SYMBOLISM | india | Hindustan Times
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india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 16:11 IST

The Vande Mataram passed off well sung on its questionable centenary day.  A wave of patriotism swept the nation like a gushing wind on September 7. Now the weary nation is looking to other things for a periodic excitement. But the BJP in MP feels once is not enough. It plans to convert the gushing wind into a lingering political breeze with two by- elections in sight. The BJP will launch a three-phase agitation from September 25 with Vande Mataram as its slogan.

A new iconography carved on a Vande Mataram calendar with Mother India holding aloft the saffron flag and a smiling Shivraj Singh Chouhan below portrayed as her son is set to flood the State. BJP’s symbol ‘lotus’ is also abloom in the calendar. The party is geared up to treat the State’s people with yet another curious mix of mythology, ideology and governance. Will it work?

Only time will tell. The past, however, suggests that the BJP could do better without such befuddling symbolism. Members of Hindu pantheon don’t seem to be exactly helpful to the Shivraj Singh Government in any of the schemes They have been either invoked or aligned. Take Jalabhishek scheme for water conservation, for instance.

To begin with, its very nomenclature is confusing. Conventionally, it means offering water to deities like Hindus do Jalabhishek of Lord Shiva’s phallus. But the Government conceived the word to convey water conservation.

Former chief minister Digvijay Singh wonders what was the harm in continuing with the name ‘Pani Roko Abhiyan’ that was launched in his tenure when there was no change in the objective? Semantic quibbling apart, the scheme with all its divine connotation failed to deter the Hindus in the bureaucracy and elected bodies from pocketing money in the name of digging ponds.

The Chief Minister himself was shocked at a reality check of the scheme in Bhind. An angry Chouhan immediately removed the collector and suspended four other officials on finding massive corruption in the scheme during his visit to the district recently.        

‘Kanyadaan’, the CM’s most dear scheme, is communal in name. Marriageable girls are in communities other than Hindus too and their parents too need money to marry them off. Of course, the Government has consciously tried to blunt the communal label on the scheme by doling out money to some tribal and Muslim couples for tying the nuptial knots.

But such attempts would not have been needed in the first place had the Government conceived some non-ritualistic term for the scheme. Despite its communal nomenclature, the ‘Kanyadaan’ scheme has invoked more amusement than outrage.

The Government’s initial gusto for the scheme spawned a variety of bawdy jokes when the Kanyadaan was followed by announcements of ‘God Bharai’ and ‘Anna Prashan’ schemes. Wags wondered mischievously if the Government also plans to finance ‘the act’ that links the first scheme to the second and the third? Incidentally, the other two rituals are also essentially Hindu.

The Government has become butt of avoidable jokes for its attempts to saffronise the school education. It replaced ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ in nursery with more ‘environment-friendly’ rhyme, arguing that tiny tots must learn about things Indian. ‘The Twinkle’, the BJP Government contends, conjures up western sky in the children’s impressionable minds. 

Hence the deletion. For more grown- up children, sacred threat ritualistically worn across the Hindu torso has been offered as an inspiration to go to school. Forget non-Hindus, the ‘Upnayan’ would be a laughable imagery to attract even the most ardent Hindu children to school unless, of course, the Government intends to send them to Gurukuls of ancient India. The imperatives of modern education militate against such obscurantist symbolism.

Similar anachronism marks declaration of Balram Jayanti as Kisan Diwas. In the days when farming is becoming increasingly technology- driven, invoking the image of Lord Krishna’s elder brother holding plough on the shoulder would hardly help the State’s cause.     

Linking Maharshi Dadhichi’s great sacrifice (he offered his bones for Lord Indra to mould the formidable Vajra) with Utthan scheme of the social empowerment department is no less preposterous.