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'Vande Mataram'

Vande Mataram

On Tuesday, while hearing a plea by one Veeramani that his answer 'Bengali' for the question "In which language Vande Mataram was written" was marked wrong by the Teacher's Recruitment Board, Justice Muralidharan of Madras High Court ruled that the petitioner's answer was correct, asking the state government to consider the petitioner's candidature and pronounced: "Vande Mataram should be sung in all schools, government offices, private entities, and industries in the state of Tamil Nadu." Not only that, he made it clear that in the event, any person/organisation has difficulty in singing or playing the song, they shall not be compelled or forced to sing it, provided there are valid reasons for not doing so. Justice Muralidharan said the schools must sing the National Song at least once in a week, preferably on Monday or Friday. Offices shall sing at least once in a month. If people are not comfortable in singing the Sanskrit Song, let the song be translated into Tamil, he proclaimed. Ending his decree, he further said the youth are the future of this country and this order shall be taken in the right vigour and implemented in letter and spirit. In the recent times, the judiciary in India appears to be toughening its stand on issues relating to nationalism.

In November 2016, the Supreme Court had made it mandatory for cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem before a movie and show the national flag on the screen when the anthem is played. The courts, at least, appear to believe that enforcing national symbols — such as the national anthem and the national song — on a citizen is an ideal way to grow a patriotic society. On the other hand, the courts also give the impression to be contradicting on the issue of the national song. In February this year, the Supreme Court had declined to entertain a plea to direct the Centre to frame a national policy to promote Vande Mataram saying that there is no concept of a national song. Noting that the Article 51A (fundamental duties) of the Constitution, which requires to promote and propagate the national anthem and the national flag, does not refer to the national song, a Supreme Court bench had said, "It only refers to the national flag and national anthem. Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the national song is concerned." The question here is that given the Supreme Court's observation, why would the high court impose singing of the national song on the people of a state when the apex court has observed that national song isn't a concept in the Constitution? Here opens the door for yet another dispute on nationalism, and the confusion continues to prevail!

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