Monday, 18 January, 2010 ,
V SUNDARAM firstname.lastname@example.org
It is now ‘very clear’ that the singing of the National Anthem will be offi cially 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.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
(1838 - 1894)
(1861 - 1941)
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, President of Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee,Kanyakumari and Director of Bharateeya Vichara Kendram, Thiruvananthaouram
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:
|Dr Rajendra Prasad|
‘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:
‘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.’
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.
(To be continued)
(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
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