Vande Mataram – An Enduring Legacy of Vitriolic Hate

All national songs are meant to rally and unite nations, but one keeps wondering as to what is embodied in Vande Mataram, the Indian national song that has become such an unceasing source of friction and acrimony between the Hindus and the remaining communities in India, particularly once its title means; Salute to the Mother? We in Pakistan are lucky thatthe issue remains of peripheral interest but Vande Mataram’s threatening message keeps stalking the psyche of the Indian Muslims, constantly reminding them of the threat of being swamped over by a strident Hindu nationalism. The song’s potential to divide the polity in India was in full view recently by the extent of furor caused when a convention of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind supported an earlier Fatwa issued in 2006 by Darul Uloom which prevented a recitation of the song by Muslim children in state run schools. The reaction by Shiv Sena’s Executive President Uddhav Thackerey sums up the communal passions that the song stirs; “If you don’t want to salute the motherland, then whom do you salute? What is the shame in saluting Bharatmata? Those who don’t want to salute Bharatmata should go to Pakistan, Bangladesh. There is no such place for traitors in India,” he said.

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