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Vande Matharam not for PM functions?

By: V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.
Feb-10-2010
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It is now "very clear" that the singing of the National Anthem will be officially avoided at all Government of India functions in which our Prime Minister is going to participate. Our Prime Minister had recently gone to Thiruvananthapuram to participate in the inaugural session of the 97th Indian Science Congress. The local organisers had planned and rehearsed the National Anthem for the Science Congress. However, the Government of India officials who had come to review security and other arrangements the previous day, "clipped the National Anthem from the order of events", CITING A DIRECTIVE from the ever-neutral Prime Minister"s Office.

It is a matter of National shame and dishonour to know the background for this decision. It seems that such a fateful decision was taken as there were instances when the audience did not pay full respect to the National Anthem by either refusing to stand up or stand in attention when it was played. It was following such reports that it was decided to exclude the National Anthem from the PM"s public functions rather than play it and allowing it to be insulted under officially uncontrollable situations.

P Parameswaran who is the President of Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee, Kanyakumari and Director of Bharateeya Vichara Kendram, Thiruvananthapuram has given me shocking news to the fact that Shashi Tharoor, Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram and Union Minister of State for External Affairs delivered a speech at a public function in the CSI Church premises in Thiruvananthapuram in November 2009 in which he had stated that the singing of Vande Matharam, the Officially approved National Song of India, is purely a matter of personal choice, to be left to the sweet will and pleasure of the person concerned. The same view was also taken by the Union Minister Arjun Singh in 2006.

Decided only to be undecided, resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity only to be politically impotent, such a Prime Minister officially avoided the National Anthem at the Science Congress held in the first week of January 2010 at Thiruvananthapuram. The Union Minister of State Shashi Tharoor officially exhorted the people present at a public function at Thiruvananthapuram to keep in mind the fact that the singing of Vande Mataram - the National Song - is a purely voluntary, optional affair, totally subject to the whims and caprices of individual citizens, rather than a sacred, patriotic and emotionally stirring national duty! We can see from the postures of our Prime Minister towards our National Anthem and of Shashi Tharoor to the singing of Vande Mataram that the UPA government is steeped in self-chosen conceptual confusion on all vital national issues which have been settled once for all by the Founding Fathers of our Constitution.

Dr Rajendra Prasad, while presiding over the Constituent Assembly on 24 January, 1950, made the following statement which was also adopted as the basis for the final decision on the issue:

"The composition consisting of words and music known as JANA GANA MANA is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations as the Government may authorise as occasion arises, and the song VANDE MATARAM, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honored equally with Jana Gana Mana and SHALL HAVE EQUAL STATUS WITH IT. (Applause) I hope this will satisfy members." (Constituent Assembly of India, Vol. XII, 24-1-1950)"

Even before our Prime Minister had officially chosen to ignore the National Anthem at Thiruvananthapuram in January 2010, Shashi Tharoor, MP and Union Minister of State for External Affairs had officially prepared the ground in November 2009 when he told an audience at Thiruvananthapuram that the singing of Vande Mataram - the National Song - is purely optional.

P Parameswaran sent a letter to Shashi Tharoor on 17-11-2009. Portions of it are worth quoting in the larger public and national interests:
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"Respected Shashi Tharoor,

Namaskar

"Mathrubhumi" the popular Malayalam daily dated 16-11-2009, carried prominently a news item with the title "Vande Matharam need not be sung". It was part of the speech, which you delivered at a gathering in the premises of the CSI church, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram. You are reported to have stated that singing of Vande Matharam is purely a matter of personal choice, left to the sweet will and pleasure of the person concerned. At first I was literally shocked and could hardly believe that the MP representing this enlightened capital city of Kerala could have made such a statement. I made enquires and got confirmed that it was a verbatim report of the speech you made at the church premises. I am also told that it was a suo motto statement without any provocation or to clarify any point and therefore quiet unwarranted. It has no justification what so ever.

Our constitution is very clear on the point that Vande Matharam is our National song having equal status with our National Anthem. Therefore it goes without saying that every citizen is supposed to pay due respect by singing it without any reservation.

I understand that of late there have been some negative voices regarding singing Vande Matharam among some communal circles. But that is not a justification for a Congress MP and a Central Minister to come out with a public statement endorsing such sentiments, which lowers the status and dignity of Vande Matharam. On the other hand I sincerely feel that it was your duty to create a congenial atmosphere in favour of Vande Matharam by using your good will and also your authority. You have done just the opposite.

Any student of India"s freedom movement knows pretty well the historic role played by Vande Matharam. In the year 1905, Lord Curson, the then Viceroy of India, made a declaration partitioning Bengal into West Bengal and East Bengal, basically on communal (Hindu and Muslim ) consideration. The entire Bengal rose up against the partition. There was an upsurge of nationalist feeling, which engulfed, not only Bengal, but the whole of India. It was the song Vande Matharam, publicly led by great men like Ravindra Natha Tagore which inspired the people to fight against the colonial dictate. Many of them laid down their lives singing this patriotic song. Ultimately the haughty Viceroy had to eat the humble pie and withdraw the declaration of partition. ."

