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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Vande Mataram ?

Vande Mataram or Co-existens?
Jun 9 2006 1:27AM comments rss:

June 08, 2006 - Original Posting
June 10, 2006 - Added comments about assimilation
June 11, 2006 - Added comments about Co-Existence
Aug 27, 2006 - Added additional comments


Mike Ghouse
Dallas, Texas
What is the problem with singing Vande Mataram ?
What is the problem not singing it?
As a product of the democracy, I hope each one of us
would be able to see both points of view. Based on informal
studies, majority of the population will defend the rights of
every individual, as they would defend their own rights,
a hallmark of civil societies.

There are a few who believe, that other Indians should
not have the same rights. They believe that the other
Indians are not Indians, as if they don't eat food grown
on Indian soil, drink imported water, breath air shipped
in from Mars, Joota from Japan, Patloon from Inglistaan
and as if they don't walk on Indian soil .

Martin Niemöller wrote a poem during the II WW,
about how fascism takes roots, if we don't watch it
it will eat us alive. Here is an Indianized version of
Martin Niemöller's poem.

They came first for the Muslims,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came for the Christians,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Christian.

Then they came for Sikhs,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Sikh.

Then they came for Lingayats,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Lingayat.

Then they came for Shaivites,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Shaivite.

Then they came for Dalits,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Dalit.

Then they came for South Indians,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a South Indian.

Then they came for ______ Indians, (fill whatever state you want)
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't _______ Indian.

Then they came for men who wore Dhoti in certain style,
and I didn't speak because I didn't wear my Dhoti in that Style.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

BEWARE: Those who want to impose their practices on others, won't even spare you.

I wrote a note complimenting 350 years of Jewish community in the US and UK.
I am pasting that note as it is very relevant to the Vande Mataram topic.


The following article has gotten a few interesting points to ponder. First of all, congratulations to the Jewish Community for Celebrating 350 years of establishing the Jewish communities in UK and USA.

Equal rights, freedom to practice religion and freedom of speech have all been enshrined in our constitution, but some of the items remained on books and never made it to market of practice. Thanks to the Jewish Community's relentless efforts to keep the religion and the church separate, that made our constitution meaningful. Thanks to the determination of MLK and Rosa Parks for causing the Civil rights act of 1963, which finally gave value to the constitution one hundred and eighty seven years later. The following report acknowledged the Jewish and African American contribution to America.

A few interesting items: 23 Jews came from Brazil to New York in 1654 - Brazil was ahead of us in immigration? Brazil has been open to people from other ethnicities and other nations. Just the other day, I read an item that they were inviting the gay and lesbians to make home in Brazil. A very open minded country indeed.

In 1655, when Menasseh ben Israel appealed to Cromwell about establishing the Jewish community in England, an interesting myth prevailed at that time. He " appealed to an eccentric millenarian prophecy circulating at the time that claimed that Christ's second coming would be preceded by a return of the Jews to England " . And the same myth blinds our neo-cons today. They want to speed up the Armageddon. Pat Robertson criticized former PM Sharon for withdrawing from Gaza and made an uncouth comment about his health. The extremist Islamists take the verses from Qur'aan out of context and justify their heinous crimes as the neo-cons want to pre-empt Armageddon. The Hindutva group on the other hand wants non-Hindu's to surrender to them. These groups would go to any length to make these happen. God is not subservient to these egomaniacs, goodness will always win, good guys will finish last.

The question of assimilation would always be haunting!
Does assimilation mean conforming to the practices of the Majority?
Does it mean abandoning one's God given uniqueness ?
Does it mean forced obedience?
Does it mean Hitlerism, the concept of a superior race? (group).
Do the acts of extremists represent their insecurities?

The World has learned a lot from India and Indian wisdom, it is time for us to heed the American wisdom. To keep the State and Church separate. It is because of this freedom, we Indians have come to this land, we have to learn to respect and honor these values. We should never compare ourselves to narrower values of non-democratic nations.

Personally, I enjoy the renditions of Vande Mataram . The DVD version is on my website
www.MikeGhouse.net, Click the petition link on my home page and do two things: 1) Sign the Nuclear Energy Bill and 2) Listen to the beautiful Vande Mataram if you would like to, then come back to the home page and sign the Diwali Stamp Petition. We need to do positive things.

As a humble Indian and an American who values every human's right to exist on their own terms, right to free speech, right to practice or not practice what one believes, I will not force any one to sing it or listen to Vande Mataram. I will assure you this, I will defend Hinduism and every religion (
www.FoundationforPluralism.com ) on this earth and ask your support in fighting the extremists. They will not spare any one, and there will be on one to speak for you or I.

