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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 30 New Delhi July 18, 2015

Controversy on the National Anthem

Monday 20 July 2015

COMMUNICATION

The controversy over the national anthem, raked up by the Rajasthan Governor, once again highlights the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of a section of this country’s opinion-makers who, even after a lapse of 114 years, are not reconciled to the fact that Rabindranath Tagore did not compose Janaganamana as an eulogy for King George V. This is also evident from a perusal of the debate on the subject on the internet. By raking up the controversy they are again calling into question Tagore’s patriotism which does not need to be established afresh. Tagore’s contemporaries, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose, have recorded, in their writings in ample measure, their respect and reverence for Rabindranath whose commitment to and love for India was second to none.

It is evident that the Sangh Parivar is deter-mined to wreck the legacy of liberal humanism, secularism and patriotism bequeathed to the nation by Gandhi, Nehru and Subhas Bose among others. The pity is that Tagore remains one of the most profoundly misunderstood personalites whose contributions to nation-building is gratefully acknowledged by those who have read his works with an open mind. No one is above criticism; however, motivated aspersions cast on national icons can only bring further rancour in a society suffering from all kinds of parochialism and bigotry. People in positions of power and influence need particularly to bear this in mind.

Purusottam Bhattacharya, (Professor of International Relations, Jadavpur University)
Kolkata