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25 May 2020, Edition - 1777, Monday

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Big salutes to the National Anthem

Uma Ram

The irritating so called joke circulating in social media about our National Anthem makes every Indian with self-respect mock at the creators of the message. “When the National animal comes while playing the National Anthem, should we run or standstill?’’

Though it might sound logical, the thought process and the mockery behind the message conveyed calls for self- introspection. Criticising our own National Anthem is worst than criticising our mother.

At the cinema house two years ago when I first saw the National Anthem being played I was surprised as it was the very first time I witnessed it at the cinemas. Somehow it invoked a mixed kind of feeling as to whether it was right or wrong to be played at the cinemas. But I felt it necessary for our people to be constantly reminded of its value and the greatness attached to it. In fact, the lyrics, the pronunciation of every syllable and the tune invoke patriotism even in the meek. Such is the combination of the composition.

Now after the completion of studies how many of us sing or listen to our National Anthem except on national festivals and celebrations. That too with the boom of satellite channels hardly do people watch programmes on patriotic subjects. Even the parades on national festivals are hardly being viewed on the television screens as people are busy hitting first day first shows of movies released on such occasions.

In such a scenario, unless it is being played in such cinema houses where people flock even on days dedicated to patriotism, people might forget even the lyrics or tune of our National Anthem.

But on the very same social media, the audio message of a toddler singing our National Anthem in the innocent crib talk circulating on Whatsapp kindles little hope that people are not fully taken aback by western culture forgetting our heritage.

Recently while at the Big cinemas not only myself and my family but almost the whole audience were provoked by the behaviour of three vicenarian guys. They were sitting relaxed with legs crossed munching popcorn and fiddling their androids while the National Anthem was being played. Worst was their attitude of looking around for company for their scandalous deportment and laughing aloud at others for their righteous etiquette.

It is really pitiful to see the youth of today taken aback by western culture and mock at our traditions. Simply salutes to our Prime Minister Modi for having introduced this practice of playing our National Anthem at the cinemas, where people flock. At least then will they remember that there is such a patriotic song which has so much of historic importance.

My father’s bedtime stories of my great great grandfather the late Swaminathan Chettiar, a Siddha doctor under the British rule who had participated in the Indian freedom fight, are still nailed in my memories afresh. He was in the freedom fight campaigns with the freedom fighter late Tiruppur Kumaran. But as he was employed as a government Siddha doctor he could not raise much voice against the rule. In fact, only when he had to attend to the delivery of a poor woman in public after she was stamped down in a freedom fight campaign, he gave up participation in such events and took up the government doctor job to help our fellow Indians in need. His medical manuscripts of 1878 in English, replicas of the Alex brush signed by British authorities, still adorn my safe. His diary that my dad treasures speak of the tortures Indians underwent to get the freedom what most of us misuse today.

If the present generation ignores or disrespects our National Anthem it is because of the lack of “quality education”, that aims only at marks to get into top class institutions to earn multi-digit salaries rather than earning a good name as a disciplined person. “Education for living” is the quality today rather than “Education for life”.

It was shocking to see primary students address not only their seniors in higher secondary but also the teachers by their name in an international school. I don’t understand the concept behind disrespecting people in spite of their age. Worse was a complaint from a senior teacher that students nowadays sit with legs crossed without even greeting them when faculties enter the class.

A strong foundation in the tender age of moral values can never go waste. Thanks to my parents and my school for having imbibed values in me that till this day I can’t address even a servant by name if he or she is older than I am.

Children should be taught that being modern doesn’t mean being arrogant or proud. If they are taught at home and in school of the martyrdom behind the freedom we enjoy and misuse today they will never ever disrespect our patriotic aspects or culture.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

(The author of the column is Uma Ram, freelance writer from Coimbatore)

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