Mike Ghouse

Added on June 10th, 2006
If anything is forced on people, they will resist it. Over the years, this song is used as a condition of patriotism (by a few). Personally I do not have a problem with the song itself, but I do not like the idea of forcing this song on people, any people. Vande Mataram has become a symbol of fascism. Besides, why should a song be that important a determinant of one's nationality? It was never a national song.It is almost an identical debate about prayer in school? What tint of prayer? I am glad we have more peole in the US to keep the church and the state separate, the same thing is true in India. The neocons here and there are the same, they want to push their agenda on others.I am glad to hear Dr. Mehta's comments, Islam like every other religion is not monolithic. Different opinions come from different people. Religion and ethnicity get clearly mixed up.There is a method to check the universal applicability of one's comments. When Dr. Mehta found that the Muslim doctors he talked to chose religion over nation (in the US) , he either failed or chose not to ask the same quesiton to people of other faiths, what would they have chosen? You will be surprise with the similarity of answers on a random basis. Again, not all of them will do that, but some do.When the US put sanctions against India and Pakistan after the Nuclear blasts in India and Pakistan some 6-8 years ago. I was amazed at the way the Pakistanis behaved. Many of them got together and talked about beating the sanctions by pooling the monies and sending to Pakistan. Before I could jump to conclusions, we the Indians did exactly the same. Russian ethnicity has done that, Chinese have done it, and just recently as we heard about Iran's harassmeent of the minorities, a few Iranian Zoroastrians, even though harassed, sided with Iran's right to have nuclear weapons, I was taken back.The test to each statement would be: Would this statement I made about others, apply to me and every one else?
June 11, 2006 - Added comment about co-existence

Peace! What is critical to us as a nation, Singing Vande Mataram or Co-Existence ?
Pluralism also means facing the conflicts squarely and finding solutions or at least developing an understanding towards a respectful co-existence. Running away from the conflict is easy and we can always pass the buck to next generation. It is tempting to follow the pleasure principle and run away from that which gives anxiety and pain, that which disturbs the mirage of peace (aka Maya). Is that the right thing to do? This issue is in every newspaper and most Indians are familiar with it. Both the points of view must be considered.
Most Indians do not care about it one way or the other, but for some Muslim Indians and some Hindu Indians, it is a source of conflict and pops up in the public domain. Suppressing the conflict is even more dangerous. It is a pain that will not go away until we find a lasting solution to it. In my life it has surfaced at least a dozen times. If we don't face the conflict, we will consciously let it linger or we are trying to dodge the issue and pass it on to the next generation. This song has prodded religious sentiments, and at times has hurt the greater need of the nation - CO-EXISTENCE with respect to all.
We have a national anthem; the founding fathers debated about three songs, one of them was Vande Mataram. They did not adopt the Vande Mataram as an official anthem. So, please let Vande Mataram remain as a part of the patriotic collection of Songs that we play on the independence day celebrations, for 4 years in a row, I played Vande Mataram on my daily Radio special during the independence week here in Dallas. I had people sing a line or two on the air. No one had a problem with Vande Mataram.

But making some one to sing it as a national anthem in schools daily is something we need to think about. Let it remain as a part of India's Patriotic songs. This should not be mixed with serving the nation. India is every one's nation, and no one has to prove his loyalty to India by singing the Vande Mataram. It is like asking all Americans to say Christian prayers; if they refuse, they do not become anti-nation. The argument is not a substantial one.

There is a debate about removing the word God from the pledge of allegiance, one nation under God. Whether it happens or not is not the issue, but no one will be called un-American for not saying the pledge.

There was a debate about displaying the 10 Commandments in public place, which I was opposed to, and the Hindu American Foundation was opposed to it as well and had filed a law suit. But to call us un-American, and not serving American National interest would have been unfair. Fortunately, we do not have enough fanatics in the US and we were, both the Foundation for Pluralism and Hindu American Foundation were spared. To call Muslim Indians, not supporting nationalism would very equally undemocratic and wrong. We have to value freedom of speech, how we worship, what we sing, the movies we see and what we eat. We cannot compare our honored democracies with non-democratic nations. Some day, we hope, all countries will have the same freedom as we do, we need to look forward to it, rather than to regress to the style of non-democracies. Let them look up to us, like Saudi Arabia and others, and not the other way around.
Personally I never had the problem with it, but if a group, any group, feels that their personal faith is violated by giving divinity to any one but the Almighty, let them live in peace. What do we lose? Better yet, what do we gain? The suggestion that most people sing only one line is a good one. Maybe it ought to be proposed that only a line will be used, not all of it, and any other verses will be deleted. Then no one may have a problem with it. I hope that would be an alternative to consider. At this point where both extremes have bolted themselves to the ground, we need to build understanding and respect towards each other.
I hope each one of us will defend the rights of others, whether we like them or not.
The spirit of the discussion is learning and understanding another point-of-view. It is natural to be angry but it should also be natural to be accepting. May it happen soon.
Mike Ghouse

Additional comments on August 27, 2006

1. As an individual I have no problem singing Vande Mataram and it was a song I played every year on the Radio in my independence show from Aug 1 thru 15th for many years.