After freedom and adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of India , which gave equal status to both Janaganamana and Vande Matharam, the demand now is being made from religious obscurantists to give up the great song , which expresses the spirit and soul of Bharat in toto. I am sure, any sign of weakness and any further compromise on this is bound to lead, to further weakening of the national fabric and accentuate dangerous divisive forces. It will be suicidal for India.

It is against this historical background, that I make bold to say that your public statement on Vande Matharam is nothing short of denigrating this symbol of nationalism and also questioning the validity of the relevant constitutional provision. As a Central minister, who has taken the oath promising to defend the constitution of the country, it is my firm view that you have acted against the spirit of the constitution and your own solemn oath. .

I WISH AND HOPE THAT YOU WILL MAKE A PUBLIC STATEMENT EXPRESSING YOUR REGRETS FOR THIS UNWARRANTED AND OBJECTIONABLE STATEMENT."
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The Union Minister has not even bothered to send a reply to Parameswaran, one of the senior most and respected Hindu leaders in Kerala today. Taking note of this attitude of this Union Minister, Parameswaran wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India on 10 December 2009 inviting his attention to the conduct of Shashi Tharoor. I am quoting below the relevant excerpts from this letter:

"This is to invite your kind attention to a serious lapse, bordering on the violation of the ministerial oath, taken by Shri. Shasi Tharoor, Hon ble Minister for State, External Affairs, in a public speech organized by the Church of South India, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 15/11/2009. The Hon"ble Minister made a suo motto statement. ". The national song, like the national sport, is optional. Sing it out of respect for the mother land. Do not sing it if you do not want to. No one forces you" (Times of India). Such a statement is derogatory and denigrating Vande Mataram which has been accorded equal status with "Janaganamana", our National Anthem."

As a post script (PS) his letter to the PM, Parameswaran also added that: "It is extremely regrettable, and throws very bad light on the minister, that even though I had written a personal letter (copy enclosed) to him about the matter on 17/11/2009, he has not yet shown the elementary courtesy of even acknowledging the same. A member of Parliament is expected to behave better and be more responsible to public institutions and personalities."

Shashi Tharoor, the Union Minister cavalierly trampled upon the soul of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee with pseudo-secular enthusiasm at Thiruvananthapuram in November 2009 by saying that the singing of Vande Mataram is purely voluntary and optional. A month later in January 2010, the "Minority First" Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh tortured the soul of Rabindranath Tagore at the Indian Science Congress by officially by-passing the National Anthem. Thus the UPA has outraged the modesty of Bharat Mata.

In these columns I had narrated the shameful story of how the Union Minister of State for External Affairs hashi Tharoor showed his contempt for Bankim Chandra Chatterji"s "heathenish and paganish" National Song "Vande Mataram".

Lest Tharoor should shine in solitary splendour, our "neutral" between Neutrals Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh outclassed him within 50 days by dropping the singing of National Anthem "Jana Gana Mana" by Rabindranath Tagore at the official function of the Indian Science Congress held in Thiruvananthapuram in the first week of January 2010. This diktat from the PMO runs counter to long-established tradition of Official Protocol regarding the playing of National Anthem at functions attended by the Prime Minister or the President of India.

When the Muslim clerics in India today dismiss the sacred National Song of Vande Mataram with scorn and contempt, we should not forget the fact that their spiritual and cultural progenitor in this sordid drama was Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar (1878-1931) who was the most important Muslim leader in the days of the Khillafat Movement immediately after World War I. Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar paid his Islamic tribute to Maha-Kafir Mahatma Gandhi in these immortal words: "However pure Gandhiji"s character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character. Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mahatma Gandhi". All this he said in 1921. It has to be borne in mind that Mahatma Gandhi was the President of the Khilafat Movement at that time.

Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar who had thus politically stabbed Mahatma Gandhi in the back even in the days of the Khillafat Movement was given the supreme honour of presiding over the Kakinada Session of the Congress in 1923. It was in that Session THAT THE FIRST ISLAMIC BLOW WAS STRUCK AT THE NATIONAL SONG OF INDIA, "VANDE MATARAM" BY THE CONGRESS PRESIDENT MAULANA MOHAMMAD ALI JAUHAR HIMSELF. During those years, (particularly from 1917 to 1922) the reputed singer and patriot Vishnu Digambar Paluskar of Maharashtra used to sway the inaugural session of Congress with his deep and resonant singing of "Vande Mataram" song. However, when Paluskar came on the dais to sing at the Kakinada Session in 1923, he was stopped by the President Maulana Mohammed Ali. The Maulana exclaimed that singing of music was taboo in Islam and as such he would not permit it. The entire Assembly was stunned; everyone, including the top leaders and stalwarts adorning the dais like Mahatma Gandhi, Madan Mohan Malaviya, and others sat dumbstruck, unable to think of a proper reply or retort to the Congress President. Paluskar, however stuck to his post of duty.

In a voice filled with righteous indignation he retorted to the Maulana: "The Indian National Congress is not the monopoly of any one particular sect nor is this place a mosque, where singing could be prohibited. You have therefore no authority to prevent me from singing VANDE MATARAM. Moreover, if singing in this place is against your particular religion, HOW IS IT YOU COULD TOLERATE MUSIC IN YOUR PRESIDENTIAL PROCESSION?" This infamous tradition established by Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar in 1923 was continued by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Party and this tradition continues even today.

