Anthem Mayhem

We all must have witnessed a sporting event in person or on TV where the national anthem of a country is played as an instrumental piece. It delighted me to see an African athlete once singing the anthem to the instrumental tune. Everyone was standing to pay tribute to the winning nation, but only he was singing with his head held high. Singing his national anthem infront of thousands of spectators was a moment of pride for him, more than maybe winning a medal itself.

Anyhow, a bit of a controversy has erupted on the patriotic front, against Mr. Narayana Murthy, the man behind Infosys (one of India’s largest IT services firm). The question asked to him recently was why was the Indian national anthem the national anthem played out on an electronic instrument and not sung during a recent visit by the President of India to the Mysore campus of Infosys. Well, the constitution of India does not have anything against the instrumental or vocal versions of the anthem. What stunned me was Mr. Murthy’s reply to this controversy, “We have a lot of foreigners. We didn’t want them to be embarrassed, when they are silent and others are singing. So this was fine.” I think more than the nature of the anthem itself, his remark caused a bit of a criticism. Well he apologized later, to the jingoistic. I wonder, if many of us could just feel a fraction (rather than reacting by the dozen) of what that African athlete must have felt. Let me remind myself, that someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

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