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Monday, August 15, 2005


Independence day - 58

Greetings on the 58th anniversary of Independence.

So now that we realize that it was 58 years ago that India, as we know today, gained its independence from the British Raj, I just wanted to remind us that go ahead and enjoy the celebrations, but don’t ever forget what my forefathers gave up for it.

Patriotism and Indian music have long been blended together in countless melodies; in different moods, in different situations, in different genres of the Indian Cinema (Bollywood), yet all of them invigorate that pure feeling every time you hear them. And what better day to hear to them all, than on the day when we stood free... so come, let’s wander through the lanes of the most famous patriotic songs, and indulge in the flavor of patriotism...

The supreme... and the most sung...

Practically no Indian can forget the infectiousness song sung and re-sung; tuned and re-tuned, patriotism never reached such heights as with Vande Mataram. At this moment, I will just mention three versions which have mesmerized me each time I hear them. (FYI: "Vande Mataram" is derived from Sanskrit and means "I salute my motherland".)

Vande Mataram! Sujalam, suphalam,
malayaja shitalam, Shasyashyamalam,
Shubhrajyothsna pulakitayaminim
Phullakusumita drumadala shobinim
Suhasinim sumadhura bhashinim,
Sukhadam varadam, Mataram
(Sung fabulously by the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar for the movie Anand Math, this one boasts of the original lyrics, as written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, and remains one of the best tunes conveying the feelings of every Indian towards his motherland! Simply unbeatable!)

Ehasaas Thoda to Jagaaye Apne Dilon Mein Hum...Vande Mataram
Kya Naam Hai Apna Jahaan Mein, Khade Hain Kahaan Pe hum... Vande Mataram

(This version sung again by Lata Mangeshkar in 1998 holds one more value - that of realization of one’s responsibility in changing times. Powerfully composed by Ranjit Barot)

Maa Tujhhe Salaam Maa Tujhhe Salaam
Vande Vande Mataram Vande Vande Mataram Vande Vande Mataram Vande Vande
Rukna Kabhi Seekha Kahin Jhookna Hume Aata Nahin
Jab Tak Hai Jaan Jab Tak Hai Dum Badhte Rahenge Apne Kadam
Himmat Hai Jo To Rok Le Dharti Se Hum Darte Nahin
Apna Lahoo Kehta Hai Yeh Hum Veer Hai Marthe Nahin

(Released in 1997 at the confluence of India’s 50th Independence Day the song Vande Mataram was reborn, hitting the national consciousness, making those who had forgotten remember, and invigorating the young who have always taken freedom for granted. This one was sung with full gusto by the present music maestro A.R. Rehman, and remains one of the most powerful tunes ever sung for India, bringing together the rustiness, and the soul of Indian soil in the most brilliant blend ever heard of!)

As Rediff presents: "India is not just a country. It is our identity.
India enthrals, elevates and captivates. It can be infuriating, but those who know it love it unflinchingly.

India is my home and I like its diversity, cultural and intellectual wealth, the differences that co-exist and the visceral quality of life here. Further, after so many years of Independence (not sure about the freedom though) we have certainly moved ahead in the field of technology and science. There is definitely a surge towards development, but the progress is being defined in a very narrow manner. We need to re-imagine the definition of progress that we have today. Development also has brought with it a greater confusion. India no longer has the clarity on what it wants to be or how it wants to grow. I think when my parents were growing up they were clearer on what the country stood for and what it was about. I don't have that clarity or see it in my generation.

When I grew up watching movies like Purab aur Paschim and TV programs on Doordarshan and especially the ones like Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, I could identify with it and connect to it. However, today television seems regressive and I just can't identify with the images. Unfortunately, in India, the youth just listens and sees to what is given, instead of taking what it wants and rejecting the rest. There is very little critical thought and evaluation. For instance, we have everyone tuned-in to the MTV and everyone unwittingly jumps on to the MTV bandwagon. Very few lyrics in the bollywood songs make any sense unlike what we saw during the golden era (60’s to 80’s).

In general, it is my opinion that, we have such a great culture, amazing history and such a huge talent pool, and even if half of this is utilized appropriately by the country, there can be no one stopping India. Further, if we don't tackle corruption and unemployment, that have plagued the society, development will mean little as it will then not affect the masses. The need of the hour is general civic sense and honesty in all spheres of life.

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