2. You have rightly pointed out - if people understand the essence for which it stands for, they would not have the problem. Invoking the aspect of God that removes obstacles is seeking the blessing of Ganesh, as Bismilla does for Muslims. Essence is the same, appearance and rituals are different. I enjoy my Roti with Chatni, you may enjoy with Subzi, so what? Both of us please our taste buds.

2. A majority of Muslims do not have a problem with Vande Mataram, much of the resistance comes from a select few for it is pushed on them and a school in AP wanted to make it compulsory. As an individual, even if I am in love with Vande Mataram, I would stand up for the rights of those who do not want it to be imposed on them. If I were a Hindu, that would be my duty to defend the rights of those who are pushed to do against their will.

3. Bukhari guy does not represent even half a million Muslims of the 130-140 Muslims of India - he represents some of the attendees of the Mosque where he leads the prayers. Neither do other schools represent Muslims as a whole. Our Media gives him prominence, as he is the source of sensation and causes gossip around the corners of the world. I hope to be fair, if the media also gives equal time and space to those who do not have a problem.

4. There is a leadership vacuum within the Muslim community. Representations have been local, rather lazer pointed. There is no national leadership to lead Muslims out of low education rates, neither as a society we can let them figure it out on their own. As a nation, it is our whole responsibility to see every one is on par for the long term good of our nation. (Community is a bus:

5. It is Bukhari's selfish political motivations and Arjun's slefishness that is the reason for this problem to linger and pop up every few months.

6. Now that it is a divider of Indians, as opposed to be an uniting factor, we need to move on. Those who want to sign, go for it. Those who do not, let them not. India will not become rich or poor singing or no singing of this song.

Mike Ghouse

Article Celebrating 350 years of Jewish history
Times of India Column on the subject.

