“The moment you start arguing with an ignorant fool, you have already lost”, said Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA)— the fourth Caliph, who ruled the Caliphate from 656 to 661. To be honest, that alone should be reason enough for me to throw in the towel, but even though I am the greater fool…I am not an ignorant fool…And so, I will persevere.
Let us address the question first: Is chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ a symbol of patriotism? While there are those who would say that it is, I respectfully disagree. In case you are wondering why, let me explain. I don’t wake up every morning chanting anything (although I hum and sing a lot). I simply work…which entails teaching young people and writing about societal ills that render me ill-at-ease. But am I patriotic? You bet, I am…even though I do not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ every morning.
If you’re not able to see the logic in the argument, let me use another analogy…Do I love my mother? Yes! Do I say ‘I Love You Mom’ every single day? No! [Some things are just there… like love and loyalty].
However, having said that — and please forgive the devil’s advocate that resides merrily inside of me — I really don’t see a rhyme or reason behind the fracas over the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ chant. Do I say it every day? No, I don’t. But would I mind saying it? No, I won’t. I love my country. And I don’t really see why I — or anyone else for that matter — would have a problem with chanting ‘Hail Motherland’ (the English translation of the chant).
What is surprising to note is that while the rest of the world has no problem with their respective chants (don’t worry, I’ve shared a few at the end of the article), a section of Indians find these chants a blob on the name of democracy and their individual rights. Seems strange…really. Are they ashamed of India? Are they ashamed of victory? Or are they taking offence at the word mother?
Of course, there is one thing on which I agree wholeheartedly with the dissenters. A chant cannot be a litmus test for patriotism…period. Besides, a chant can never be a reliable scientific tool for measurement of patriotism. After all, a person who does not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ may be a more patriotic person than someone who does.
P.S. – As promised, here’s a quick-look at the lyrics of some of the national anthems from across the globe (specifically from the “western” counterparts). By the way, just on a side note, while the US National Anthem does not hail the motherland, it is a chant in the name of the flag (yes, the very flag that the same section of the Indians take offence at…)
UK: Hailing the Queen
God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.
Canada: True patriots love in all thy sons command
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
France: Hailing the Fatherland
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!