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Religion, politics are best apart

india Updated: Aug 29, 2006 14:36 IST
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The issue of whether the singing of Vande Mataram be made optional in schools has erupted into yet another show of majority versus minority debate.

And clearly there are no easy answers.

Here's a sample of responses we received on the topic.

Tariq Kalim of Muscat, Oman, felt this was an open and shut case of exploiting religion for political reasons. Here's what he said.

"It is very depressing to see political parties without any exception playing the vote-bank politics. The live issue at the moment is regarding the national song.

"Let us understand one thing, Indians - be it Hindus, Muslims, Christians or any other religion - are sentimentally rooted to their beliefs and traditions, not to mention that vast masses are un-educated or less educated."

"This is a deadly combination that can be used in ways that could be good or bad for the country."

"In the game of politics our leaders can do anything for their selfish gains. In doing so they don't care for the country, they don't care for any religion and they don't care for the Indians."

"What they care is ensuring that they have a secure vote bank even if it is achieved by polluting and polarising the masses."

"Few elections back, the Ram temple issue was used with great success. At that time few could see the real motive. Out of those few a sizeable section still preferred to willingly go along because of their religious beliefs. Are we any better off today except for the fact that Babri Masjid has been demolished?"

"To be honest, till this issue was racked-up, I didn't even know that Babri Masjid existed. I am sure most Hindus wouldn't have known the exact spot where Ram was born."

"Under the circumstances, if there was a great sentimentality involved and the real reason was to have a temple at that spot, ideal situation would have been to resolve the issue locally involving only 'non-political reasonable Hindus' with 'non-political reasonable Muslims'."

"Shifting of mosques is always possible and could have been done. But the moment all out efforts were made to popularise the issue, the real agenda was clear - it was politics and not religion."

"With all parties gearing up for the next elections, the political think tanks have now generated the issue of national song. It is almost 60 years since independence. As an Indian we are all proud of our country, the Flag, the Anthem, the Song, and above all the values."

"During these sixty years, how many people have caused disrespect to these national symbols? Even if in future there is any instance of disrespect as an Indian I strongly believe the guilty should not go unpunished. I am sure all Indians will share these sentiments."

"So what are we trying to achieve by raking-up this issue?"

"With the issue gaining publicity the polarisation of vote banks has started. Good thing is that this time a greater percentage understands the real agenda. But that is not enough. We as Indians for the sake of India have to be more vocal and assertive. Even if one person can convince one other person the percentage of more aware people will increase."

"Only when this percentage reaches the threshold point will the political parties think of focusing on real national issues rather than these selfish self-generated issues."

Irshad of Hyderabad, India presented a more traditional picture of much-talked about Hindu-Muslim divide.

"Well, if Mr Jinnah said something and if it was right, then just because he along with RSS was the cause of partition, shall we refuse to accept the truth?"

"Let's be clear, in Islam, a Muslim is not allowed to bow, worship or say the words which are in any way related to worshipping any other than the Almighty. If someone does it is his stand but to enforce everyone to do it, when there is no consensus, will be the death of freedom."

"Why insist on singing this song if it causes some sort of trouble? We've heard so many slogans but is it justified? It has been a fashion to brand someone (mainly Muslims) as anti-national if they don't agree with the so-called nationalists."

"It must not be the yardstick to measure the faithful. Better live and let live others peacefully."

Not all were opposed to the idea of the national song being compulsory.

"Those who dis-respect 'Vande Mataram' they should be identified and forced to respect. Otherwise they must be declared as 'anti-national' and forced to quit India," said Ashish from Guwahati in India.

Virendra from Pune, India felt the national song was a beautiful song meant to pay respect to our motherland and that Arjun Singh was busy playing the communal card.

"Vande Mataram is one the most beautiful song ever composed. It has been national song of India right through the independence/national movement."

"The Indian National Congress party of today has followed the policy of divide and rule capable of doing any thing to capture or stay in power. People like Arjun Singh are the biggest traitors."

"So let them go to hell and let us all sing 'Vande Mataram' and pay our most heart-felt and warmest homage to our beloved country."

Thomas of Dubai, UAE gave a very plausible view.

"I don't think forcing anyone to sing 'Vande Mantaram' will show respect to the song. I don't know why this controversy has come up at all. In my school days this song was sung by all the students irrespective of their religion. I think it is still being done. Why then use force? Take the case of the making Hindi compulsory in South India way back in 70-80s. There was a big hue and cry."

"Now that there is no compulsion, there are more people talking and learning Hindi. Rather than raking up such issues which create unnecessary controversies (which the so-called religious leaders are waiting to take advantage off), why don't we bring up issues like making education compulsory?"

"Don't force anything down anybody's throat. It will just have the opposite effect."

Now, in our poll section we asked our surfers whether everyone should be forced to sing "Vande Mataram" to show respect to the national song.

Shaema of Hyderabad, India was not at all impressed at the results it threw. Here's how she put it.

"These results of the poll (Yes - 74.86 %, No - 24.58 % and can't say - 00.56%) are alarming for India. It clearly shows that a vast majority wants to forcefully impose their ideology on those who will never sing 'Vande Mataram'."

"Are we heading for a Lebanon or an Iraq? If yes, then the majority has to lose more than the minority. It's your call!"

Jeo Lal Sethi from Bangkok, Thailand put it rather straight.

"National unity is above all."

SM Bombwal from Gurgaon, India felt the national song symbolised Indianess. Therefore, it ought to be sung.

"'Vande Mataram' is like an Indian passport that you must possess if travelling abroad. Singing it shows your love of country and entitlement to live in India. Not singing it is like fore-saking your passport thus the nationality and citizenship."

Clearly there are no easy answers.

Disclaimer
All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfers and do not necessarily represent those of HindustanTimes.com.

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