Is it Vande Mataram or Bande Baatram ?

September 3, 2006

I go to play Tennis early morning but because of the rains could not do so today. Since I had woken up early , I thought might as well do some blogging. I read a couple of new blogs on Vande Mataram. After that , I read the newspaper, where I saw the Hindustan Times editor, Mr Vir Sanghvi  himself writing a full feature in the Sunday edition(3/9/06). Then I realized that it was a big controversy.

About 3-4 years ago, when the BJP was in power, they issued some order by which you heard the word “Vande Mataram” everytime you picked up a phone to dial somebody. Does a coining of a slogan make anybody patriotic? Similarly the founding fathers of the constitution coined the word “Satyameva Jayate”. Today, even a child knows that the single most discredited people in this context are the politicians. I even recall reading somewhere that Mrs Sonia Gandhi had expressed surprise and concern that the mere mention of the word politician implied corruption.

Anybody can coin a slogan and shout over the rooftops but does that change anything.? Endless verbal gymnastics over  anon-issue  is nothing but a lot of intellectual masturbation. If the Mahatma had the advantage of today’s information revolution and mass communication,  he would have become popular at least four times faster. Former Lintas chairman Mr Alyque Padamsee in his book, “A double life says” Gandhiji also had this incredible knack of speaking in homilies and one=liners. Like “An eye for an eye making the whole world blind” is a marvelous summation of  non-violence. In my opinion, one of the greatest slogans coined in our country is “Quit India”. In just two words, it gave all Indians a nationalistic rally point. A good slogan emotionalizes the message. It acts as a guiding star.”

The difference is that the Mahatma blended style and substance very well and nearly always walked the talk by saying things like “Be the change that you would like to see in the world.” Even if you compare the Mahatma ;s integrity as a lawyer to some of today’s lawyers, it really makes you wonder what is the point in endless verbal interactions.. If anybody has read Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, it is clear that he was a very sincere man where public service was concerned:-


It would not be out of place to mention here that former PM Indira Gandhi had coined the slogan “Garibi hatao” but actually it was former PM Narsimha Rao and his finance minister and current Prime minister Manmohan singh who set the ball rolling by introducing liberalization in 1992 and that too after being forced by circumstances.

Last week, in We, the people on NDTV, Vande Matram happened to be the topic of discussion. In the end, one gentleman summed it up well when he said, “ I have never sung Vande Mataram in my life. Does that mean that I am less patriotic than you?”. It is a foregone conclusion that nobody should either force somebody to sing the song or not sing the song if the person so desires. Using force is stupid and what is the point in superficial singing anyway. I like “Saarre jahan se accha” over the rest and it is my prerogative to sing whichever I want to.

Some politicians say something absurd(baat) to get votes and arouse emotions over a non-issue and some elements in the  media go overboard in verbal chain reactions( baat)  to get more eyeballs rather then using it power to make things more transparent and make public servants more accountable.

The Mahatma did walking before the talking . God knows when another will emerge and walks the talk. We are clearly missing the wood for the trees. It is talk, talk, talk and nothing but talk- it is not Vande Mataram but Bande Baatram. Sab bande(people) bolte hi rahte hain. I hope the trend reverses someday or else , because of non-performance, it may become a case of  Dande laatram( Sticks and kicks till the public servant ticks). This may not be a reflection on all public servants but the general perception in the eyes of the public leaves a lot to be desired.

This blog has the English version of the song along with the videocast and podcast-


(I saw the movie  “lage raho Munnabhai” on 5/9/2006. It reminded me of this post because of the continous references to Gandhiji and Vande maatram in the movie but that’s just a coincidence. It is a very good movie and it is good that movies such as this and Rang De Basanti are at least trying to inculcate a kind of national consciousness and aprising the younger gerneration of the past in a langauage they can relate to.)



  1. Never knew what vande mataram meant till the muslims protested, still no idea about the words

  2. I agree that a person need not sing a National Song/Anthem to be patriotic. Should a person who is religious know all the prescribed prayers to be closer to the God?
    More of my thoughts on this subject at:


  3. Very true, and I also believe simply uttering Vande Mataram doesn’t make anyone more patriotic. What do these words mean? What do they mean for me? Those answers need to be ingrained in my mind before these words have any effect.

    However, “Quit India” is more meaningful and powerful. Gandhiji as far as history tells walked before he did the talk, and that’s what makes him different from the rest of the ‘politician race’ that we have today. What was Sonia Gandhi surprised about?

  4. it’s true, words are cheap.

  5. I agree…do the walking b4 the talking! Well-said.

    btw I read ur 9/11 poem…brilliant msg!

    **Applied spirituality needs to be as successful as applied science

    Totally agree.

    tnxxx for giving me that link. U write so well Hiren.


  6. Dear Hiren,

    Email me. Want to talk with you.

