Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Vande Mataram! But who are you, to make me sing it?

I once said to my friend that playing National anthem in cinema halls before each show is useless. My friend actually could not understand what I said. This is for him.

Farce Of Anthem in Cinema Halls: People deliberately come late to avoid standing silent during the play of national anthem, making a ridicule of the whole affair. Again, why the heck should I stand while the national anthem is played? Do I need to prove my love for my country by (just) standing up? Common folks! A human loves anything that is his! And by the way, is this supposed to be some kind of test for testing one's patriotism? Then I may say this is a damn foolish test. (I hate this word patriotism which has been hijacked by some perverted Political minds, who actually don't contribute a dime towards the country.)

Here is an editorial in Times Of India on 23 August, 2006. I do not agree to each point in this article, but it echoes my feelings to some extent. Here we go-

"The HRD ministry was wrong, in the first place, to issue a directive that all students must sing Vande Mataram on September 7 to commemorate 100 years of India's national song. Wearing one's patriotism on one's sleeve, and introducing compulsory rituals in its name, serves little purpose. When Arjun Singh later retracted to say that singing Vande Mataram on September 7 was voluntary, not compulsory, it wasn't out of a newly discovered respect for liberal principles, but because of a counter-blast coming from Imam Syed Bukhari. According to Bukhari, Indian Muslims ought to love the nation enough to lay down their lives for it, but it doesn't follow that they should worship the nation, as Vande Mataram enjoins them to do. Bukhari may reprise another oft-played tune — that of Muslim victimization — and his claim to speak on behalf of all Indian Muslims may be questioned.

But shorn of that there is something in his objection to Vande Mataram that Muslims as well as non-Muslims can sympathize with. ( I disagree with this. There is nothing objectionable in Vande Mataram. I, however, object to making it compulsory.)

Worshipping the nation is going to solve few contemporary problems — in fact a narrow view of national interests compounds many of today's crises. Twentieth century nationalism could be out of sync with the requirements of a globalized 21st century. Take greenhouse gases and other forms of environmental pollution, which, by their very nature, transcend national boundaries. Fixing them will require international agreements, but the US bucked the Kyoto Protocol regulating greenhouse gases. The result may be runaway climate change that will affect all countries, the US included. Washington displays similar unilateral inclinations in the war against terror, leading to better coordination between terrorists than the democracies they attack. The WTO cannot take trade liberalization forward due to domestic farmers' lobbies in rich countries. BPOs face similar obstacles. Asia is supposed to be resurgent, but different nationalisms are coming into conflict over Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi's frequent visits to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, commemorating Japan's war dead, never mind that they include some war criminals. While Tokyo takes a hard line on North Korea, Beijing says that any declaration of independence by Taiwan's parliament will trigger an invasion of that country. If conflict breaks out on any of these fronts Asia's resurgence would be over — although the hopeful thing is that the economies of China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are so interdependent as to preclude conflict.

Such interdependence looks threatening to many in India, who evoke an unreflective and overly emotional nationalism as a charm to ward it off.

If we are moved by them India will fail to capitalize on the manifold opportunities that globalization offers, while its destabilizing effects will still be with us.
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