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Vande Matram: no reason to be sensitive

Apropos Mr. M.H. Lakdawala’s article on Vande Mataram (16-31 August, 2002), I fail to understand why the Muslim Indians continue to permit the Hindu chauvinists to use Vande Mataram to beat Muslims with. Vande Mataram is the national song and if and when it is sung in public, all citizens are expected to stand up, as a mark respect. There is no reason for the Muslim Indians to denigrate it by harping on the old theme. Whatever its context, the stanzas which form the national song were cleared before Independence by a Committee which included Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

But formal occasions begin and end with the national anthem. In Lok Sabha, during the Speakership of Shri Patel, it was decided, despite the protest of several Muslim MPs including myself, that the session should begin with the national anthem and close with the national song. If assemblies and municipal corporations choose to follow this example, there is nothing that the Muslim members can do, expect to stand in silence, if they are present at the closing.

Some government schools in several states have adopted the practice of Saraswati Vandana and worship of Bharat Mata at the beginning of each day. They are far more serious from the Islamic angle. No Muslim child should be coerced into participating in such religious ceremonies. Neither should the state prescribe them as they amount to propagation of Hinduism at state expense. These issues should be agitated in a judicial fora. Instead we go on flogging a dead horse.

Presently, the Muslim Indian face many serious problems and challenges and there is no reason for them to be so sensitive on the question of national song. As for the Hindutva brigade’s offensive slogan campaign, it can be simply ignored.

¯ Syed Shahabuddin 
Ex-MP, President, AIMMM
muslim@del3.vsnl.net.in

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