Every few months I receive, generally from some well-meaning but unthinking source, a mail claiming that India’s national anthem was written in honour of Britain’s King George V. Today’s version begins “Did you know the following about our national anthem, I didnt (sic)” and ends “Please dont(sic) break the chain lets see how many people are coming to know about it” which suggests that it may have started life as a joke. Indeed it would be a joke if it didn’t show up in my inbox (and on numerous websites) with such regularity. As it is, it proves my contention that right-wingers have absolutely no sense of humour, irony or subtlety.
The true story, well described here, is that Tagore was asked to compose a song in the King’s honour in 1911 when he visited Calcutta; and he did write this song for that occasion. But the song is certainly not in the British king’s honour. It basically flips off the king by proclaiming that there is a higher deity that rules the land. But I suppose this point is too subtle for some.
It is exceedingly distasteful that Tagore, one of the greatest figures India has produced, a man who was associated with the freedom movement for decades, should have his patriotism questioned by the sort of scum who destroy historical archives and wreck hospitals, descendants of the scum who assassinated Gandhi. And it is repugnant that such rubbish continues its way around the world’s inboxes, forwarded by, as I said, well-meaning but unthinking people.
Meanwhile, over in the new world, Bush, who used his father’s influence to avoid combat, can persuade his people that Kerry, the Vietnam veteran, has a dodgy war record. I wonder where the right-wing, everywhere, gets such chutzpah.