Is it okay if someone doesn’t want to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ in India?

While these intellectual ideals are definitely worth pursuing, it is critical to factor in the harsh reality of human nature that has determined the history of humanity and shaped political boundaries

Weak states and kingdoms have been wiped out and untold sufferings have been unleashed on their populace

The ‘nation’ plays a major role in the lives of individuals by providing security and a larger identity

Just like people need the protective umbrella of the nation, the nation itself needs symbols to rally, inspire, and unite its people

Flags, national anthems, and emblems are amongst the most prominent symbols that define nations today

The slogan, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ is one such symbol for India; it has gained widespread acceptance and usage during India’s freedom struggle

This slogan can be translated to mean ‘long live Mother India’ or ‘victory to Mother India’

The word ‘mata’ is a popular synonym for ‘mother’ and not just another word for ‘goddess’

While some artists may have chosen to interpret and depict Bharat Mata as a goddess, it is by no means a religious slogan or symbol

Think of it as a salute to the motherland, or ‘matribhoomi’ as it is known in Hindi

Respect for mothers is an integral part of Indian culture

Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and all other communities virtually venerate the mother

It is natural for this veneration to be extended to the nation as well

To portray the country as the mother is to assign it maternal attributes like affection, nurturing, and fertility, which are again, completely religion neutral

Most Indian Muslims see this rationale and therefore have never had a problem saying these words

Those who object to it, either incorrectly interpret the meaning of the slogan, or are being misguided by those with vested interests

Delhi’s Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and poet Javed Akhtar are amongst the several prominent Indian Muslims who have come out in support of the slogan



com/watch?v=LhxblbcuV80 That being said, it is perfectly okay if someone doesn’t want to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, especially since that alone cannot be a yardstick to judge one’s patriotism

Nowhere has the government made it a mandate either

At the same time, it is also clear that chanting it is not a religious act and does not violate the tenets of the Islamic faith

So, just as people should not be forced to chant the slogan, there should be no communal diktats to not chant it either

When there is no religious element involved, it begs the question about why radicals like Asaduddin Owaisi are showing such extreme resistance of it

Is it just opportunistic posturing to stir the pot of communalism in these sensitive and highly charged times? Or are there deeper issues that are playing out? The answer to this question lies in the uneasy coexistence of the larger pan-Islamic identity and Indian nationality in the minds of some Indian Muslims

The moment the Indian identity becomes secondary, it opens up avenues for conflict with the interests of the Indian nation

The feelings of nationalism, like love and all other personal emotions, cannot be imposed

For a nation to be truly successful, its citizens must give it primacy over secondary identities such as religion, ethnicity, or language

It is the duty of the citizens to cherish and respect their nation and the nation’s duty to value each individual and allow them the liberty to fully express themselves

However, there has to be a distinction between not being nationalistic and being anti-national

Not loving someone is not the same as hating them

In order for this arrangement to function effectively in the Indian context, it is vital for that segment of Indian Muslims to stop seeing themselves through the prism of an Arab driven identity and as exceptions to the fabric of India

Most Indian Muslims are of sub-continental ethnic stock and not of Arab, Turk, or Persian descent

The understanding and acceptance of their Indic roots and civilisational context will lead to smoothening out a lot of the fissures and conflicts that keep erupting in the sub-continent

The comments of Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani author and intellectual, are illuminating in this regard



com/watch?v=wwq6SluBnoc Muslims are an integral part of India and are as attached to its soil as any other community

They have made vital contributions to its progress and have also had the opportunity to flourish in its secular and inclusive ecosystem, again, like any other community

Feelings of ‘otherness’ or victimhood is counterproductive since all Indians face common challenges in the path to greater peace and prosperity

Moreover, Islamic heritage and symbols have had widespread, unconditional acceptance and bear significant influence on India’s cosmopolitan identity

The spirit of give and take becomes an important healer when rifts surface

Just as there is no coercion to chant any slogan, a certain amount of grace and sensitivity towards symbols that have great meaning for a large segment of a country’s population is also vital

Peaceful co-existence and progress are only possible when everyone rises above petty differences and rallies towards the common good

Drawing from shared roots and civilisational ethos are perhaps a good way to strengthen the nation

Date:15-Apr-2016 Reference:View Original Link