Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Sunday said “forcible singing” of the national anthem would turn the passionate hymn into a “humdrum chant”.
Delivering the 2nd Justice VR Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi said monoculturalism cannot work in India and it was impossible for anyone to “homogenise and monopolise” the great diversity and plurality of the country.
“I love my national anthem. It is among the greatest anthems in the world. And I will sing it with full heart...but to be asked to sing it under an order is to turn the passionate hymn into a humdrum chant of official lining,” Gandhi said.
According to the former diplomat, “fear, distress and money” ruled the country these days.
Stating that monoculturalism cannot work in India and monopolies were wrong in themselves, Gandhi said there were people who believed that the country could be brought under a “particular kind of rule and domination”.
Such people would like to see the diversity of India “frozen and shrunken to one particular kind of language, one script, one predominant identity, one dominant language and one mega book”, he added.
“India is about variety. It is also about choices...and if India denies those choices, India denies itself. Diversity is equally important and a hallmark of civilisation,” Gandhi said.
He said it would be equally ridiculous if neighbouring Pakistan or Bangladesh made their people speak only one language, profess only one religion, read only the Holy Quran and sing only their national anthem.
Gandhi also batted for bringing all the political parties within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
The governments and political parties had some kind of a “fear” to face the statute, he said.
The government’s intention to “whiten the cash composition of the country” could be considered genuine only if it made it obligatory for all the political parties, including the ruling party, to disclose the identities of its donors, he added.
Activists Prashant Bhushan, Aruna Roy and Madhava Menon also took part in the event organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), along with the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Common Cause and Deseeya Vivaravakasha Kottayam-Keralam.