"I have a plan, a very effective plan. They say they are tolerant. Let them say it. We will hit them hard. If they don't do anything, we will hit them again. Abuse them, their family; abuse the nation. Once they say anything to us, we will paint the canvas blue... yes, we will prove that they are intolerant."
Something much like above must have been there while our country was going through the fabricated 'intolerant' phase of times. Scholars, intellectuals, leaders, Bollywood stars, sports persons, foreigners and simply anyone who wished a little fame have fully utilized that opportunity and said everything they had to say about India. While we are still coming out of that dilemma, blow after blow is coming from the other side. It had not been a day since the Sangh Parivar head Mohan Bhagwat had said that there is no need to force anyone to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai. It was supposed to be the ceasefire of this slogan debate. Nevertheless, the self-proclaimed historian of the country, Irfan Habib, who is publicly known for his 'bizarre predictions' about the Indian history, has come up with another gallon of petrol to flame the debate again. To Mr. Irfan Habib, Bharat Mata is a European import! What an idea, sir! This time, Irfan Habib has proved that he will always be there to draw new lines of controversies...
I find it an important coincidence that he was delivering a lecture to the JNU students when he told them that Bharat Mata has nothing to do with India's ancient or medieval past. Notions about motherland and fatherland are basically European. I find it very interesting that Irfan Habib might not have gone through the 'ancient' scripture of Indians, The Ramayana. In Ramayana, there are instances where the native place of lord Ram has been personified. I will rely on the best example so that Irfan Habib has no problem in understanding it:
Api Swarnamayi Lankaa na me Lakshmana rochate
Janani Janmabhumishcha Swargaadapi Gariyasi &
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च जाह्नवी च जनार्दनः।
जनकः पञ्चमश्चैव जकाराः पञ्च दुर्लभाः॥
(only if Mr. Habib could decipher it)
In the text above, in Sanskrit & English, it's conspicuous that Ram denotes Ayodhya as 'motherland'. Does anyone have doubts about the origin of Ramayan composed by Valmiki? It's more than what any historian with jaundiced eyes can deem as ancient or medieval.
What I can extract out of this current controversial statement by Mr. Irfan Habib is that he does want people to settle. He wishes India to keep fighting over slogans. I am right, aren't I? However, indeed, it's again the classic case of freedom of expression. One has the right secured by the constitution of India to express his/her opinions...
My take on the statement made by Mr. Habib is very simple. If Habib thinks that the notion of motherland and Bharat Mata is a foreign import, Mr. Habib must be on the side of thinkers who believe that Islam and Paigambar Mohammad have nothing to do with each-other! If not so, then Mr. Habib, please understand that Indians have always been worshipping their land - the motherland. In India, we personify anything we worship. Sun is God for us; Moon is God for us; the Neem tree is God for us; Tulsi is mother & Goddess for us; and of course, India is Bharat Mata for us. Exercise your freedom of speech freely. What you rant cannot affect the 'notions' that we have very dear to us and not 'imported' like your ideologies. Do you want to listen?
Bharat Mata ki Jai!