Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Vande Mataram – Uncalled For Discordant Notes

It is astonishing and deplorable to see, how a National Song that should hold most prized place in every citizen’s heart renders itself to furore and passionate polarized views by diverse political parties and communities.

The issue gained prominence in the wake of the statement by Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari that singing of Vande Mataram is anti-islamic and amounts to suppression of the Muslim community. Very recently, there have been reports of Muslim leaders in Hyderabad issuing ‘fatwas’ against singing of the song by Muslims. Soon after Bukhari’s comments, the ruling Congress party was quick to address the ‘concerns’ of aggrieved community with HRD Minister Arjun Singh and Information & Broadcasting Minister Mr. Priyaranjan Das Munshi stating that singing of the song can not be imposed against the will of the community and need not be made compulsory for recitation.

The comments by the respectable Ministers have raised a furore and the ongoing Parliament session witnessed justified protests lead notably by BJP and its allies. The stand of the ruling Government on the issue, smacks of political opportunity and indulgence in appeasement of Muslim community. It is unfortunate and deplorable to see the song of the motherland being dragged in to mud slinging and tossed irreverently for want of true national pride and spirit. The blame for the unrest and undignified stand taken by the community rests squarely with religious leaders like Bukari and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. It clearly indicates to a sinister evil design on the part of these ‘Leaders’ of the community to harp on issues that would be divisive rather than on the mountains of development problems the community is perennially engraved in. The song which should have had an overwhelming national consensus as a symbol of India’s nationalistic pride is being taken as cause to establish a distinct Muslim identity superseding the national identity guaranteed and established in the Constitution of the country for all its citizens.

The Vande Mataram song authored by Bankim Chandra Chatterji, does not allude to any religious sentiments and was purely a reflection of the pride esteem with which the Nation should be held by its citizens. The song held sway during the freedom movement and was the fulcrum around which the selfless citizens and leaders fought against the British. It inspired millions and brought under its spell devout nationalist leaders to sacrifice their lives and work for the liberation of India. In the aftermath of freedom and partition of the country, the Congress party wary of political implications, declared Vande Mataram as a National Song and Rabindranath Tagore’s Jana Gana Mana as a National Anthem.

The fabric of India’s diversity and co-existence of several communities is further strained and eroded with National pride becoming suppressed by dogmatic religious faith. Plagued as it is by issues of underdevelopment and lack of opportunities, the country stands a mute witness to the deplorable stand of Muslim leaders and all their arguments of Vande Mataram being anti-Islamic and opposition to its singing, sound hollow and bereft of true considerations. Alienated and disintegrated from the national mainstream the community already is, the hardened opposition seems to be well-conceived plot to seek further new grounds to expand its religious identity and remain impervious to visions of a developed India. It should dawn on these leaders that though Islam abhors worshipping anyone other than Prophet, it is binding and a constitutional duty of the citizens to respect the Nation and its national treasures of identity and nationhood.

Many Muslims argue about why every time the community’s patriotic leanings are put to question and test. Surely, there are not any instances other than pride and respect shown to the Nation’s song, anthem and symbols to show one’s allegiance besides, the reverence and respect one holds in conscience. If the community does feel truly about the National anthem, then why a song which euphemizes highest respect and obeisance to Motherland should be labeled anti-Islamic when it makes no references of any kind to any religion or beliefs. If worshipping reverently the Motherland is considered blasphemous and same as worshipping the supreme God (Of whatever identity) then, it is no different from treating the worshipping of one’s parents as equivalent to the Supreme force that pervades. The two view points are poles apart and are fundamentally distinct.

In these times of rapid emergence of separatist religious identities and fundamentalism, the vociferous opposition would further delineate the Muslim community from the national mainstream and would lead to suspicions on the community being ever vigilant, to establish its faith of supremacy over national interests and progress.

The Congress ever eager to chance up on an opportunity to please the Muslim leaders has taken a expected stand by singing in tune with Shahi Imam Bukhari. It has demonstrated again how far removed it remains and how unwilling it is in realizing “One India, One Nation, One People” dream of our freedom fighters.

