January 26, 2013

The National Anthem of India

The singing of the national anthem along with the hoisting of the national flag is principal activity in any Republic Day event. On the occasion of the 64th Republic Day, I have tried to track down some unusual renditions of this very interesting song.

The anthem as we know it today, in the words and tunes of Rabindranath Tagore is not the first official version of the anthem even though it was unveiled for the first time at the 1911 convention of the Indian National Congress.

Many of us recognise the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind or the Provisional Government of Free India, set up by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Singapore on October 21, 1943 as the first post-colonial Indian government with its own currency, courts of law and civil code. Subhas Bose recognized Tagore's song as the anthem but because he wanted to give it a national flavour he had the sanskritized Bengali transcreated by  Col Abid Hassan as "Sabh Sukh Chain" and set to tune by Capt Ram Mohan. This was published in the form of gramophone records from Tokyo and sung at all Government events including Bose's tragic farewell from his officers in the closing days of the WWII.

Here are the lyrics taken from Wikipedia
--First stanza--
Subh sukh chain ki barkha barse,
Bharat bhaag hai jaaga.
Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha,
Dravid, Utkal, Banga,
Chanchal sagar, Vindh, Himaalay,
Neela Jamuna, Ganga.
Tere nit gun gaayen,
Tujh se jivan paayen,
Har tan paaye asha.
Suraj ban kar jag par chamke,
Bharat naam subhaga,
Jai ho, jai ho, jai ho,
Jai, jai, jai, jai ho.
--Second stanza--
Sab ke dil mein preet basaaey,
Teri meethi baani.
Har sube ke rahne waale,
Har mazhab ke praani,
Sab bhed aur farak mita ke,
Sab god mein teri aake,
Goondhe prem ki mala.
Suraj ban kar jag par chamke,
Bharat naam subhaga,
Jai ho, jai ho, jai ho,
Jai, jai, jai, jai ho.
--Third stanza--
Subh savere pankh pakheru,
Tere hi gun gayen,
Baas bhari bharpur hawaaen,
Jeevan men rut laayen,
Sab mil kar Hind pukare,
Jai Azad Hind ke nare.
Pyaara desh hamara.
Suraj ban kar jag par chamke,
Bharat naam subhaga,
Jai ho, jai ho, jai ho,
Jai, jai, jai, jai ho.

For a variety of reasons, the Constituent Assembly in 1950 decided to revert to the original lyrics of Tagore and the same was formally accepted as the National Anthem of India. Here you have Rabindranath Tagore himself singing the song.

There is another video with Tagore's voice but I think it is a fake. But here is the link anyway.

Here is another unusual and touching rendition of the anthem by deaf children.

The anthem played by a rock band ! In tune with the times I suppose

The anthem being played by the Indian Army at Siachen, the highest active battlefield in the world

And here is the anthem by the veritable A list of the India's musicians

But in all this, let us not forget the first song that was used to raise the banner of revolt against colonial rule and created the slogan that became the rallying cry for the Indian independence movement. Written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and inserted into his classic novel, Ananda Math, it was sung with great fervour by every Indian nationalist patriot on every occasion and even while being led to the gallows of a British jail. Its words "Vande Mataram" is the standard greeting used in any event of the Indian National Congress party and many others.

Here is a rather jingoist rendition of the song from the movie Ananda Math

and here is the official version of the same

Unfortunately it lost out to the current national anthem because of its referral to the country as being equivalent to the divine fell foul of the politically correct interpretation of secularism. But because of its intimate association with the nationalist movement it is officially accepted as the National Song of India.

Here is another contemporary rendition of the same song arranged by Bickram Ghosh
Jai Hind

January 24, 2013

Moyna Garh

Moyna Garh is a very unusual tourist spot that we discovered near Tamluk in East Midnapur. It was a fort with two moats surrounding it and it looks like an island inside an island. The fort has now been swallowed up by time but there are two ancient and very beautiful temples that are still there.

