Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Jan Gan Man and Jingoism

Last Sunday I went to the movies with my family. After a barrage of sleek, fast paced ads selling everything from love, car, condoms and food, from a mind blowing display of the theatre's latest sound technology and comfortable, reclining seats, food and beverage service inside to trailers of future movies, suddenly....

there is.....

Jan Gan Man Adhinayaka Jaya Hai ...

shuffling, fumbling, awkward off-loadings of Cokes, popcorns, masala chips; stopped mid-way mobile chats and sms queues,furtive glances at the neighbors to figure out how to respond, and by first stanza the assembly is up; quickly swallowing the last pop-corn mouthful or a long secretive slurp from the tall, cold, paper-jar of Pepsi. Then in various stages of ADD (attention deficient disorder), in nonchalance of discomfort, or slouched
uncaring disarray - a few erect old men in attention - the assembly of mainly rich youth, and a few middle-aged-older-people, like me, make it through a media show that was played out in front of us on a giant screen, Dolby surround sound and flitting images...

cold, white, towering mountains, snow blizzards, men in uniforms, tanks pointing to skies, guns, a solitary figure struggling to erect a flag - tri-colored, luminescent,  in a hostile, gray, cold peak against a gray brooding sky...flag erected, men salute, a tiny smile, music throbs, files of tanks again...Jaya Hai, Jaya Hai, Jaya Hai!

I watch and understand and hurt...who is doing this to all the foolish, young and naive that stare at it? what signals is this sending and what is getting manufactured inside to allow consent to all the horrors outside? outside the INOX cinema halls? outside on streets? in jungles where many men in fatigues and better guns hunt out few men, also in fatigues and other guns? within and across borders all over our northern to north-easterns to east-easterlies...men again in similar fatigues to the brave heroes on screen gun down children, rape women, destroy generation after generations of youths, middled aged, old, ...life itself. Men like men on screen, kill. They are trained to kill - for us - the whole nation of the comfortable, privileged class who buy out buggers like these so they leave their homes, hearths, hearts, wife, children, parents, communities, to go plunge a flag on a solitary mountain top and then run wild, amok, mad with their trained-hate that and a life that they have been trained to give up. I wonder and I grieve and I wonder again, at what the Jan Gan Man really means - what was the intention of this national anthem, what composts of ideals, dreams and hopes lead to flowering of this song? Historical context of its origin seems irrelevant, compared to its later choice to represent a new nation and its aspirations as the national song...I suppose the song (whose meaning and intention I am now exploring for the first time) is addressed to the Thou - the Nation? Here is an official english translation:

Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
Dispenser of India's destiny.
Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind,
Gujarat and Maratha,
Of the Dravida and Orissa and Bengal;
It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
mingles in the music of Jamuna and Ganges and is
chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.
They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.
The saving of all people waits in thy hand,
Thou dispenser of India's destiny.
Victory, victory, victory to thee.

What does the above have to do with the immense and tough show of chauvinism to which we all stood in mute inattention? What does it have to do with anything?
My daughter turned to me at the end of it as said "Cool - that was nice". Nice?? NICE??

I turn to her as we sit down and say "lets talk about it later" and the movie begins....

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