When a Muslim 4th Grade student of mine refused to sing Jana Gana Mana

National anthem is the idea of a unified nation that we all are a part of, irrespective of our religion.

It started off as a normal day in school for me. Academic and general discussions with the colleagues before the bell rings for assembly, smiling and greeting the students back, which wouldn’t stop until the prayer starts. Making the students stand in queues and feeling a sense of solace in this togetherness, watching them as one entity, a little unified world amidst the chaos outside. Till one girl, someone I am particularly fond of, did something unusual. I observed that she was not participating in the morning assembly.

While the other students were singing “Itni Shakti Humein Dena Daata”, she neither joined her hands and sang the prayer, nor stood in attention position for the national anthem later. At first I considered it as a case of general indiscipline until after the assembly, I, along with two other teachers called her to know what made her do so.

Upon being questioned, the Class 4 girl replied: “I will not join my hands, nor will I do anything else. It is against Islam. My father has asked me not to do it.” It came as a shock at first to the three of us as such an incident had never happened before.

Elsewhere and on Twitter there was a raging debate on a Muslim couple in Mumbai being heckled for not standing up during the national anthem and here, I was facing a crisis in my classroom. The teachers tried to explain to her that the school prayer is not for any particular religion or god but it pays respect to every religion. They are a part of the school curriculum so that in a secular state like India, the students grow up to become citizens who would respect all religions equally while maintaining their own faith. “It is okay if you do not want to join hands for the prayer but you should stand still when the national anthem is being sung. It is a mark of respect for the nation.”

The next day the girl was observed keeping her hands together loosely in the front during the entire morning assembly, from prayer to the national anthem. She did not close her eyes even for the five minutes of silent meditation done post the anthem, aimed at increasing the concentration of the students.

There is an ongoing debate about the fundamental question: Why is it important to honour the anthem? Not standing for the anthem is not punishable by law. But think this way, today one kid has refused to participate in the morning assembly, tomorrow there will be ten, and day after a 100. As a teacher, my concern is the school decorum which might be jeopardised.

Morning assemblies aim at bringing the students of all religions and castes together. National anthem, in my opinion, is the abstract, the idea of a unified nation that we all are a part of, irrespective of our religion, region or caste. Those 52 seconds when I stand still and sing the national anthem are the most peaceful moments of my day.


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  • This is a fabricated story. I cannot believe it . I have known so many people of both Hindi and Muslim religion whose children are studying in kendriya Vidyalaya, or missionary schools and none of them are of such narrow minded to tell the child not to respect the National anthem . Please do not insert such matters to destroy the brotherly relation that is existing between the people of different religion in this country. It is only that these such news inflames the feelings against people of other religion. Let we Indians live in peace and harmony. Even if there is any such instance where a muslim may have asked his minor and or school going child not to sing the national Anthem, , it is my firm belief that the same should not be publicized to create communal disharmony amongst two different communities. I am sure that the people of present generation do not believe in killing and looting and are aware of the fact what lies beneath such defamotory and inflamatory speeches and articles. JAI HIND .

    • This is just simply sad and depressing. I fully agree with Kaiser Chaglani. Please try to resolve the matter and educate the parents if possible. In many schools, children of all different religions and castes study together and honour the national anthem together. This seems to be a one off case and please treat it like that, especially if you are fond of this girl.

  • All hope may not be lost. Long ago our neighbour’s driver (who stayed in their outhouse) had banned his 2 very small kids from playing Holi and bursting crackers on Diwali. Recent converts, they had moved to NCR from Orrisa and apparently the Church pastor had said that coloured faces on Holi symbolizes the devil and that Diwali is a Hindu festival. The kids were told that it’s ok to burst crackers a couple of days before or after Diwali but not on the 2 days *lol*. They were gifted a tricycle by the Church.

    On Christmas, they saw a tree put up at their school and all their school and colony friends wishing them a Merry Christmas. That episode, financial independence and time might have changed them. A year later, they had blended in the mixed NCR society and till they moved out 6-7 years later, they were an integral part of the colony brat-brigade and growing to be fine young citizens.

    As a teacher, do not give up on her. I hope that this girl too will change with time and her parents exercise better judgement.

  • Not respecting the National Anthem is, in fact, punishable under the law as it stands today. See the Flag Code (Y2004) and the orders issued under this in January 2015.

  • It is dismaying to note from the factual article whereby it is evident that all the adults – especially parents who follow ‘fundamentalist’ attitude in life serve as counter productive role models for their children and others. Such poisonous, extreme perspective and their implementation in daily life serve to instill poison of negative attitude towards all others who differ from their ways of life – leading to hatred and violence through speech, action and mind.
    India is the most secular country, accommodative of all faiths but the government needs public’s proactive support to bring forth reform in the constitutional amendments that will help towards contemporary realities and also to better serve the future of our beloved country as well as the world.
    All Hindus need to first empower themselves with accurate understanding of what Sanatana Dharma is and then practice, promote the same because the fundamentals of Sanatana Dharma apply universally to all. Hinduism philosophy is universal and based on symbolism that need to be clearly taught and understood by all – that grassroots level reform in Indian psyche is the only permanent solution to eliminate this sectarian poison of hatred in the name of religion!

    Thank you.

  • in Kannada there is a saying. “ಬೆಳೆಯುವ ಸಿರಿ ಮೊಳಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ”, which means, we can see what will be grown when it is a sprout.
    Setting the religious mindset during the childhood is not good for the pupil and the nation.

  • Children do what they are taught in their early days. Father is wrong but the Child is NOT. We must teach both the child and the father that the Nation is above all religions. Any religion that encourages hatred or dogmas and that does not change with time will become a thing of the past.
    The more we show our religion and beliefs externally, the less open we will become internally. It applies to ALL without exception. Religion and belief are essential for us to think and do good. Nation is for us to live in. Therefore we should do everything right to serve the Nation at any time. Somebody please teach those who don’t want to sing National Anthem the right things about life.