Vande Mataram

November 22, 2009

(Totally unrelated thought, why is it that so many languages’ words for “mother” start with an ‘m’ and sound vaguely similar?)

Vande Mataram is the national song of India– not to be confused with the national anthem– and it translates as “I bow to my mother(land).” I was listening to a radio show today on my way from church, and one of the stories centered on this song, specifically on a controversy about it. It’s a perfect example of what I talked about in my paper.

Hinduism is far and away the predominant religious faith in India, but Islam is second with around 161 million adherents in the country. Some– and I have to emphasize that this doesn’t seem to be the predominant view– Muslims have issued a fatwa declaring that singing the song is counter to Islamic belief and that no Muslim should sing it. Guess what has happened in return? Some Hindu nationalists have decided to question the patriotism of Muslims and have declared that anyone who won’t sing the song should just leave.

We have to understand a bit of the history behind all this, first. India and Pakistan used to be the same thing, but after independence the two territories were partitioned. Obviously a lot of Muslims were still in India after partition, and relations between them and the Hindu majority can get tense. This is a great example of two differing cultures not coming to the table in good faith.

It’s all well and good to hold the belief that the words contained in the song constitute a violation of the Islamic injunction against worshipping anything other than God. Fine. But that’s a personal interpretation of the words of the song, and if a person understands the lyrics metaphorically and wants to sing them in gratitude to the country they live in there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to. The religious rule is just silly. Equally silly is the reaction, though. In the story Muslims reacted to the suggestion that they be forced to sing the song by saying in effect, “I don’t mind singing the song; it doesn’t bother me. But if they try to make me sing it, I will not comply.” The reactionists should just back off and let the Muslims sort this one out, because if they interfere it will only exacerbate tensions that have existed ever since the country gained its independence. It seems like a small thing, but small things add up.


Totally unrelated topic(s):

I’m currently very frustrated at the disconnect in US education between the schooling we get and what the job market expects of us when we enter. After four years of private school (Which were certainly a financial mistake) and a year of master’s work, I need to have a job. Good luck to me. This isn’t even a function of the current job environment, as I remember things being like this before the economy tanked. I want to do public service jobs, which don’t exactly pay great. One other problem? They require experience. Experience I don’t have and can’t get unless someone hires me. I understand that I need to volunteer and take internships, and I’ve done those things. I’m looking at job postings asking for three to four year’s experience, with no entry level positions offered. I can’t do three to four years of volunteering and interning. I have loans to pay off, so I can’t afford to not be making money. Maybe four years of school works for people going into business or education, but it seems to me that the university system doesn’t really serve public servants very well.

Finally, I’m finding it kind of interesting to see the reactions across the board as the realization of just how bad the economy is truly sinks in. The meltdown has pushed me further away from capitalism, and I’m seeing others echo that sentiment. Capitalism is (at it’s root) based on people’s willingness to take advantage of each other, and to me the poverty of that economic stance has been laid bare by the current mess. But others, friends even, are doubling down on capitalism, insisting that it just needs to be done right in order to work. I assume that these feelings are really just reflections of where we already were before the crisis hit, and everything subsequent has just been a confirmation of that. Kind of annoying.


3 Responses to “Vande Mataram”

  1. Mom said

    Don’t be frustrated by the experience thing. Lots of people say that in their ads, but if you have the passion and can show that passion and your ability to be a quick learner, they will bypass the experience for your enthusiasm.

    You are right about the whole educational system NOT preparing you for how to get a job. That’s why I’ve been trying to talk to you about this over the last year or two (but you didn’t really want to listen to my suggestions).

    When I was in college, I took many business and secretarial classes that helped me learn how to best prepare myself for the job market, including resumes, interviews, etc. Even in high school, I deviated from the “college-bound” classes my senior year to keep taking secretarial and home ec classes because (1) I liked them and was good at them and (2) I knew they would be relevant in my life. That is why I never “forced” you and Jacob to take Calculus in high school – I knew you would not use it or need it in your future careers.

    Right now, the emphasis in education is on Rigor and Relevance. Well, the third part of that equation actually includes Relationships. It’s the part that most administrator’s forget about because they are so worried about their rankings and test scores. However, if we spent more time making good relationships with our students, we would know more about what they really want to do with their lives, and we could help them make decisions that will actually be relevant. Then, the rigor can be focused on their area of relevance, instead of on the area that the state thinks is important.

    That’s why I do what I do. But, that’s also why I get so stressed out and frustrated. It’s hard to fight when you feel like you’re in the minority view.

    In the meantime, now that you know that this is an area in which you need help (finding a job, marketing yourself), you can do something about it. There are many good books and, I’m sure, websites that will help you get the education you are missing. You are a big boy now and you can take the bull by the horns and do this. However, you might need to open yourself up to asking for help from someone – and no, it doesn’t have to be me – just someone whom you know has the knowledge in this area and will help to mentor you.

    I love you and I know there are great things in your future and in the futures of the many lives you will touch.

  2. Evan said

    I too know what you mean, Chris. In the past year, even before our semester abroad, I came to realize that history majors are essentially useless for procuring a job in American society, beyond becoming a teacher of course. I think we might do well to adopt the pragmatism of John Dewey. As you probably know already, Dewey promoted the notion that students should be active participants in their own education. That is to say that by participating actively, as opposed to merely using rote memorization, students will be able to understand what they truly enjoy.

    There is a danger, of course, in this sort of approach to education. There’s a fine line between promoting a student to develop his own interests and molding a student to fit society’s needs.

  3. Katie said

    I have to say, I would have been most grateful if my high school would have offered, no, REQUIRED a few courses to learn how to do practical things like cooking and budget balancing (I guess that would be along the home ec lines, eh?). Ideally, of course, our parents should be teaching us that instead of leaving it solely up to the school… In my “economics” class my senior year we played “stock market,” listened to classic rock, and worked on homework for other classes.

    I feel like my high school totally underestimated the students’ will to learn something applicable. Students who excelled in academics were pushed toward tougher, brainier work and most of us (myself included) only learned how to learn. Now, 5 years later I’m just learning how to feed myself decently, I feel “overqualified” for jobs that I should be happy to take and underqualified for those that I would really want. All I’m qualified for is to rack up more student loans on another degree that won’t get me anywhere if I don’t have the practical skills to use it in the real world. In general I’m just woefully equipped to be a functional part of a functional society.

    Whew! Okay, the steam has been blown off. haha

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