As the mascot of the new, emerging, rising, shining, strident, resurgent, pumped-up India id est Bharat, Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy wears the tricolour on his cuff links. So, you would think that his hairs would stand on end hearing the National Anthem being sung on his campuses.
Well, think again.
The President (the real one) was in Mysore on Sunday. But what greeted A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was not the mellifluous rendition of Rabindranath Tagore‘s poem by human beings, but—in the grand tradition of call centres that India’s IT “revolution” somewhat exemplifies—a prerecorded electronic version that sounded more like a cheap non-polyphonic cellphone ringtone.
Reason? Hear it from the host of the show.
Yes, you read that right.
The foreigners should not be embarrassed while we sing our national anthem.
Infosys said last year it had some 1,800 foreigners on its rolls. But there are no precise figures on how many foreigners were at the Infosys Leadership Institute aka the Mysore campus, which is designed to seat 6,400 students, yesterday. But it is on record that it had offered jobs to 126 students from 82 foreign universities last year.
Even if that figure of foreigners is ten times greater, does it mean Mr Murthy’s company is willing to slavishly mute his nation’s anthem for their sake?
Unfortunately, batting for the national anthem has become a Bajrang Dal exercise which is not quite the politically correct party in the land of churumuri. But what is the precise embarrassment that foreigners feel by listening to their host-country’s national anthem?
For starters, have the foreigners said so, or is Murthy presuming it and koorsing the goobe on their shoulders to nusk out of a national controversy?
And for another, at the Olympics and at the football World Cup, two events most foreigners are aware of, the national anthem of the winning team/player and the national anthem of the two competing teams are played per force, not just for the benefit of the players/teams, but also of those present in the stadium, who in most cases are foreigners, and a global television audience, which is always foreign.
If that is OK, why is it difficult for Infosys’ iPod wearing foreigners to listen to a 52-second, five-stanza number? Or for their faculty to make them listen to it?
But, above all, coming to a foreign country, to a foreign city, to a foreign company is all about learning, appreciating, assimilating, understanding, and respecting that country’s, that city’s, that company’s culture.
If Infosys’ foreigners—all 126 of or whatever multiples of them—are not doing that, then they have missed a vital ingredient of their education and even more vital ingredient of their excursion.
Narayana Murthy is being spoken of the “fantastic” next President. Hopefully, the first Kannadiga to be Rashtrapati will not have similar views of the rashtra geethe being sung in the presence of foreigners.
For the benefit of the embarrassed foreigners, here is a google video of it, which we reproduce most unembarrassedly.
Praja Vani alleges that 90 per cent of the 5,000 employees who had assembled for the Kalam function yesterday at the Infosys campus didn’t know the lyrics of the national anthem by heart.
For the benefit of ignorant Infoscions, here are the full lyrics.
Also read: Why NRN will make a poor President