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Vande Mataram Controversy:EXPOSE DUPLICITY OF JAMAIT, by Dr. Nitish Sengupta,25 November 2009 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 25 November 2009

Vande Mataram Controversy


By Dr. Nitish Sengupta

(Former MP and Secretary, Finance (Revenue, Govt of India)

One strongly suspects that anti-national forces have manipulated the recent resolution of the Jamait Ulemai-i-Hind asking the Muslims of India not to sing the national song, Vande Mataram, even in its translated official version, on the ground that it is un Islamic. Thereby the mullahs, who assembled at the organisation’s 30th session recently, disowned nearly a century of the history of this song, its role in inspiring several generations of freedom fighters, including so many Muslims, who braved police bullets and lathi charges and courted imprisonment or laid down their lives for securing India’s freedom. Tragically, they sought to carve out a separate identity for the Indian Muslim community away from the national identity, which is the proud inheritance of every Indian, irrespective of his religious affiliation.

The devious manner in which they tried to seek respectability and legitimacy by the presence of Union Home Minister Chidambaram, at the Deoband meeting, without informing him about the outrageous resolutions they were going to pass, or had already passed, before he arrived to address the gathering, is all the more reprehensible.  Obviously he was not aware of this. Had he been so, he would no doubt have condemned the Jamait’s denigration of the national song with his characteristic plain speaking. But one wonders what the I.B was doing to keep tab on the Jamait’s intention and to brief the Minister about it before hand? This failure to do so is yet another instance of the I.B’s slipshod working in recent times.

It is good to recall Vande Mataram’s glorious association with India’s freedom movement, both as a song and as the originator of the slogan Vande Mataram, which became the battle cry for India’s freedom fighters, the various all India movements against the British Raj in 1905-07, in 1919-21, in 1931 and in 1942. True, that the original song in Bankim Chandra’s novel Anand Math has some stanzas where our motherland is compared to goddess Durga and, to that extent, orthodox Muslims had some objection to these stanzas which offended their sentiment against idolatry. But our national leaders were aware of this, and that is why they omitted over half of the original song, and selected only a few preliminary stanzas which describe India’s natural beauty.  Vande Mataram need not even be translated as “we worship our mother” but as “we pay homage to our motherland”.

It is this truncated version, fully responsive to Muslim sentiment, which was adopted by the Indian National Congress as our national song. It was this which was sung at the annual sessions of the Congress. On one occasion Rabindranath sang this. There are eyewitness reports that during the two decades, when M. A. Jinnah was a prominent Congress leader, he would dutifully stand up whenever this song was sung to show respect to the national song. When the Constituent Assembly had to choose a national anthem they chose ‘Jana Gana Mana’ in preference to Vande Mataram simply because the former song was found more suitable to be played on the orchestra, and not for any other reason.

But our Constitution says that Vande Mataram will be given equal position as that of our National Anthem. A tradition has developed that whenever a Parliament session ends Vande Mataram is played on the orchestra. In the context of all this, the mischievous efforts by the Jamait and the Darul Ulum to revive a controversy that is dead, must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. 

The mental attitude displayed by the Jamait seeks to repudiate the glorious traditions of Islam such as the policy of rulers like Akbar, who tried to build all subjects, Hindus and Muslims into a common nationalism with loyalty to the national monarchy. Islam in India, as in several other countries, built up a tradition of tolerance, equality and finer sensibility. It was the advent of Wahabis in Arabia in the last century, and the attitude that they tried to cultivate amongst Muslims, which is the villain of the piece. 

Noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, whose statements are not normally taken seriously by sensible  people, made a very rational comment about how Islam’s earlier tradition of Sufism and tolerance was subverted by the advent of the Wahabi movement from Arabia in the last century. It preaches to all Muslims to hate all other non-believers, to subjugate them and convert them to Islam, if possible, and create a whole generation of die hard orthodox jehadi people, led by mad persons like Osama bin Laden.

This tradition has to be fought with all our might and bulk of the Muslims gradually won over back to the earlier tradition of Sufism. They should be taught not to hate all others, but to love and treat them as equal citizens in the kingdom of God.  All the nonsense which the Jamait have been fed with, like the belief that if they die in jehadi action they will go to heaven and will have company of good looking huris, must be fought with all our might, particularly among Indian Muslims.  There is no dearth of liberal, peace loving and god fearing Muslims who generally like equal treatment to all others

There are already vigorous protests from Muslim organizations, as also individual Muslims. In Bhopal some Muslims have openly challenged them. Osam Khurram, Chairman, All India Muslim Tahwar Committee, has described Vande Mataram as patriotic and not un-Islamic and also announced that he would sing it in front of the State Assembly. He has also pointed to Muslims like Ashfaqullah, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi or Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani who have laid down their lives singing Vande Mataram.  Such protests are rising every day. 

But stronger action from the Government is called for, action in winning over the moderate Muslims into the true teachings of the Quran far away from the fundamentalists who are poisoning the minds of the young generation of Muslims. And also deterrent action against all those who preach jehad against non-believers as the only legitimate duty of the true Muslims, contrary to primitive Islam. Also, the mischievous duplicity of the Jamait mullahs should be exposed and condemned. We cannot forget the glorious traditions of our freedom movement including the accepted version of Vande Mataram for the sake of vote bank politics, which is the regrettable objective of the Jamait.  ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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