We all know that the national anthem of Bangladesh, Amar Shonar Bangla, is written by Rabindranath Tagore. Now, Tagore may be associated more with India than with Bangladesh, but, then, that is why his song becoming the national anthem of Bangladesh says something about the spirit of the Bangla nationhood. Interesting post on this story is here. An excerpt:
In early 1971, radical students chose Amar Shonar Bangla as Free Bengal’s national anthem, and when the war ended, the new republic’s leaders endorsed it. Why did they choose the song? For that matter, why did they choose the red and green flag?
From all accounts, the song was chosen because of its evocation of the rural landscape — mango groves and paddy fields, perennial features of Mother Bengal. And that’s what the green in the flag meant to the more radical students, though for others green symbolised Islam. But it was stressed that everyone was very conscious about choosing inclusive icons.
This contrasts sharply with Bangladesh’s neighbours. The Pakistan Movement adopted the crescent, unsurprisingly alienating all non-Muslims in the lands that became Pakistan. Indian nationalism claimed to be inclusive, espousing secularism as a fundamental value. But Gandhi’s Ram Rajya did not appeal to Muslims, nor did the spinning wheel, which everyone thought symbolised eternal — that is, pre-Islamic — India (quite ironic, really, as according to Irfan Habib, the earliest known reference to the spinning wheel in South Asia is a 1350 polemic urging Raziya Sultana to give up Delhi’s masnad and take up spinning, the ‘inescapable inference’ being the device having a Muslim provenance).
So, Bangladesh made a conscious effort of being inclusive at its foundation. Something to celebrate on its 40th birthday, surely?
Yes, it is, but…
Ashish Rajadhyaksha of CSCS, Bangalore, has begun a book titled The Last Cultural Mile, which he plans to write online as a public act. A novel idea. I hope its interactive part doesnt become pervert as sometimes happens with online writings. For the experiment to succeed we as public are also responsible. We should readily take part in the debates the book sets off.
Dear world. This is the first time I am trying such a thing. What I want to do is to write my book, which I have for the moment titled ‘The Last Cultural Mile’, as a public online act. I suppose it doesn’t especially matter to me how many people actually read this: it’s more to do with writing this in public, so to say: to see what this does to my writing, as practice and as discipline. I hope to write simpler. I also hope to write more regularly, since I am making this into a public duty. There will be more to say about the public nature of this. Since I work on my texts over and over again, I will keep changing this text, and at the same time adding new chapters to the book. Let me see how this piece of unmoulded rock can be hewn into shape as the world – meaning of course the three and a half people who do care – watches.
Years ago, inspired by the new journalism that was fashionable when I was young (and myself a journalist) I tried speedwriting, typing on my Royal typewriter whatever occurred to my head, as fast as I could, ensuring – in, I imagined, the grand tradition of Tom Wolfe and the abstract expressionists behind him – that, whatever happened, I would change not a word: that this will be my consciousness speaking unmediated, so to say. This is close, and perhaps a useful update on that technology: for here I CAN change, and yet it is pure consciousness speaking. (I tried many things then: to work with the xxx marks that showcased error when I thought I would be inspired by Tagore’s doodles) then to type on teleprinter rolls so as to eliminate the tyranny of the A-4 page. The important thing about such consciousness always being to try and discover what my book is actually about only as I write it, or even – who knows – after it’s all done….
Go here for more.