Forward ForumBritish Jewry Turns 350 (Or So Goes the Myth)By Eliane GlaserJune 3, 2006
The British Jewish community is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year, just a year after America's Jews observed three-and-a-half centuries in the country. This month a special service will be held at Britain's oldest synagogue. In September, London's Trafalgar Square will host a festival devoted to Jewish history and culture. The calendar is full of anniversary-related lectures, concerts and official dinners.
It seems a remarkable coincidence that the Jewish communities of Britain and America were founded at almost exactly the same time. American Jews place the founding of the community in 1654, when 23 Jews, fleeing the Brazilian city of Recife from Portuguese conquerors, found refuge in New Amsterdam — present-day New York. British Jews, for their part, look to 1656, when Oliver Cromwell readmitted the Jews to England, three-and-a-half centuries after the Jews were expelled during the antisemitic Medieval period by King Edward I.
A remarkable coincidence, indeed — were it not for the inconvenient fact that Cromwell did not readmit the Jews to England.
In 1655, a leading rabbi from the thriving Jewish community of Amsterdam called Menasseh ben Israel visited England in order to persuade Cromwell to let the Jews back in. Menasseh cited the familiar mercantile arguments, and also appealed to an eccentric millenarian prophecy circulating at the time that claimed that Christ's second coming would be preceded by a return of the Jews to England.
Cromwell called together a conference of merchants, lawyers and clergymen to discuss Menasseh's proposal. But after many days of heated debate, they were unable to reach a verdict, and Menasseh went away empty handed.
Jewish historians have long argued that, although Menasseh's mission failed, a Jewish community was nevertheless established during 1656. In March of that year, members of the existing Jewish community in London — there were indeed Jews in England prior to Menasseh's arrival — petitioned Cromwell to allow them to hold synagogue services and to establish a cemetery. The petition for these two hallmarks of communal status, however, was ignored.
The date of 1656, then, is rather arbitrary. Other milestones could have conceivably been chosen as the founding moment of British Jewry. In 1701, the community's first synagogue, Bevis Marks, was established. In 1753, the so-called "Jew Bill," which allowed members of the community to become naturalized citizens, was passed by Parliament, though it was repealed a year later. And in 1858 the Jewish emancipation movement resulted in the right to serve in Parliament.
It was not until the late 19th century, when hordes of Eastern European Jews flooded into Britain, threatening the status of the established Jewish community, that Cromwell's alleged re-admittance of the Jews to England became accepted as the community's founding story. At the time, the reputation of Cromwell was enjoying a revival, and the first "Resettlement Day" was held in 1894.
In America the story was much the same. The first time the year 1654 was celebrated as the founding of the community was in 1905 — during the great, unsettling waves of mass immigration from Europe. For the Jewish communities on both sides of the pond, the foundational events of the 17th century provided positive precedents for immigration.
It was insecurity from which the need for celebration emerged. So why, at a time of unprecedented communal comfort and safety, are the anniversaries now such a big deal?
Why don't we recognize that the British readmission story is a myth, and that the founding of the American Jewish community was a small, reluctant affair? And since there were Jews in England and America prior to 1656 and 1654, why can we not admit that there was no "man on the moon" moment?
Jewish leaders in Britain and the United States are quick to point out that the anniversaries are as much about celebrating the Jews' achievements as about commemorating a historic event. This imperative appears particularly pressing in the light of assimilation-driven fears about continuity.
Whether or not this anxiety is justified, it is driving the movement, on both sides of the Atlantic, to consolidate and institutionalize the celebration of Jewish communal life. While there is nothing inherently damaging about this, it does not exactly advance the vibrant Jewish tradition of questioning history and encouraging critical debate.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that it is not only the Jewish community that stands to benefit from the anniversaries. In Britain, the events this year provide the wider national establishment with an opportunity to congratulate itself on a unique tradition of tolerance. In contrast to other parts of Europe, where antisemitic persecution has been rife, Britain believes that it has upheld the principle of religious liberty since the 17th century.
This tradition of great British tolerance, however, has been overstated. In America, the separation of church and state enshrined in the Constitution has given Jews, on the whole, a proper place in the nation's structure. But in Britain, church and state remain intertwined — meaning that the inclusion of religious minorities, including Jews, has always been an informal, intermittent affair.
With immigration once again becoming a fraught issue in Britian, tolerance is being trumpeted by political leaders as never before. At the first "citizenship ceremony" for new immigrants, held in 2004, former minister David Blunkett emphasized that "Britain has a great tradition as a tolerant and welcoming nation."
The formula is repeated whenever there is an attempt to define "Britishness," and the anniversary celebrations only add to this patriotic self-image. In Britain, it seems fair to say, the Jewish community appears to be continuing the rather old-fashioned tradition of thanking our hosts for having us.
Eliane Glaser, a producer at BBC, is author of a forthcoming history of the Jews in England (Palgrave Macmillan).

May be we should read the history of this song:

One must read this piece to get another point of view.


Fatwa against singing Vande Mataram

Md A Basith(Times of India; June 8, 2006)


HYDERABAD: With the new academic year set to start next week and theadmission process at its peak, several city--based muftis issued afatwa on Tuesday asking Muslims not to admit their children in schoolswhere Vande Mataram is sung every morning. Children who are alreadystudying in such institutions must be immediately shifted to otherschools, the fatwa ordered.

Muftis, including All--India Sunni Ulema Board president Moulana SyedShah Badruddin Qadri Aljeelani, Moulana Mohammed Hasnuddin, MoulanaMohammed Mastan Ali, Nazima Aziz and Rizwana Zarreen ofJamiat--ul--Mominath, jointly issued the fatwa when some parentsapproached them seeking a shariah ruling on Vande Mataram. Severalschools in the city start their day with a recital of the nationalsong. "Vande Mataram was written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

It emphasises that Indians treat their land as God. Ours is a secularcountry. Asking Muslims to do something like this cannot beadvocated," Moulana Badruddin Qadri Aljeelani told TOI after issuingthe fatwa.

Even if these institutions offer quality education, they cannot forcestudents to violate the shariah norms. Muslims cannot compromise onKalma--e--Tayyaba, the basic pillar of Islam which says there is onlyone God and Mohammed is the Prophet, he added.

Parents sending their children to such schools are committing the'Gunaah--e--Kabira'. Hence, stay away from schools which are notsecular, advised Mastan Ali. According to Islam, there is only oneGod.

The moment one starts believing in more than one God, it is treated asShirk (anti--Islam), said Moulana Mufti Hasnuddin. School authoritiesshould not force Muslim children to either recite Vande Mataram or anyother rendition which is prohibited in Islam, Mastan Ali added.

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