The next stage in the strenuous and tortured story of "Vande Mataram" was reached in 1937 when Congress Party formed the Government in seven Provinces under the Government of India Act of 1935. In keeping with its past tradition, the Congress Party began commencing the Provincial Assembly proceedings with the singing of VANDE MATARAM. The Muslim League, equally true to its separatist Maulana tradition declared war against it. The League Members in the various Provincial Legislative Assemblies raised a storm of protest and staged walk-outs. The Muslim League conducted its session earlier and denounced Congress-ruled States as "HINDU STATES". And the weightiest testimony it adduced was the singing of the VANDE MATARAM in the PROVINCIAL Assemblies!!

The Muslim League condemned the Congress for imposing "VANDE MATARAM as the national anthem upon the country" and termed it as "callous, positively anti-Islamic, idolatrous in its inspiration and ideas, and definitely subversive of the growth of genuine nationalism in India". The MUSLIM LEAGUE further called upon "MUSLIM MEMBERS OF VARIOUS LEGISLATURES AND PUBLIC BODIES IN THE COUNTRY NOT TO ASSOCIATE THEMSELVES IN ANY MANNER WITH THIS HIGHLY OBJECTIONABLE SONG".

H V Sheshadri has brilliantly summed up the ideological surrender of the Congress party to the machinations of the Muslim League in 1937: "When the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met a few days later, it was haunted by the spectre of the Muslim League"s opposition and formulated ITS POLICY ON "MINORITY RIGHTS". If HINDU-MUSLIM unity "without which the British would not part with power" was to be achieved, the Muslims should not, AT ANY COST (of course only to the Hindus of India!!), be allowed to feel displeased. Their sentiments should never be injured, for whatever reason. Accordingly, the Congress decided to "cut out" those portions of "Vande Mataram" which were likely to offend the Muslim susceptibilities as indicated in the Muslim League"s resolution. Only the first two stanzas of the song depicting the physical picture of the motherland-were retained and the rest "dropped". INDEED, IT WAS IN THOSE SUBSEQUENT STANZAS THAT THE REAL ESSENCE OF OUR NATIONALISM AND THE SPIRIT OF THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE WERE ENSHRINED."

I have carefully scrutinized the pro-Islamic and patently anti-Hindu 1937 Congress Working Committee Resolution on "Bande Mataram". I am quoting below the relevant excerpts from that Resolution to prove my point:

"A controversy having recently arisen about the Bande Mataram song, the Working Committee desire to explain the significance of this song. . During the past thirty years, innumerable instances of sacrifices and suffering all over the country have been associated with "Bande Mataram" and men and women have not hesitated to face death even with that cry on their lips. The song and the words thus became symbols of national resistance to British imperialism in Bengal especially and generally in other parts of India. The words "Bande Mataram" became a slogan of power which inspired our people, and a greeting which ever reminds us of our struggle for national freedom."

"Gradually the use of the song spread to other provinces and a certain national significance began to attach to them. The rest of the song was very seldom used and is even now known by few persons. These two stanzas described in tender language the beauty of the motherland and the abundance of her gifts. There was absolutely nothing in them to which objections could be taken from the religious or other point of view. The song was never sung as a challenge to any group or community in India and was never considered as such or offending the sentiments of any community. Indeed the reference in it to thirty crores of Indians makes it clear that it was meant to apply to all the people of India. . The Working Committee feel that past associations, with their long record of suffering for the cause, a well as popular usage, have made the first two stanzas of this song a living and inseparable part of our national movement and as such they must command our affection and respect. There is nothing in these stanzas to which any one can take exception. The other stanzas of this song are little known and hardly ever sung. ."
"The Committee recognize the validity of objections raised by Muslim friends to certain parts of the song. While the Committee have taken note of the objection in so far as it has intrinsic value, the Committee wish to point out that the modern evolution of the use of the song as part of national life is of infinitely greater importance than its setting in a historical novel before the national movement had taken shape. ."

"But while there can be no question about the place that "Bande Mataram" has come to occupy in the national life, the same cannot be said as to the other songs. ."

Thus the Congress party laid the cultural, religious and ideological foundation for the communal partition of India as early as in 1937, by abjectly surrendering to the black-mailing tactics of the Muslim League in 1937 by tearing apart the "Vande Mataram" Song on communal grounds and dishonouring Bharat Mata with pseudo-secular fervour and passion. This task begun in 1937 was completed by Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru in 1947. Today the Imam of Jamma Masjid and the other Muslim Clerics are asking the Congress Party to give up even the so called "secular portions" of Vande Mataram as identified by the Congress Party in 1937.

I have already referred to the abusive language used by Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar against Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. The British Government at that time rightly viewed him as an international Islamic terrorist and jailed him. Such a back-stabbing Muslim fanatic who heaped his Islamic abuse on Mahatma Gandhi was honoured by the Government of India by the issue of a postage stamp on the occasion of his Birth Centenary in 1978.


V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.

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