Nationalism is in the genes. Either you have it…

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Catching up on Narayana Murthy’s ‘embarrassment’, after having been away from the Land of Churumuri for a while, I was wondering about the impossibly labyrinthine folds of the average Indian brain inside which lives, in some tiny corner, a subservient element, a type of worm that renders, at times, the whole being absolutely bereft of its own identity, in fact its very chromosomal stamp.

The mental subjugation that the average Indian inflicts upon himself when he sees white skin in his presence; the almost total surrender to the whims and fancies of the foreigner; the almost stupid grin, born of a complete lack of esteem in the self that issues forth from the face; the terrible urgency that is exhibited, to please, to impress, to cajole, to make the foreigner happy.

Traits that have perhaps got embedded in the collective psyche of the nation; a sad infusion of a variety of gene that makes us generally devoid of commanding our place under the sun for whatever we are worth.

A few hundred years of foreign rule, mainly British. A lack of cohesive thought in understanding the value of nationhood and its importance; a divided, divisive, estranged, shredded sense of personal identity which makes us all feel more parochial than Indian.

Perhaps what Narayana Murthy ended up saying the other day was a subtle manifestation of the terribly internal and severely deep waves of thought that cross the innermost crevices of the average Indian’s mind which flogs him to ‘please’ the foreigner.

A globe trotting torch bearer of all that meritocracy stands for, a die-hard votary of the free flow of talent and its worth in nation building, a creator of wealth, an advocate of the free spirit of enterprise, the iconic symbol of technocratic brilliance was seen, at least for a while, after all, as a man who was so keenly fond of making the white skin look a shade brighter!

Not for me what the venerable S. L. Bhyrappa had to say about the incident—that a mountain is being made out of a mole hill and that Murthy is no ordinary man to be ridiculed. Point noted.

Not for me what the slippery U.R. Anantha Murthy had to say about the issue; that it was simply a case of the wrong usage of the English language with the word ‘embarrassment’ coming into play. May be.

To me it is a simple question of being intensely, fundamentally, intrinsically, supremely and most vitally, inherently proud of the nation, from the very DNA of your being, to be in respectful awe of the motherland, to have the sensitivity of soul to be able to be moved and touched by the very thought of singing the national anthem, which, in my book, should be one of the most delicately orchestrated and most mellifluously crafted of them all; to be able to allow the mind to react in a manner that makes the hairs stand on end at the very first strains of the profound lyrics falling upon the ears.

Especially when you are the head honcho of an organization which is widely advertised, in the eyes of the wide world, as the nation’s greatest corporate prestige.

So what if the foreigners in the gathering that day did not know the lyrics of our anthem. They are not even expected to. Where was the question, even for a infinitesimal nano-second, that a thought should have been entertained in the mind that only the instrumental version of the anthem be played and not the great song sung full throatedly? To please the foreigners? Where was the need in the first place? Why?

Did Narayana Murthy forget for a moment, that he, and the rest of them were standing on Indian soil; in fact on the soil of good old Mysore, to which place he has more reasons to be grateful than others?

Well, as I said in the beginning, it’s all in the genes.

Perhaps.