    Cheers, Rohit

  7. To me Vande mataram sounds much patriotic cos I associate it thus. Guess its all in the way the mind is programed.

  8. Our politicians have indeed seen to it that ‘Vande Mataram’ becomes a mere ‘Bandey Baataram’.I couldn’t agree more. Let us however not take them for an example of any worth and value.Think rather of the silent crowd quietly doing their bit for the masses.They are the one’s who sustain the Gandhian Legacy.

  9. Yea…. either its the problems… or the thought of problems so deeply implanted by media n movies… the percieved state of india has gotten worse.

    do we really think that thr is no bright side? or is it tht nobody want to look at that and media doesn’t show it, coz it doesn’t sell? or has it become a catch-22?

    watevr the case may be (although i’m inclined towards opinion tht these are real problems all around) Indian people are not happy. we fight amongst us all the times (u can c everywhr, in queues etc) and hinder our own growth.

    and any word is powerful, if you repeat it 50 times.. . try it. its the leader who gives it weight..;)

    sry for the big n jhilaitis comment though.. 🙂

  10. Frankly speaking, School going kids don’t give a damn what they are made to sing. I was brought up in a christian convent where we sang hymns every friday in the sweltering heat. We used to sing because we had to and sometimes I even enjoyed singing them. That hasn’t made me a christian in anyway. Hence any song you give any school child, he will mug it up and sing it ‘cos he has no option and it doesn’t make an inch of difference to his religion and his sense of patriotism. It’s only the grown ups who are making a huge fuss about it. Vande Mataram or Chamma Chamma, it don’t matter!!

  11. You hv touched the right chord boss.. Lets ponder at the argument of the islamists.. They say tht vande mataram is from ananda matha which is predominantly anti-islam.. Bjp needs to know the history of our country than just forcing the population of bjp states to sing..

  12. Hi Hiren..nice to see your blog…thanks for your visit.The post was good too, very thought provoking. Will keep visiting here often. See ya TC

  13. Hiren, the fonts are screwed up for many posts (uneven size). Try viewing in Opera/Firefox. Just thought of letting you know.

  14. geez i wonder why people get so worked up about trivial stuff when there are far more real and bigger problems to get all knotted up about…

  15. You are dead right and this malaise is everywhere…definitely more so in politics. I could spend half a day counting all the folk I meet who talk about making a difference blah blah and follow it up with zilch action. Vande Mataram is a relic of the past and just an issue to be raked up to suit the ruling party’s convenience. I for one believe in a national anthem, but a national song..hmm..as for the national anthem sung in cinema halls…dunno, never made me feel patriotic, just a bit idiotic, staring at the screen.

  16. Indian Politicians are largely corrupt, that is the reason the word Politician brings Corruption to Mind.
    And the word Sarkari BABU or Bureaucrat, brings INEFFICIENCY, RED TAPE, and Useless Folks to mind.

    Read More:

  17. hmmmm…. very true…its idiotic…

  18. Its true, that singing national song or anthem doesn’t make anyone a nationalist. These politicians sing national song and anthem in so many public ceremonies, but does this brand them as patriotic?
    Good post after a long wait. Hope to rad more of like these soon.

  19. I like the heading of your posts. 🙂

  20. I guess the big brouhaha over Vande Mataram was purely unanticipated by the government. It was the centenary of the song and I personally see nothing wrong in school children singing the song to show respect to the verses which was once adopted as mantra by many a martyr! If Imam Bukhari hadn’t started the whole anti-Islam angle, it would have been a peaceful event not worth so much debate. Yes, given that no state should be allowed to force the citizens to “sing” any particular song and also singing the national song or anthem doesn’t really make anyone a patriot. This whole hype was created and propagated by the media and a certain faction of the society who rely on the raw emotions of under-educated mass to keep their vote-banks filled.

    Also, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  21. Its just words now. The spirit has been long lost

  22. Words have great Power and the power of words is undeniable. So much so, that the pen has often been called mightier than the sword.

    That said, it is also important that words dont just remain words but become a motivation to act. The reason for singing Vande Matram in the first place was to induce a feeling of Patriotism in the masses. There is no reason that this song should not have the same effect now. All we need to do is believe in our selves and our country, which despite all its faults is still beautiful.

  23. ya buddy,
    vande matram can not be implimented through force..

  24. wow that is very well written post! pls dont say that youth is sleeping for they have already awaken just give us time u will see the change.

  25. Hi Hiren,

    I have been a silent reader of your blog for quiet some time.
    This post left me rolling out with laughter.
    Satire and humuour at its best.


  26. Hiren,

    Its refreshing to see a blog talk about the current affairs in India. Though we all know whats going on, its another thing to express it clearly and precisely. Though I would like to add that History is written only by the people in the front. For every great hero like Gandhi there are thousands others who are not even known. I try to maintain a neutral outlook towards Gandhi, Bose or Nehru..but its difficult sometimes 🙂

    Thank you for your visit and your insights. I appreciate it:P Sincerely,

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