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Yet another post on Vande Mataram September 7, 2006

Posted by sk in Blogroll, Miscellaneous, Music, National, Political.
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Oh God, not another one! Fear not, this time, it’s only a link to the song on YouTube. Or at least, it was supposed to be only that. Obviously I’m not yet tired of this topic and am prepared to milk it dry. Anyway, here’s the song at the center of the controversy:

All right, I lied (does it matter?). This is actually A.R.Rahman‘s version of the song and it’s definitely not as controversial as the original one, so what better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the song? It’s a pity that I couldn’t find my favorite patriotic song – Anu Malik’s “I love India” or something of that sort.  

Update (9/8/06): Here’s an interesting view on the topic:

“Making it mandatory to sing “Vande Mataram” is a gross infringement on individual freedom. No government has the authority to force a word out of my larynx. Or block me from reading a blog. Or prevent me from reading a book (like say for instance ‘Satanic Verses’) . End of story.”

“… symbol of patriotic pride has been misappropriated for sectarian gains. For the BJP/Hindu revivalists, “Vande Mataram”’s Durga-imagery is a vindication of its identification of nationalism with “Hindutva”. For the proponents of a pan-Islamic identity (like the Imam Bukhari) who are dead set on showing to the world that Islam is under attack in India (despite the fact that Muslims enjoy rights and privileges in India they would struggle to have in other non-Muslim countries—paradoxically rights which Muslim countries deny to their own minorities), “Vande Mataram”’s allusion to a non-Allah superior being is proof positive of a sinister Hindu conspiracy to humiliate and oppress their community.”

Which, in general, reflects Mr.tismarkhan’s (yeah, I know, “Mr. tismarkhan”. It sounds cool!!! :p) views on the topic. Incidentally, Mr. Tismarkhan is also the MVP of this blog site (whatever that means). But what about disrespecting the flag? Should the country not force you NOT to do that either? Or disrespecting the national anthem (or even the national song)? Also, what about the Christian prayers we were forced to recite each morning in school? How come no one has protested against that practice yet (or maybe someone has and I am not aware of it)? I agree with Mr.greatbong, though, that the BJP tried to exploit the situation and equate hindutva with nationalism, which pissed off Muslims. Fair enough. As I said earlier, good idea to get school kids to sing the song, if only it had not been guided by their ulterior motives. The whole issue will soon be forgotten (like Sania Mirza???), only to be rekindled 10, 25, or 50 years from now. Until then, we can rest assured in the knowledge that two simple words like “Vande Mataram” will not divide the country.

Update (9/10/06): Another blogger, Balajiworld has this to say about the whole situation:

“… so called ‘leaders’ chose to represent a fringe minority of bigots by not singing the national song instead of the millions of largely tolerant and easy going muslims/christians who happily paid tributes to the song on its 100th anniversary. Manmohan Singh has fallen one more step in my eyes.”

FWIW, he’s a known BJP sympathizer. This is apparent from some of his other articles. However, this does raise an interesting question: Should the PM have sung the song?

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Comments»

1. tismarkhan - September 7, 2006

hmm..
just the day I decided that I will wordpress only at the start and end of my day..(As far as I can tell I am the first one to use ‘wordpress’ as a verb here..!!, let this day be rememebered other than 100th anniversary of vm..!!)

I see the most active day on this blog..2 more post on vm, 2 first-timer comments, and whole lot of sania…

ok, I will spend next 30 minutes responding to all the comments and new blogs now..!

oh…let me start from here, after listening to this, I kind of figured out why AR Rahman didnt mind singing VM.
He repeatedly says Ma Tujhe Salam. Almost like he is translating VM. and if so, saluting motherland is not exactly prohbited in islam. ..

This dude has actually proposed that if scholars decide that VM is all about saluting, then we dont have a problem….

(I hope your hindi reading is not too rusty)

2. sk - September 7, 2006

God! It’s too much for me. I need a translator!!! I agree. Rahman is a pretty religious guy and he apparently has no problem singing VM. Neither did Mahboob, who also is pretty religious.

3. tismarkhan - September 8, 2006

Oh commom.. Hindi is our ‘NATIONAL LANGUAGE’..How can you put your language over the country?..
by next 7th september if you do not prove your patriotism by reading that article loudly in hindi, you should just leave the country…(.oh you already did…!! )
wow..I love this argument..I will try to run it by BJP and see if they are interested in buying it..!

anyways, the only point in that article is this Muslim cleric guy, thinks that if VM means saluting the country, then muslim should not have a problem with it…and my point is Rahman only says ‘Ma Tujhe Salam’..!

4. tismarkhan - September 8, 2006

Interesting point about christian prayers. I know there was a movement against that..I do not know what the status now but yes making you say ‘Jesus’ is certainly wrong. In fact its illegal. I sure remember reading in my civics books that no educational institution can preach any religion.

The only question is whether singing a prayer without any explicit mention to any form of God, is preaching religion or not.

I think schools argue that they are just making you praise ‘God’ in english and there is nothing christian about it.
That still infringes on beliefs of an atheist but I do not think anyone bothers abt them in India.

