In Telangana, a town that stands still for the national anthem every morning
A speck of a town in Telangana’s Karimnagar district some 220 km from Hyderabad, Jammikunta is getting used to coming to a complete halt for 52 seconds every day at the stroke of 8am.
Beginning this Independence Day, loudspeakers have begun to play the national anthem across the town requiring residents to stop in their tracks and stand in attention in respect of the anthem instead. On Tuesday when the initiative was launched, the response was said to be overwhelmingly positive. Local police officials said even beggars stood up and passing truck drivers switched off their vehicles as Jana Gana Mana was played.
A brainchild of Pingili Prashant Reddy, the town police inspector, the initiative is to inculcate nationalist fervor. “There was no better occasion than Independence Day to start this initiative, which will be a permanent practice in the town from now on. I hope it spreads from here to others parts of the district, then the state, and finally the entire country,” Reddy told HT.
Not everyone is impressed though. While some residents, wishing to stay anonymous, said the initiative smacked of a ‘saffron agenda’ and was a ploy to divert attention from corrupt practices of the police, a local politician alleged it could be a case of overkill. “It may look inspiring to sing the anthem daily, but people might lose interest gradually and that would be more disrespectful to the national anthem,” he said.
But the criticism nothwithstanding, the initiative blessed by VB Kamalasan Reddy, the police commissioner for Karimnagar district, got off to a colourful start. Loudspeakers to relay the national anthem have been put up at 16 spots across the town. Its launch was preceded by a week’s awareness drive involving posters and graffitis, exhorting people to respect the anthem.
“People get up late even on Independence Day and cannot even recite the anthem. I got this idea so that people can develop a patriotic sentiment,” police inspector Reddy claimed.
So to make people patriotic, the loudspeakers in Jammikunta are crackling to life sharp at 7.58am for the last two days, alerting the public in Telugu and Hindi about the national anthem to follow soon. Once the anthem is played, patriotic songs take over and the town springs back to life again, shedding its two-minute pause.