Monday, March 23, 2009

Do You Love Your Nation or Fear Her?

This post was produced by the instant sense of non-sense when I read the news that Sashi Tharoor was summoned by a court for 'insulting' national anthem.

Tharoor, after delivering the Hormis memorial lecture in Kochi in December last year, interrupted the national anthem, urging the audience to place the palm over the heart as people do in US instead of the Indian practice of standing in attention."
When the national anthem of teams are sung before international soccer games I have always observed (some) players keeping their hands on their chests, right above the heart. Think from the player's perspective:
I am going to play for my country. The whole nation is watching me. I want to win this and I want to win this for my country. Ah! My country. You who stood strong even when reeling under pressure from foreign power. You mighty ocean who have given me everything I wanted and made me what I am. I dedicate my life to you."

Now, should this come from mouth or heart? No doubt, right?

Now let us come to India. I have felt it so often that Indians pay huge respect to their national anthem, also national flag, and other national things. It IS due to the unnecessary importance they were given, in the constitution. Respect brings only fear. It do not bring love. If you love your mother, you will not respect her. You will obey her, but you will earnestly try not to. True love and true respect do not go together.
So, if you are showing too much respect to any of the national symbols or your nation, you can't love her.

Not that I am a huge fan of Obama. But he and his nation is so adorable in every field that I can't stop mentioning. The day before Obama was sworn in as the President of The United States Of America (How prestigious does it sound?), there was a celebration. Famous actors, singers, comedians, musicians, dancers, everyone staged wonderful performance to fill the waiting nation with happiness. There was a huge crowd and I still remember one line of what the commentators said during the show:
I have seen even larger crowds, but I have never seen so many smiling faces"
The message is clear. People are so happy with their new president that they are wishing everyone good morning with 3 inch wide smiles. And of course there were stars and stripes being waved everywhere. People and president and what he represents, the nation - so friendly.

Can Indians ever dream of such a day?
Of course we have Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanthi.
But what happens in Independence Day or Republic Day? Children go to school and speak on why we should remember the past leaders and their sacrifices. All government offices hoist the national flag (which unto that day would've been dusting off in the cupboard of the clerk). Police and Army do parades. And not to forget the grand displays at Delhi.

But I love Gandhi Jayanthi more, because, that day, there is no parade. But, there is activity going around everywhere. People feel more united than ever. And most probably they will find themselves together trying to pull of a strong rooted weed. I don't know why. But I like to go school on October the second rather than on August 15th or January 26th. May be because I love creativity more than protocol, or I love celebrating more than witnessing. But I love Gandhi Jayanthi.

Now, that brings us back to the question. Do we love our nation or fear her? Why can't we walk forth everyday with the tricolour? Why can't we sing national anthem lying on the bed with utmost love towards the nation in our mind? Why can't we just love our nation and get rid off all these unnecessary codes?

Example: we need to stand in attention during National Anthem and nothing else. So Sashi Tharoor is called up by the court. Right that he should not have urged the people to imitate him, but can we say that he shouldn't have kept his palm on his chest? Is it an insult to the national anthem or greater love to the nation. And more; if Tharoor is punished then another popular person too must be - Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. I have seen him several times, during national anthem not in attention, but with his hands before his body like a nude man covering his private parts. Does he not deserve higher punishment that Tharoor deserves? Answer: To be punished is neither of them, but the man who framed the laws regarding the use of national flag, anthem, etc.

Love, expressed in any form is love itself.

So the final question is
What do we need - a billion salutes or a billion kisses?

Note: If you are going to comment like "So, we can jump up and down the next time we hear national anthem", you needn't please do so.

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