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Unanswered Questions and Unasked for Answers New Indian Express, Nov 11, 2009
R. Vaidyanathan Professor IIMB, Bangalore We in the academic professions many a time tell our students that unasked for answers are not substitutes for unanswered questions. The article by A Fazlur Rahman [11-11-09] to an earlier one by S. Gurumurthy [09-11-09] exactly falls under this category. The issues raised in the original article are four fold. Does the Home Minster of this country agree with the resolution by the convention supporting the fatwa by the Deoband seminary directing the community not to sing the national song? Second is the Deoband assertion that it had not issued any fatwa against vande mataram singing or asked children to skip classes on the issue on September 7, 2007 [] It also asserted that --it had steered clear of the issue, saying it has no 'role to play' in the controversy and it has been dragged into it 'unnecessarily'.-If that is so in 2007, then how come in 2009 the song has become a threat to monotheism? Third issue is Sikhs / Christians etc do sing it and there is no ecclesiastical order or Hukumnama against it. Actually during the freedom struggle it was extensively used by Sikh freedom fighters. Fourth issue is that the constituent assembly of India on 24th January 1950 has unambiguously and unequivocally adopted the resolution stating that the national song and national Anthem are of equal status and every member of constituent assemblyincluding the members belonging to Islam religion- endorsed it. But the fudged article by Fazlur Rahman does not answer or give proper responses to any of these specific points and unambiguous questions and issues. Instead he goes on a tangent like a politician when the issues raised are grave and needs substantial consideration. And like a politicians he also adopts the strategy of abusing the author as a substitution for answering serious issues. Let us face the fact that the controversy on the national song did not start in 2007 with Arjun Singhs decision to celebrate the centenary of the song as suggested by Rahman. The controversy is pre-independence and as early as thirties and it was used by the political leaders of Muslim league to create divisions. That time it was not about- vande but about the song itself. The controversy is not called for since in many Gulf countries Salutations are offered to the Respected Amirs and Sheiks. In conferences in many of these countries [where the author was present] the audience stands up when the King or Amir or Prince enters the hall. If that is not showing reverence and salutations then what it is?

2 The controversy is just a simulated one. These are some issues which are called Ambient Conflicts. It is like the burning coal kept with covered by ash. It is neither glowing high nor fully put off. But as when required by politicians this coal covered with ash is puffed through a pipe to kindle it and make it big. In Tamil Nadu the Hindi issue and Srilankan Tamil issue belongs to this genre. Same is the story of Vande. Marriage laws or Vande matharam or educational reforms or mother tongue issue any subject can be kindled suddenly to make it a major issue. Hence the political contours become obvious when we look at the way these issues are suddenly brought to light. And it is an existential reality that we do have large group of different set of believers in every context in our country. For instance it is easy for Raj Thakery to raise the banner of Marathi Manoos to hit at his opponents and easier still for some Tamil groups to abuse policies of Central government as that of Aryan conspiracy Similar fashion our politicians belonging to some Islamic factions periodically bring up this Vande Matharam issue to achieve some political gains. Otherwise we cannot provide adequate justification for not making it an issue in 2007 but making it big in 2009. Forget about the meaning of Vandemillions of Indians have gone to jail and shed blood singing this song during our freedom struggle. Unfortunately or calculatedly the Jinnah and the politicians and groups he nurtured did not see the interior of any jail during our freedom struggle. From that point of view it is required for all to stop this controversy since it belittles the sacrifices of the millions who went to jail and suffered under the British. At least they and their memories require salutations from our heart. And their martyrdom cannot go waste in the midst of these futile controversies about what does Vande means. Dont we know it after sixty years of our freedom and more than hundred years of the song? Some leaders want a group of Sanskrit/Hindi/Urdu scholars to be assembled to find the etymology on Vande. Shame unto all of us. Where have we reached? Do we mean millions of Indians went to gallows and jails uttering this song in their hearts and lips without knowing the meaning? This Sarkari commission to investigate /study and analyze the etymology of Vande is going to solve all problems? Whom are we kidding? The committee members may want to visit all the countries of the world to study the contemporary practices in chanting national songs. As it is always told --you cannot wake up a man who is awake. When politics takes primary role in dealing with national symbols and the martyrs of our freedom movement one can only saycan we stoop any further?

It is imperative that media both print electronic do not give significance to these objections since they are political and kindled on occasions to test political waters. Thankfully millions and millions of our country were/ are inspired by the extraordinary song of Bankim Chandra and it will reverberate in the heart and lips of every Indian for centuries to come. More importantly the four issues raised by the original article need serious deliberations. _____________ The author is Professor -Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore. The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organization.