I never studied in a christian school but now I remember singing VM every thursday morning back then. Couple of muslims in our majority hindu schools did not seem to object!!

and yes, even in the ‘Free Society’, we should have laws against disrespecting flag (which we do) and against tampering National anthem/songs.
or at least the anthem. I even like the protocol of standing when JGM is played.

If one is given the liberty of not singing national song, he\she should not use this as an opportunity to disrespect it in anyway.

5. sk - September 8, 2006

“The only question is whether singing a prayer without any explicit mention to any form of God, is preaching religion or not.”

Hmmm. If these schools can force me recite, “Our Father who art in Heaven” (which only mentions a Father in heaven, and Father doesn’t refer to Gandhi, or does it?), I see nothing wrong in forcing kids to sing VM, which is not even a prayer. As I’ve mentioned on several occassions, BJP tried to use this whole situation to gain political mileage and to equate Hindutva with national pride. Jackasses!

6. planetsk - September 8, 2006

Do you know that there are a few RSS groups in US promoting what(?) I dont know but..why? Is it that US born Indians need to know about Hinduism through RSS??

Coming to schooling in India, I did go to Christian Missionary school (students included muslims,hindus and also sikhs..) and was also involved in some sort of prayers..something like “God’s love is so wonderful..etc..” I dont remember it correctly but we had an hour of church every week..in 8th or 9th grade..it was fun in church.. I kept asking some weird questions to my teacher/sister..it was just b’coz of christian school..and no student really knew what and why are they praying for and also the teacher had no intention to inject any thoughts of christianity..

Btw, back in school we had VM and JGM everyday..

Is it true that Indian Govt.is becoming more liberal abt natioanal flag like in US..(having it in food courts, malls etc.,)?? Does anyone know anything abt this or it’s just me who was informed incorrectly..

7. tismarkhan - September 9, 2006

“..Hmmm. If these schools can force me recite, “Our Father who art in Heaven” (which only mentions a Father in heaven….”
All I can say is if you think there was anything christian about it, then protesting it would be fair enough. So instead of saying “if christian prayers are right, then evevn VM is right”,..i would day “if VM is wrong then even this is wrong” ..(for the records, personally I do not think VM is wrong, I will summarize my views in the next comment, which should apppear in all three posts on this topic[For now decided against putting it on other 2 posts, as I have a feeling I might have to respond to some other comments as well there, before summarizing my views!])

“..Is it true that Indian Govt.is becoming more liberal abt natioanal flag like in US..”
I hope not and I dont think so either. Last I checked, Indian govt allowed civilains to host national flag on days other than 15th Aug and 26th Jan.I really do not want to see Indian flag as liberal as US flag and people wearing ‘patriotic undergarments’!
When I was in seattle during summer, I walked into a Kmart to buy some paper towels. It so happened that they only sold US flag ‘patriotic napkins’. I had to buy those as there was no other option and rest you can imagine for what purpose I might have used it. I surely do not want Indian flag to be sold on paper towels in k-mart.

8. tismarkhan - September 9, 2006

Summary of my views on VM:

1. Religion and State should be separated. In schools, there should not be any sessions where they preach religion in anyway or even give an hint to existence of God. Atheism is not illegal and schools cannot and should not force anyone to believe in God. (FYI, I belive in God!)

2.Having said this, ideally this does not effect VM. Because in its present form (abridged) and context (Mother land), there is nothing religious about VM. So in the ideal world, there should not be any issue at all of singing VM in schools.

3. Now here is the bummer. After 100 years of controversy and 60 years in independent India, it does not matter what VM actually means which itself is quite debatable. I can however say that it was a slogan which led the country to dawn of independence and every Indian must be proud of singing it. However, With all its unfortunate history attached, I cannot just get up on a bright morning and convince everyone that there is nothing ‘religious’ about a song which was originally an ode to durga, which was written by a person who was very vocal about his anti-muslim views, and which was rejected as a national anthem on the grounds of being anti-quran.

4. I must again say that I strongly believe that VM is non-religious and there is nothing anti-muslim about it and I think people who think otherwise, have a very narrow view on religion and nation. However, they still have same right as me to live proudly in this country and I have no problems with it.

5. I have made this point earlier in a humor, but again, we have long list of National Items, language, Sport, Flower, Animal…and we even have a Father of Nation. I am pretty sure its not a law in our country that everyone should be represented by that list of national items (other than national anthem and I think its a right exception). So I think VM being national song is not a reason enough to make everyone sing that.
Although what is really important about VM is its revolutionary history and thats why it SHOULD be remembered by our countrymen for ever and only for that reason I am always ready to sing it. Sare Jaha Se Acha is not a national song (I suspect one reason could be the poet was a propenent of creation of pakistan. Almost a muslim counter-part of Bankim Da.!) I still love that song as much as VM and the status of ‘national song’ does not really matter to me.

9. -sk- - September 9, 2006

Yet another comment on Vande Mataram: 

“In schools, there should not be any sessions where they preach religion in anyway or even give an hint to existence of God.”
Public schools – yes! What about [privately owned] minority institutions?

“I must again say that I strongly believe that VM is non-religious and there is nothing anti-muslim about it and I think people who think otherwise, have a very narrow view on religion and nation.”

