Volume - 4 : Issue - 1

Published : Jan. - Mar. 2005

Group : Issues


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A great injustice to Tagore and a traversity of truth

By Ranjit Butani

The SINDHI ACTION COMMITTEE formed by Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha, Akhil Bharat Sindhi Boli Ain Sahit Sabha, Sindhishaan and Sahyog Foundation – hosted a press conference on Saturday 15th January 2005 in Mumbai. Besides the print media, several television channels also covered the event held to garner support in favour of resistance to any move to delete “SINDH” form the Indian National Anthem. The Chief Guest was Shri Ram Jethmalani. Shri Niranjan Hiranandani and Bharat Harwani were special invitees.

As aptly put by Pankaj Vohra in the Hindustan Times, Delhi of January 10th, 2005 the Supreme Court should actually re-examine the rules which allows such frivolous and trivial petitions to be filed and debar any petition which seeks to desecrate our anthem, flag or symbols. Otherwise, publicity seeking individuals will continue to file petitions for just the heck of it.

“Would make us feel like outsiders within our own homeland”
J. T. WADHWANI – President, Bharitya Sindhu Sabha :

Uprooted from Sindh due to partition and settled all over the country, the Sindhi community, has toiled and given its sweat and blood towards the development of the country, identifying with India as being our very own homeland. We call ourselves Sindhi but Indians first. The very name of the organization presided over by me is “Bhartiya Sindhu Sabha.”

As such this attempt to remove ‘Sindh’ from the National Anthem strikes at our very roots. This song was written by Rabindranath Tagore in January 1911, and adopted as the National Anthem in 1950. Does anyone have the right 54 years later to tamper with the lyrics? Since 1911 this song has been sung and heard millions of times and has become a part of our life spirit. In 1911 – the reference was not to Sindh province as at the time what existed was Bombay Presidency which included Sindh and the unborn states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. So the word was not included on account of being a geographical entity, but with reference to the cultures and civilization.

Having left 1 Sindh behind the Sindhis have created 100 Sindhs wherever they have settled down, celebrating Sindhi festivals and keeping the traditions and culture alive. Today the talk of deleting ‘Sindh’ from the National Anthem would make us feel like outsiders within our own homeland.

The sentiments of the community have been hurt and several letters of protest and memoranda have been sent and are being sent to the President, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India to this effect.

I request everyone to take this movement forward and put an end to this mischievous controversy.

“Will not be tolerated at any cost”
RAM JAWHRANI – Chairman, Sahyog Foundation :

The pain and suffering on account of partition that the Sindhi community encountered is history by itself. Once again today, this sinful attempt to separate our roots, culture and heritage from the National Anthem by deleting “SINDH” will not be tolerated at any cost. Gurudev Tagore had composed this song, based on the diverse yet composite Indian culture in its entirety and this was adopted on 24th January 1950 as the National Anthem by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, considering the ancient civilization and culture of Sindhis included the Sindhi language along with others in the list of Sahitya Academies in 1956. On 10th April 1967 Shrimati Indira Gandhi included the language in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution.

Today inspite of all the respect and recognition, the Sindhis have not been given the rights on par with the other citizens. The Indian currency does not bear the Sindhi script; no float representing Sindhi art forms, nor has any Sindhi artist been invited to participate along with others at International Fora.

And now on top of all this, to remove ‘Sindh’ from the national anthem – the Sindhi community is extremely hurt and aggrieved and we are all gathered here to protest against this most uncalled for attempt.

“That stupidity has only unified Sindhis”
NIRANJAN HIRANANDANI – President, Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate Board and eminent builder :

I think sometimes you need an idiot to get the community together. We have been a divided community with too many leaders, with toll little work getting done for the community. But the greatness of the Sindhis has been that they have integrated with the local population anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world; and they have given back as much, if not more, than what they have taken.

In Bombay we have 40 educational institutions – schools and colleges, belonging to the Sindhi Community where 55,000 students obtain the best of education available. There are 4 major hospitals developed by the Sindhi Community. With such type of contribution the community never felt that it was not part of the local populace. The community amalgamated with the local population bringing about a unique integration.

It is only today because the state of SINDH is not a part of India and there is an attempt to delete it from the national anthem, that the community feels lost and longs for its own homeland that can be called SINDH; wherever the homeland be – Ulhasnagar, Gandhidham, Ajmer or anywhere else.

The issue is very simple; some person has picked up Tagore’s song and taken it out of context. The context is all the states of India are not represented in Tagore’s song. It is not the states but the cultures of India – the Sindhi – Sindhu is a part of the Hindu culture. So it will be a shame if Sindh or Sindhu is separated from Hindu or Hindustan because it is not just extracting Sindh – but the Hindu culture itself. And it will be a loss not to the Sindhi community alone. What the Sindhi community will loose is an anchorage or a linkage but what the country will loose is throwing away millions of people and making them feel that they are not Indian and don’t belong. And there lies the greatest sadness of this entire issue.

If the Sindhis really want – we should ask for a property – be it a barren piece of land – a piece of desert, a forest, an island or no value and we will turn that into a Sindhi paradise, with the only objective being economic greatness and not possession of land per se.

Today even China has dropped its ambition for territories – its fight is a battle not for land but greater economic prosperity. Let’s face it today, even the fight between US and rest of the world is about Oil. So lets not talk about land but aim for greater economic prosperity.

But that does not answer the question that has been raised by the stupid idiot who is trying to tinker with Tagore’s creation and I think that stupidity has only unified Sindhis, brought down differences, and brought many leaders together on one platform. This is the advantage we must draw out of this situation and stop giving this stupid idiot the importance he has been getting today.

