Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Delete 'Sindh' in 'Jana Gana Mana'?

Delete 'Sindh' in 'Jana Gana Mana'?

The Supreme Court (I got angry - but don't want to vent all my anger for fear of contempt of court) wants to delete Sindh from the National Anthem "jana gaNa mana". The "offending" line is "panjAba-sindhu-gujarAta-marATha-drAviDa-utkala-vanga".
India has been independent for more than 50 years now. Why now the sudden need to change this line ? Sindh was gone from India before this song was officially chosen as the National Anthem of India. Why did they not change this before ? Why is it only now ?

The obvious reason for this is that the Sind province is no longer in India - but in Pakistan and since the National Anthem must contain only places within India, Sindh would have to be deleted. Poor Rabindranath Tagore must be weeping in heaven (the term 'turning in his grave' won't work here as we know that he was cremated).

The National Anthem gives us an idea of how India was in those days. I, for one, don't like it as India's national anthem was written to welcome George V (the then King of Britain) to India. It praises George V as - jana-gaNa-mana-adhinAyaka - the Lord of the minds of the teeming masses. This can now be re-interpreted as something like "the spirit of India" or God or something like that. The reason for its composition itself is reason enough to not use this as our Anthem. Vande Mataram is a more apt choice, but some darned irrational pseudo-secularists object because it has obvious references to Hindu Deities. The complete song has - tumi durga tumi dharma tumi hRudi tumi marma. Vande Mataram - the slogan that galvanised millions to the cause of Indian Independence had been discarded in favor of a mediocre poem (RN Tagore has written far better poems than this) that smacks of servile praise of one's colonial master. India as a free country should not be subjected to such nonsense. Anyway, this poem is worse than "God save the queen" (or king) as at least there - you are appealing to a higher power. But in our Anthem - the sovereign is appealed to - "tava shubha nAme gAhe - tava shubha Ashisha mAnge' - your glorious name is sung and your auspicious blessings are sought - by the states of punjab,sindh, gujarat...... Mother India, I think, weeps everytime She listens to this effusive praise unbefitting any mortal.

Even though I don't like it personally, I stand up everytime it is sung for it denotes my country. Respecting the anthem is respecting the country. Anyway, this song still has a good thing in its favor of depicting history and reminding us everyday of the horrors of Partition. Because - when somebody sings PanjAba-sindhu.... , an inquisitive child may ask - "but sind is in Pakistan - how can we sing about it ? " That gives us a unique opportunity of explaining to it the history of India and its national anthem and why Sind is no longer in India. Removing Sindh is tantamount to obliterating and expunging this fact from public knowledge. History should be remembered - so that we don't go wrong again in the future. The National anthem for all its flaws reminded us of that. Now our government itself is directing us to remove Sindh from the anthem. What a sorry state of affairs!

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