There ever can be no divergent views based as they might be on any considerations with regard to the allegiance citizens owe to the country and its constitution. If every symbol of nationalism is equated to religious priorities and dogmatic perceptions, what would emerge more forcefully is the spectre of damaging threats to national integration and not the compassionate bindings of mutual respect and love for nation and its every citizen in a vast and diverse country like India.

It should dawn our political leaders and Muslim community alike that the more this kind of retrograde moves and stands are trumpeted, the stronger would be the blow to the already embittered notion of national integration. The communities would be driven further in to the mindless morass of insignificant issues and made to pay severely by the acts of unpatriotic and selfish politicians.

If our political leaders have scant disregard to prized possessions and symbols of INDIA, let its citizenry not remain blindfolded through religious dogmas. It is high time, all communities realize and rise in unison to sing honor and respect to the Motherland unequivocally. Shall this remain a pipedream...,


At 6:47 AM, Blogger hyderabadi guy said...


The grip of the Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen on the community remains strong, With a Member representing Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha, five members in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, 40 corporators in Hyderabad and 95-plus members elected to various municipal bodies in Andhra Pradesh, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is one of the foremost representatives of the city’s Muslims and the most powerful Muslim party in India and one can see the partys strenghth if it goes to Hyderabad old city and Parts of Muslim Dominated Villages of Andhra Pradesh everywhere u look u can see MIM written on walls ,lightpoles and buildings leaving aside green flags and posters of its Leadership and there small Offices . The Majlis has brought lot of development to the Old part of the city even after it is said it hasnt done anything by its opponents who are mostly Ex Majlis workers.The Majlis was formed in 1927 “for educational and social uplift of Muslims”. But it articulated the position that “the ruler and throne (Nizam) are symbols of the political and cultural rights of the Muslim community… (and) this status must continue forever”.The Majlis pitted itself against the Andhra Mahasabha and the communists who questioned the feudal order that sustained the Nizam’s rule. It also bitterly opposed the Arya Samaj, which gave social and cultural expression to the aspirations of the urban Hindu population in the Hyderabad State of those days.By the mid-1940s, the Majlis had come to represent a remarkably aggressive and violent face of Muslim communal politics as it organised the razakars (volunteers) to defend the “independence” of this “Muslim” State from merger with the Indian Union.According to historians, over 1,50,000 such `volunteers’ were organised by the Majlis for the Nizam State’s defence but they are remembered for unleashing unparalleled violence against Communal Hindus and the communists and all those who opposed the Nizam’s “go it alone” policy. It is estimated that during the height of the razakar `agitation’, over 30,000 people had taken shelter in the Secunderabad cantonment alone to protect themselves from these `volunteers’.But the razakars could do little against the Indian Army and even put up a fight. Kasim Rizvi, the Majlis leader, was imprisoned and the organisation banned in 1948. Rizvi was released in 1957 on the undertaking that he would leave for Pakistan in 48 hours. Before he left though, Rizvi met some of the erstwhile activists of the Majlis and passed on the presidentship to Abdul Wahed Owaisi, a famous lawyer and an Islamic scholar from jamia nizamia who also was jailed for nearly 10 months after he took over the Majlis leadership as the then govt wanted to abolish the Majlis party but Owaisi refused to do so and was seen as a person who had financially supported the party when it was a bankrupt and weak one after the Police Action in Hyderabad State.Owaisi is credited with having “re-written” the Majlis constitution according to the provisions of the Indian Constitution and “the realities of Muslim minority in independent India”, and fought the legal case for winning back darrusslam mim headquarters for years according to a former journalist, Chander Srivastava. For the first decade-and-a-half after this “reinvention”, the Majlis remained, at best, a marginal player in Hyderabad politics and even though every election saw a rise in its vote share, it could not win more than one Assembly seat.The 1970s saw an upswing in Majlis’ political fortunes. In 1969, it won back its party headquarters, Dar-us-Salaam — a sprawling 4.5-acre compound in the heart of the New City. It also won compensation which was used to set up an ITI on the premises and a women’s degree college in Nizamabad town. In 1976, Salahuddin Owaisi took over the presidentship of the Majlis after his father’s demise who also was also Jailed Various times .This started an important