All the Jai Hind Dhabas that line the Grand Trunk Road, from Kolkata to Karnal and beyond, have reason to rejoice, for they are about to get a lot of government-generated publicity. All the school students of Madhya Pradesh will remember them every morning, even if they have never been anywhere within miles of these important institutions. Because the students will have to put traditional salutations behind them, even if they have served humanity well for centuries. Instead, by government diktat, they will have to use the nationalistic “Jai Hind”. A pilot project is planned for Satna’s government schools, whose students would have to answer the roll call with “Jai Hind”, rather than the tame “present”. The void of absence will also, presumably, echo: “Jai Hind.” No alternative has been provided by the nanny state.
Later, the scheme will be propagated to the state’s 1.22 lakh schools, and all private schools will be served with advisories. Answering a roll call with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s slogan — and, later, Indira Gandhi’s shrill sign-off on the campaign trail — is not a fraught enterprise, but the use of the nationalist call as a standard reply could be. Teacher, surprising truant student: “Why aren’t you in class?” Surprised truant student: “Jai Hind!” The slogan could be a a rich source of pedagogic infuriation.
Madhya Pradesh’s schools already raise the Tricolour and sing the national anthem every day, which should suffice to instil patriotism. Fiddling with everyday speech betrays excessive zeal, suitable only for revolutionary times, when it becomes necessary to rally the populace by every means available. To the best of our knowledge, neither Madhya Pradesh nor India is in the throes of a revolution. Nevertheless, in the absence of state coercion, we are all happy to say it like it is: Jai Hind!