I totally reject the idea that to say Bharat Mata ki Jai is against Islam. Such people are either trying to get cheap publicity or doing dirty politics
What is Bharat Mata? Is Bharat Mata a Goddess to prostrate to? Is Bharat Mata a slogan to be raised from roof tops? For me, Bharat Mata is neither an idol nor a slogan. For me, Bharat Mata is an idea not an idol, a concept, a belief. For me, Bharat Mata is all that is great and wonderful in this nation of 1.25 billion people. She is everyone’s mother who toils day and night to give best of life to her children. Who goes to sleep without food because she wanted her children to not go hungry? For me every Indian woman is the best example of a strong mother, a role model for all women of the world. I love, respect, cry, dance, smile, laugh with my Bharat Mata. I can’t reduce my Mata to a hollow slogan, which may be shouted but not felt. My mother who taught me compassion for the poor and underprivileged, my mother who had not an iota of disrespect or ill-will for any community, caste or creed was my Bharat Mata. Every time I think of Bharat Mata I think of my mother and cry for all that she did for me. How does it matter what I call her, Mader e Watan, ‘Mother India’ or just Maa, issue is my real love and respect for her.
Those people who are turning this idea into a dispute, on both sides of the spectrum, are doing utmost injustice, to every patriotic Indian and to our idea of Bharat Mata. I totally reject the idea that to say Bharat Mata ki Jai is against Islam. Such people are either trying to get cheap publicity or doing dirty politics. Even a few Ulemas, who issued a Fatwa on this issue have been rejected and made irrelevant by the Muslim community at large. In Islam intention (neeyat) is more important than action. If intention in raising the slogan is to show respect and love for our Mader e Watan, than its neither puja nor shirk. Majority of Indian Muslims have no problem in saying Vande Matram, as their ‘neeyat’ is not worship but praise for the Mother Land.
However, those who are using the slogan of Bharat Mata ki Jai, as the litmus test for Indians are doing injustice to our idea of nationalism and patriotism. I agree with the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwatji that such slogans should not be forced on anyone. If Ramdev talks of cutting lakhs of necks on this issue, than he is harming Hindu concept of tolerance. I have always believed that Indian society is the most plural, open, tolerant society in the world. I have no hesitation in saying that it is Hindu ethos and teachings, which make it so tolerant and open. Even Islam in India is much more tolerant than in any other part of the world. But to talk of cutting necks or issuing fatwas on this issue is going against the Hindustani ethos of tolerance.
The JNU issue has forced us to discuss Nationalism in an age when borders are crumbling, world is changing into a global village; humanity is rising above narrow concepts of sovereignty and nationalism. Lets learn positive lessons from JNU episode and give a broader, human, and more elaborated interpretation to our idea of “Bhartiyata”, which is much more than Western idea of narrow nationalism. Let’s not question patriotism of our fellow Indians, let’s show our tolerance and win over hearts in a way that every Indian on his own shouts Bharat Mata ki Jai and those few who raise slogans against the unity and integrity of our nation, become objects of ridicule and are isolated.
Those who question the patriotism of every Muslim, and want them to prove it every moment, by shouting a few slogans, are in fact helping the enemies of our nation. None should have to carry his or her Bhartiyata on their sleeves. None should have the right to question the Rashtra Bhakti of another Indian. Whenever Bharat Mata is threatened we all have come together to protect it and will do the same whenever it is in danger. Today real threat to the nation is not from a few slogan shouting fools, but from environmental, economic and various global issues. Lets come together to serve our Motherland instead of trying to score cheap political points over the idea of Bharat Mata.
(The writer is former Rajya Sabha MP and chief editor of Urdu weekly Nai Duniya)