There have been a lot of voices emerging from our nation sparking off debates about national symbols and how legitimate their usage is. While a lot of noise was made when Vande Matram was termed as un-Islamic by some religious leaders, the latest controversy is taking shape around the national anthem Jana Gana Mana .
The Governor of Rajasthan, Kalyan Singh, has come up with a demand to remove the word ‘Adhinayak’ from the national anthem claiming that it praises the ‘British’. While Kalyan Singh declares that he has the utmost respect for Rabindranath Tagore, he says that ‘Adhinayak’ as a word is meant to praise the British rulers and that is exactly why it must go.
While addressing a massive gathering at the Rajasthan University convocation, Kalyan Singh also mentioned that Rani Jhansi was a great queen and not Victoria. He said that words like ‘mahamahim’ and his/her excellency should be done away with from state terminology as no one is ‘mahan’ and these were in usage during British rule. This was the same title which his predecessor Margaret Alva also chose to drop, calling it archaic.
What does it really mean?
While Kalyan Singh’s demands have created ripples, the question is, what does ‘Adhinayak’ actually mean? Well ‘ Adhinayak’ means the “ruler of the minds of all people and dispenser of India’s destiny”. Unlike what Mr.Singh has to say, it does not have any direct reference to the erstwhile British rulers, but who it refers to is subject to varying interpretations. So whatever Kalyan Singh says is a product of his own personal interpretation but definitely does not seem to praise the British.
Tokenism over real issues?
Another crucial issue that is highlighted by these comments is tokenism overriding our country above the true essence of national integration. Undue importance given to words, symbols and gestures surpasses the realisation of one’s duties towards the country and society at large. While the country keeps debating upon petty issues, the argument should be about real issues.
By any logic, the removal of a word in the national anthem will in no way solve the many problems that India faces today. Corruption, communalism and crimes against women are in no way related to who we refer to as ‘Adhinayak’ in the national anthem.
In a similar incident, Rajasthan’s Education Minister Vasudev Devnani suggested that text books in the state should be rewritten relegating foreign rulers like Akbar while more emphasis should be put on indigenous figures like Maharana Pratap. This clearly seems like a way to impart selective facts through the education system which will only leave students with half knowledge.