Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is National Anthem in Praise of George V?

Why do we have Jana Gana Mana as our National Anthem? After all according to one school of thought, it was penned to honor the King of England……

As one of my good students has asked me if this is true…… I must confess, I don’t know. But I will quickly add, I don’t care. For me, Jana Gana Mana….. is one piece of verse that stirs up patriotism and nationalistic pride. Imagine, in a world where almost everything we see or hear makes an incremental addition to “our” desires, ambitions, fears, insecurities…… anything that can make me feel good about the country is more than acceptable.

But, It is in honor of an English King!!! One might argue. But then come to think of it, if memory serves me correctly so is the Gateway of India, and half of Lutyen’s Delhi we are so proud of. Would you guys want to pull down the Parliament House too??? After all the British made it to sit there and rule India. Oh!! How about the beautiful Vice Regal Lodge in Shimla???

If I am not wrong, the British occupation of India began when the mughal occupation of India ended and if I am not wrong, mughal occupation lasted longer and they were foreigners. So…….. I guess, Taj Mahal has to go, so does Fatehpur Sikri, the Red Fort…….. we can go on......

Controversies are always there…… about anything and everything. Look into the national anthem, song, animal, flag….. you will find one thing or the other to criticize….. and many do. There was an episode in mid eighties, when a well meaning gentle man filed a PIL to get the name of “Sindh” deleted as it is in Pakistan now….. Then there was a controversy that the national song is actually a religious song and non hindus need not / should not / not made to sing it. Our flag contains green, which is characteristic to a particular religion and if fundamentalists have their way, they will change it to saffron.

My message to my student. I do not know if our national anthem was penned to honor George V. But I know how it feels when you listen to it on Republic Day.

Look at this ad. Try to understand. Respect your national anthem. Respect your nation. Respect yourself.

The Siachen Rendition

The Rehman Version!

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