party lines. The other strong comments came from Maulana Bukhari, now I don't know anyone including Muslims outside old Delhi who care a damn about his muttering, except the Sangh parivar and the media as this gives them more arsenal to vilify the "others" in the country.

Being a liberal, that's what I call myself for being not very religious and patriotic, I don't understand this concept of forcing nationalism down the throat of people. Let people to follow what they have faith in, what they believe in. If they have a problem with singing Vande mataram why force them to, no one ever spoke against the National Anthem. It's become a trend to be patriotic these days and the current patriotism and nationalism have a great bent towards one particular religion, its tradition, beliefs and customs which are offensive to the other.

Whenever such scenarios come to light there are two options, one the majority should try to force their customs and beliefs down the throats of the minorities and call them unpatriotic, traitors and many other things which I won't like to mention. The other option can be to let the minorities define their own sense of nationalism and be patriotic in their own way. In the current scenario the general consensus seems to favor the first option and hence many problems.

Coming back to the point of singing Vande Mataram, I have always lived in areas which were predominantly Muslim and since childhood there has been a trend in our localities to hoist the national flag and sing the national anthem on the independence Day and Republic Day. No one ever had problem with it, but when you ask them to play the National song they don't. One of the schools I attended made us to recite Vande Mataram occasionally, My parents being aware of it had some reservations but never really asked me not to sing it. But when the same song is being played on TV they do mind, they find it more of a bhajan and offensive to their religious sentiments. Now I dare Mr. Naqvi to call my parents anti-nationals and Mr. Bukhari to call me anti-religious because its people like them who are the problem and not us.

Another instance of how shedding blood can't win hearts, For hundred years many organisations including the Sangh tried every trick of force and coercion in the book to popularise what became the national song after Independence among all sections of the society but failed. One music maestro, the nightmare of the Sangh - a convert - created a version which was loved by the whole nation and was an instant hit. Need I say more.

Our heritage.

We celebrated our 60th Independence day a week a ago, on this eve there were many features by channels across the board. Especially the news channels, the one that caught my attention was a feature on the places of historic importance with regards to the struggle for Independence rusting to dust every day on one of the English news channels. Its a fact that in India we really don't take good care of our heritage, be it the centuries old temples or mosques or places of historic importance.

One such place of historic importance highlighted was the small town of chauri chaura in Gorakhpur district of U.P. For a matter of fact how many people actually remember the name of the place let alone what happened out there. We sure due have a memorial built there in the name of those who died fighting for the freedom of the nation but how many people actually take care to visit such places is the question that bugs me.

We sure do take care of the places if there is a big inherent gain to attain from it. Take the case of Babri masjid that was destroyed by Sangh Parivar and its ofshoots, the Muslims started fighting for the place only after the parivar people laid their claim on it to convert it into a temple otherwise it was dying its own death due to neglect and I am not ever sure even if some prayers were carried out in it till the controversy arose.

This trend is too getting deeply rooted in our society, there is a viral campaign by some malicious souls which are spreading forward mails and SMS' claiming that there are certain findings which prove that the Taj Mahal wasn't actually built by Shah Jahan but by some Hindu king many centuries back, probably during Ram rajya. I don't understand how does it matter whether the Taj was built by Shah Jahan or by some other King, people don't visit the Taj because it was built by Shah Jahan, they visit it because it is Taj Mahal.

A few months back Indian Express had started a campaign to save our heritage structures where they highlighted the importance and the current condition of a few structures every week. They probably would have thought they would be able to bring about some awareness among the people, but the way the campaign died down it doesn't seem it clicked, after all who cares about what's gone there's some much to do ahead. But the fact is that the people who cannot take care of their own heritage can't build a solid foundation for their own future.