These are some of the pictures that we took there

the few boats that are available to ferry people had stopped plying by the time we reached around noon. However we managed to motivate on boatman to allow us the use of this rickety boat to reach the inner island

This is a very ancient Radha Krishna temple. It comes alive during the Ras Festival in October-November

This is the deity that is taken out in a beautiful, illuminated boat on the occasion of the Ras Festival

This is the Noukeshwar Shiva temple. The Noukeshwar ( Lord of the Boats ) shivalinga is deep underground and the place gets flooded during the monsoon floods

In celebration of Lord Noukeshwar


This is a Dargah that the Raja's of Moyna Garh have allowed to be built in their fort

Moyna Garh is not too difficult to reach. Take the Bombay Road ( NH6) to Kolaghat and then turn south on the Haldia Highway and drive to Nouturi ( about 20 km). Turn right towards Srirampur and drive 12 km. Once you reach the town of Moyna ask for the Raj Bari

January 06, 2013

Passport for Students : Recognising Mobility

Navigating through a government office is a nightmare in India and it is doubly so when you are student and you are looking for your first passport. I went through this wringer twenty eight years ago and I was disappointed to see that even today, my son -- and many other students like him, whom we met at the passport office -- have to go through the same inordinate difficulty to get something that should come to them, literally, as a birthright. In fact, had it not been for a friendly senior police officer who introduced us to senior officers in the passport office, my son and I would still be running from pillar to post.

The number of hours waiting in the passport office gave me ample time to understand the process and I am sure that there is a better way to address the matter. That will be the subject of a different post. Here, let me suggest a simple mechanism that will benefit hundreds of students who are applying for passport for the first time.

The crux of the matter lies in the fact that a passport application needs police verification from ALL locations where the student has been residing for more than one year. In today's scenario, almost every student studies in a college that is located far away from his "permanent" residence where his parents live -- more often than not in a different state at the other corner of the country. In principle, the police at the distant location is supposed to send in the verification certificate to the passport office at the home location within a reasonable amount of time but this NEVER, EVER happens. Thanks to a set of circumstances that include the extremely slow postal service and the persistent demand for gratuity by set of empowered people this process takes ages. Students have to keep visiting the passport office, stand in queue for hours for hours and are finally told that the certificate has not come ! "Please check with the other police station". A quick visit to the passport office will reveal that on any day, at least ten students stuck on the limbo.

There is an alternative to this approach. If one can get hold of a friendly senior government officer who is willing to give a character certificate then in principle one get a Tatkal passport but the devil is in the detail. First the character certificate must conveniently omit to mention that the student is living away from home and more importantly, the student must have the confidence to look the passport office in the eye and tell a blatant lie that he is sitting at home and doing nothing ! If he can do that, the passport is through, but unfortunately students in general are not congenital liars and innocently, they tell the truth that they are studying in some distant college. That is when all hell breaks loose ....

Having lived through this, we have discovered that there is still a legitimate path through  the system but unfortunately this is not documented anywhere and needs to be discovered, very painfully, by each hapless student. In this case, the character certificate needs to be amended to show permanent and current addresses AND a bona fide certificate needs to obtained from the college.

Question is : If the bonafide certificate from the college is acceptable in the case of a Tatkal passport character certificate then why can the same not be used in lieu of the second, remote, police verification in the normal passport application route ?

My humble suggestion is in the case of students studying away from their home town, the need for a police verification from the college location can be replaced with a bonafide certificate from the head of  -- say AICTE approved -- college. The student can obtain this certificate beforehand and  attach this certificate with the formal application. In this case there will be one police verification at the students home location. Removal of this one single step will go a long way in reducing the time, and effort of chasing matters across multiple locations, needed for a student to get the passport.

It may be argued that a student may have been involved in anti-social activities at his college that the college may not be aware of and it is imperative to get inputs from the local police. True, there is a finite non zero probability of this happening but this is very small. Taking a small risk on this front would lead to great relief for many thousands of students all across the country and perhaps the government can take this risk. After all no law enforcement process can ever be 100% fool-proof --as otherwise each citizen at all points of time need to be under continuous surveillance. Statistics tell us that in "Testing of Hypotheses" there are two kinds of errors : Type I - incorrect rejection of a true hypothesis and Type II - failure to reject a false hypothesis. In our case the hypothesis is that the applicant is a criminal but statistics tells us we can never, ever reduce the probability of both errors, simultaenously, to zero.

Under these circumstances it may make sense to do away with the need for that second police verification and issue a passport to students on the basis of one police verification and a bonafide certificate from the college. This will provide a very big relief to many young people without seriously endangering the safety and security of India.

January 01, 2013

Sarbamangala Temple, Keshiary

New year excursion to this little known Shakti temple near Kharagpur. A rustic temple where you might experience presence.