“I assure you that the Supreme Court will put an end to this controversy.”
RAM JETHMALANI – Minister of Parliament and former Law Minister of India :

I am an Indian but state with pride that I am a Sindhi Indian. I left Sindh but brought Sindhiat with me. Sindhiat is imbibed from mother’s milk and no power on earth can erase Sindhiat form by being.

Let me throw some light on the legal aspects of this issue. It’s true that the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Government but it’s also a fact that the Supreme Court is bound to given every citizen a hearing, and when it issues a notice it’s not a judgement that ‘Sindh’ has to be removed from the National Anthem.

Many a times a notice is issued to get the opportunity of getting consolidated and detailed clarification and opposing opinion for that judgement can be given to end the controversy once and for all. So there is no cause for worry. There are adequate legal brains who will represent the Sindhi community to present the case before the Supreme Court.

The Indian society is a mixed society and we proudly proclaim to the world that India is a multi-ethnic state. When Tagore composed this song he was referring to the broad cultural rivers which unite together to form the main ocean called the Hindu Civilization or the Indian Civilization. I am not using the word Hindu in the communal sense. Hindu is Indu, Indu is Sindhu – which comes from Sindh.

In 1924 the excavations at Harapa and Mohan-jo-Daro completely changed the concept held by the west on the history of the world. It was proven conclusively that civilization began with the Indus Valley and not much later with the Greeks or Romans as hitherto believed.

The Sindh referred to in the song is not referring to the name of a piece of territory but it is the name of a broad cultural contribution which that part of the country made to the composite culture of India. Remove it and you make it poorer.

Another point I wish to make is us moorkh ko samjhao (tell that fool) that the petition he has filed is in favour of Pakistan, who should have objection to a part of their territory being mentioned in the Indian National Anthem. Is he advocating a Public Interest Litigation for Pakistan?

Even non-Sindhis have expressed their displeasure on this issue. Soli Sorabji, former Solicitor General of India, has offered to represent the Sindhi community and fight for their cause by appearing on their behalf at the Supreme Court. Baba Siddiqui – Minister from Maharashtra, has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister in protest. So we are not alone.

Just immediately after partition, Choithram Gidwani AICC member strongly objected to Mahatma Gandhi’s insinuation that Sindhis were cowards to have fled from Pakistan and demanded an apology from him stating that others would have willingly converted to Islam to retain their properties unlike the Sindhis who maintained their dharma, self respect and dignity and sacrificed everything for the nation.

So my friends I conclude by referring to the English saying NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS WORTH LIVING FOR UNLESS IT IS WORTH DYING FOR.

We will safeguard our honour, we safeguard the name of Sindh in the Anthem. We will make every sacrifice for it but I assure you that no sacrifice will be called for and ultimately the Supreme Court itself will put an end to this controversy for all times.

“A great injustice to Tagore and a traversity of truth”
KIRAT BABANI – Chief Patron, Akhil Bharat Sindhi Boli Ain Sahit Sabha :

The suggestion to delete the word ‘Sindh’ from the National Anthem and replace it with ‘Kashmir’ is obviously so odious, insulting and annoying that the person who has made such a proposal creates a doubt whether he is of a sound and balanced mind. He has not only outraged the minds of the Sindhi speaking people, who were once residing in that part of India, which is now included in Pakistan, but many more millions of Sindhis residing overseas. Such a preposterous idea has caused a grave and deep hurt, both psychologically and spiritually, to the Sindhis all over the world.

As a matter of fact, ‘Sindhi’ has become a global citizen and the ‘Sindhi’ language, which is associated with many historical truths and realities, and the very word ‘Hind’ or ‘India’ is directly derived from ‘Sindh’ or ‘Indus’, referring to the great river ‘Sindhu’, and the great civilization of the Indus Valley, the most ancient and advanced civilization of ancient India.

It was not for nothing that the great poet Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore incorporated and immortalized the word ‘Sindh’ in the National Anthem. He was not referring to the four corners of the territorial land mass now called ‘Sindh’ (Province in Pakistan). His concept was much more wider, deeper, extensive and spiritual, covering the totality of ‘Mother India’ (Bharat Mata), confining everything in the comprehensive terms of the National Anthem. Here the word ‘Sindh’ will mean and signify literary, cultural, geographical, historical, spiritual, and every other thing that makes the glory of Sindh. Interpreting such a comprehensive term in that restricted, narrow and political entity will be doing a great injustice to Tagore and a traversity of truth.

Moreover, in the present frayed emotions of the people of India, raising such an emotive issue is fraught with dangerous consequences, especially when the Sindhis have already been grievously hurt by the trauma of Partition, which has piled on the community injustice that has caused great grievous hurt to the self respect of the community.

Sindhis are tolerant, peace-loving and law abiding people, but these qualities should not be taken as their weakness or cowardice. They should wake up and organize themselves to resist and fight such injustice unitedly.

“This is anti national”
BHARAT HARWANI – Managing Director, Win Cable and Internet Pvt. Ltd. :

When the great poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote “Jana Gana Mana” he referred to the cultures and people of India. Geographical boundaries cannot restrict, divide or segregate cultures. Deleting ‘Sindh’ from the National Anthem would be like breaking a part of the country. This is anti national.

Personalities like L. K Advani, Ram Jethmalani, Niranjan Hiranandani, J. T. Wadhwani, K. R. Malkani, Principal Kundnani – and many others have contributed tremendously to the country. The country cannot let this attempt succeed, I am certain.




My views expressed at the press conference were more or less in line with what appears in my editorial elsewhere in this issue; and hence does not warrant repetition.