What Javed Akhtar said while retiring as an MP, is the kind of speech expected of an educated, learned and honest Indian. Akhtar’s animated and heartfelt words in the Rajya Sabha moved other parliamentarians, as he whipped AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, and expressed his disappointment over the latter’s blunt refusal to hail and praise the motherland. Owaisi, while rebuffing RSS’ idea that every Indian must chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” to infuse a spirit of patriotism, had said he was not bound by the Constitution to chant the same and therefore wouldn’t, even if a dagger is put to his throat.
On March 15, when the Upper House bid adieu to 17 of its members, a visibly-flustered Javed Akhtar presented a kaleidoscope of agitated emotions over the rising foolhardiness in the country. He stressed on the need to focus and find solutions to pressing issues, instead of taking up futile causes that are merely dividing the nation.
Akhtar’s discourse was a scornful criticism of Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s, as he asked the “mohalla leader from Hyderabad” if he was truly ashamed of saying “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
“I am of the opinion that all political parties want to see a developed India; all we must do is rise a little. When there are important issues like unemployment, medicine, school, college and infrastructure that need to be addressed, what are we investing our energy on? Every day we hear things that we rather not hear. A few days ago, a gentleman who believes he is a national leader, but is just a mohalla leader, said he would not chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” because it is not stipulated by the Constitution. But the same Constitution does not stipulate him to wear a sherwani. I am not interested in knowing whether chanting slogans hailing the motherland is my responsibility or not, because I believe it is my birth right. And I am proud to say Bharat Mata ki Jai! I condemn such people and such thoughts in the severest way possible,” Akhtar lashed out.
He also condemned slogans like Musalman Ke Do Sthaan: Kabristan Ya Pakistan. The lyricist said the country must decide whether it wants to move forward or regress in time. He asked if India should become a country wherein people are hanged in the name of religion.
Javed Akhtar is a wizard of wards and in this retiring speech, he has nailed it. The country needs more such luminaries who are not only a breath of fresh air in this toxic nationalism debate, but also sane minds who are proficient in leading by example and making a difference.
Take a bow, Mr Akhtar.