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Monday, 12 January 2009

Love American Style: Author Shashi Tharoor in Trouble over National Anthem in Kerala

January 12, 2009

by Suzan Abrams

India: The distinguished author, newspaper columnist and former United Nations under secretary-general Shashi Tharoor, has come under fire for allegedly showing disrespect towards India's national anthem by forcing an unwelcome interruption for 10 seconds, as it was being sung at a prestigious event to herald the end of a lecture held by Federal Bank, in Kochi, Kerala, South India, last month.

According to a furious 56-year old Joy Kaitharam, general secretary of the State Human Rights Protection Centre, Tharoor insulted the national anthem in the presence of senior civil service officials of whom there were at least nine; at a city hotel function when he urged about 2,000 odd audience members to proclaim the anthem in a US style. This by placing their hands on their chests and looking upwards as Americans do when they sing the Star Spangled Banner.

He was alleged to have told the audience not to stand to attention like the traditional Indian style as it proved an imitation of British protocol.

On the contrary, B.S. Jacob, an aide of the former diplomat has pronounced Tharoor's innocence by saying that the latter only meant to suggest to the audience that they should sing aloud their anthem from the bottom of their hearts and that by placing a hand each on their chests, they would feel their hearts.

Kaitharam who has fought several high-profile legal cases on rights issues in the past refuses to be convinced and banks stubbornly on Tharoor having insulted his country, people and pride simultaneously.

With a view to the controversy, Kaitharam has suggested maximum punishment for Tharoor and plans to lodge a complaint either with the courts or the Panangad police station in the next day or two.

He bemoaned the fact that the police had failed to take action even though a newspaper reported the incident from as way back as December 17.

Incidentally, Shashi Tharoor's hometown is Kerala!

Further Reading:
Shashi Tharoor & His Books

Credit: Photo of Shashi Tharoor courtesy of IndiaDaily.org/Images.

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