phase in the history of the Majlis as it continued expanding its educational institutions,Hospitals,Banks, including the first Muslim minority Engineering College and Medical College. Courses in MBA, MCA ,Nursing, Pharmacy and other professional degrees followed and now a daily newspaper known as Etemaad Daily. The 1970s were also a watershed in Majlis’ history as after a long period of 31 years, Hyderabad witnessed large-scale communal rioting in 1979. The Majlis came to the forefront in “defending” Muslim life and property Majlis workers could be seen at these moments defending the properties of Muslims in the wake of riots and these workers were very hard even for the police to control them even now it is a known fact that there are nearly about 2500 units of strong members who only act if there is a seirous threat to the Owaisi family and these members are under the direct orders of the Owaisi family which leads the Majlis party leaving aside thousands of workers and informers throughout the State and even outside the country far away till America and the Gulf countries.Salahuddin Owaisi, also known as “Salar-e-Millat” (commander of the community), has repeatedly alleged in his speeches that the Indian state has “abandoned” the Muslims to their fate. Therefore, “Muslims should stand on their own feet, rather than look to the State for help'’, he argues.This policy has been an unambiguous success in leveraging the Majlis today to its position of being practically the “sole spokesman” of the Muslims in Hyderabad and its environs.Voting figures show this clearly. From 58,000 votes in the 1962 Lok Sabha elections for the Hyderabad seat, Majlis votes rose to 1,12,000 in 1980. The clear articulation of this “stand on one’s feet” policy in education and `protection’ during riots doubled its vote-share by 1984. Salahuddin Owaisi won the seat for the first time, polling 2.22 lakh votes. This vote-share doubled in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections to over four lakhs.The Majlis has since continued its hold on the Hyderabad seat winning about five-and-a-half lakh votes each time.Despite remarkable economic prosperity and negligible communal violence in the past decade, the hold of the Majlis on the Muslims of Hyderabad remains, despite minor dents. And despite widespread allegations of Majlis leaders having “made money”, most ordinary Muslims continue to support them because, as one bank executive put it “they represent our issues clearly and unambiguously'’. An old Historian Bakhtiyar khan says the Owaisi family was a rich family even before entering Politics and he says he had seen the late Majlis leader Abdul Wahed Owaisi in an American Buick car at a time when rarely cars were seen on Hyderabad Roads and the family had strong relations with the ersthwhile Nizams of Hyderabad and the Paighs even now the family is considered to be one of the richest familes in Hyderabad.A university teacher says that the Majlis helped Muslims live with dignity and security at a time when they were under attack and even took the fear out of them after the Police action and adds that he has seen Majlis leaders in the front at times confronting with the Police and the Govt. Asaduddin Owaisi, the articulate UK educated barrister from Lincolns Inn College son of Salahuddin Owaisi and Former leader of the Majlis’ Legislature party and now an MP himself who has travelled across the globe meeting world leaders and organizatons and even in war zones compares the Majlis to the Black Power movement of America.The Majlis that emerged after 1957 is a completely different entity from its pre-independence edition, he says adding that comparisons with that bloody past are “misleading and mischievous”. “That Majlis was fighting for state power, while we have no such ambitions or illusions”.He stoutly defends the need for “an independent political voice” for the minorities, which is willing to defend them and project their issues “firmly”.“How can an independent articulation of minority interests and aspirations be termed communal,” he asks and contests any definition of democracy which questions the loyalty of minorities if they assert their independent political identity. “We are a threat not only to the BJP and Hindu communalism, but also to Muslim extremism,” Asaduddin claims. “By providing a legitimate political vent for Muslims to voice their aspirations and fears, we are preventing the rise of political extremism and religious obscurantism when the community is under unprecedented attack from Hindu communalists and the state'’. He can be seen in his speeches speaking against terrorism in the Country and says if the time arises Majlis will stand side by side in defending the Nation and Recently Majlis ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi has Visited Lebanon after the war with israel and met the leaders of the resistance group Hezbollah and he has even visited Bombay and Malegaon Muslims and raised there issues in Parliament and has even represented the police torture victims to the Prime Minister and has given aid From Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen Party Fund.


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