National Anathema

The Sindhi Council of India has moved the Supreme Court opposing a PIL seeking deletion of the word, `Sindh’ from the National Anthem. Any such move would deal a body blow to “seven million Hindu Sindhis” in India who “are creators of wealth and generate employment,” it said.

The above snip taken from the Hindu and a recent flurry of mails on the Technical Writers of India (TWIN) mailing list show just how jobless some people are.

In a country were thousands die of hunger and poverty every year, the very fact that people can discuss the pros and cons of the national anthem is surprising. The thread on TWIN is an old, oft flogged horse. A conversation on whether the “Jana Gana Mana” should remain our national anthem since it was originally intended for King George’s visit.

This preoccupation with our past is the undoing of this country. We still quote our acheivements in terms of Aryabhatta, Ramanujam and Ashoka.

As we reach the billion people mark (or have we crossed it), we seem to be in a constant search for reasons to prove that we still mean something to the world. But that will happen only through acheivements, not by debating whether the national anthem is perfect, or whether the peacock deserves to be the national bird or whether cricket should be named the national game.

If each Indian were to just sit up and carry his weight, by just sheer volume we could move the planet. Instead we prefer to wait for the next man to make the move. We blame the politicians, the teachers, the neighbours, the autorikshaw drivers, everybody but ourselves.

A conversation on the reckless driving by autorikshaws will bring in a near unanimous opinion that autos are the bane on Indian roads. But these very same people will direct the autos to stop on the wrong side of the road or not give directions early enough forcing the autos to drive badly.

It does not take much to tell the driver of the vehicle one is travelling in to drive properly. It does not take much to stand in a queue and wait for one’s chance. It does not take much to allow someone in a real hurry to move ahead. It does not take much to park one’s vehicle in a parking zone. It does not take much to sit down with one’s child and explain civic behaviour. It does not take much to smile at the shop attendant who serves you. It does not take much to wish someone “Good morning” with a smile.

Let us work towards building better “ourselves” and the country will take care of itself. It is only when “we” are not good that the country is in trouble. Then no amount of good anthems, figures and politicians can make it better.

As MJ says, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”.


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