It’s funny that some people still say, “Even Rabindranath Tagore found VM (esp., the references to Durga) anti-Muslim,” withouth realizing that those paragraphs in question have since been removed from the national song.

“So I think VM being national song is not a reason enough to make everyone sing that.”

Nothing wrong in getting school children to sing the song, as long as it’s not the result of one political party’s desire to exploit the whole situation and equate singing it with Hindutva and consequently, hindutva with national pride. FWIW, it was a Hindu nationalist that killed the ‘Father of the Nation’ then and it’s Hindu Nationalists that are killing the ‘National Song’ now. Wow! That was profound. 🙂 *Pat myself in the back*

It’s funny that in certain cities and villages, when reporters asked kids if they’d like to sing VM, they all thought they were referring to Rahman’s song. It seems like Rahman did achieve his objective of popularizing the words, “Vande Mataram.”

10. tismarkhan - September 9, 2006

“…Public schools – yes! What about [privately owned] minority institutions?…”

I would say YES. I never really liked the idea of minority institution, but I guess its fine if a religious group wants to form a school. Its fine, but as far as I know, they cannot admit students based on religion and they certainly should not preach God in there.

Having said that, it is not completely true that minority institutions in India do not consider religion while admissions. Some do off the record and some on the record and thats why Aligarh University was in news few months back. It is clearly unconstitutional as much as I have read my civics books. It was really ironical that the university was still openly practicing that policy.

SK, when you quoted me in the above comment as “…I strongly believe that VM is non-religious ….. people who think otherwise, have a very narrow view on religion and nation…”
You missed the conclusion line which was the real point I was trying to make and without which it might skew the meaning.

The point was even if I do not think VM is religious, if some do, because of the history associated to its author and original context, I will just bite the bullet on that and will not consider them as ‘traitor’ or disrespecting the country…!! It would be a narrow minded view of those, but thats not hurting me.

“..Nothing wrong in getting school children to sing the song..”
I think so too, but just as i said above on this particular one if some one really objects singing it, I will just yeild to that objection and move on.
I wil not yield bcos I agree with them, but because of  point no. 3 I described in my summarized views.

“..It’s funny that in certain cities and villages, when reporters asked kids if they’d like to sing VM, they all thought they were referring to Rahman’s song. ..”
Its indeed funny. Forget villages, I saw some TV show, where some reporter was asking city ‘smart and educated’ teens, ‘who is author of VM?’, most of the answers were A R rahman and some said Tagore! and the smartest of them were like ‘bankim…something something..’

11. planetsk - September 9, 2006

“..It’s funny that in certain cities and villages, when reporters asked kids if they’d like to sing VM, they all thought they were referring to Rahman’s song. ..”

Great going Rahman..keep it up..he should come up with another patriotic song and make kids to sing it in schools.. that would be great..just kidding..
May be the next generation even say why should they care about things that happened before they were born..historical events might just fade away (did they already?? except in movies)..some might even make a movie with title “Jana Gana Mana” and ppl may refer to the movie than the anthem just like Rahaman’s VM..

I thought topic of discussion would focus on Sania rather than “Yet another post on VM”..hmmmm… Come on Sania..do something big.. so that we can blog about you..

Jai Bolo Bharath Matha Ki..
PS: Bharath Matha has no religion and well educated..:)

12. -sk- - September 9, 2006

“May be the next generation even say why should they care about things that happened before they were born..historical events might just fade away (did they already?? except in movies”

History is already skewed. Every party/caste/society has a different representation of it. Some people will tell you Gandhi was nothing but a wimp (followers of Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, etc.). This view is reflected in movies like “The Legend of Bhagat Singh”, which shows Gandhi in poor light. Other movies like Gandhi portray a different image of the man. Some Swayamsevaks make Godse out to be a hero, because he saved the country from subsequent ruin by killing Gandhi. The Congress party will tell you that the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty was a godsend to our country. And of course, there are people like Kal, who believe that Google is responsible for all that’s good in the world, but I won’t go into that.

13. -sk- - September 9, 2006

“I thought topic of discussion would focus on Sania rather than “Yet another post on VM”..hmmmm… Come on Sania..do something big.. so that we can blog about you..”

You’re right. She should do something big. Since it doesn’t look like she has it in her to win a tournament, she should do the next best thing to stay in the news… kill someone.

14. Balaji - September 11, 2006

Good job guys. And ofcourse thanks for the publicity! Grr.. a known BJP sympathizer? alright I accept that. anyway i feel sorry for the average muslim in India who was subjected to this unnecessary test of patriotism. people who should have stood by him/her betrayed instead. no point blaming the islamic fundamentalists. if they could see reason VM may have as well been our national anthem. no point blaming the hindu right either. when the opposition is scoring a self goal, why would they complain? but the government and the media who should have come out vociforously against these bigots, made the Indian muslims to go thru this test and happily declared them as ‘failed’. muslims urgently need genuine leaders.

-Balaji.

15. sk - September 11, 2006

Thanks, Balaji. It’s true that the Government (specifically Arjun Singh) did mess up big time on this one.


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