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Friday, October 30, 2009

Why should our President receive the queen’s baton?

The Times of India
Saturday October 28, 2009

Tarun Vijay

President Pratibha Patil is in London to receive a baton from Queen Elizabeth II on October 29. She has already received a tasteless joke from the duke of Windsor about Patels . And then the President is all ready to get the dubious distinction of the first-ever head of state of a Commonwealth country to receive the baton from the Queen Elizabeth. It’s a ‘baton’ that’s customarily given to the host country of the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth has 53 member states including Nauru, .. etc and none of them ever thought it prudent to be so obsessed with the colonial hangover that their head of the state would go and be a durbari in the former coloniser’s palace.

And our sportsmen like Kapil Dev gave a statement expressing a feel of pride for having found their names in the invite list to be in the queue and get introduced to a lady who hardly knows about their land except that her predecessors once ruled them with a barbarity that is reminiscent of the dark ages (her knowledge about us won’t be better than that of the duke of fatigue and follies who slipped over the Patels) and she never expressed any regret or remorse over what the British did to us.

Any surprises on the Indian spinelessness?

We are a nation that produced a large number of rai bahadurs and sirs and rao sahebs while ‘crazy deewane’ were becoming Bhagat Singhs and Rajgurus and Sukhdevs. There were a large section of our Indians who thought it prudent to keep a silence on Jalianwala Bagh, honour the butcher Dyer even after the gruesome incident. It’s another matter that we had those Casablancas too who preferred gallows to knighthood.

Pratibha Patil and Kapil Devs have joined the ranks of those who have no sense of history, leave aside a sense of pride in the sacrifices of revolutionaries who fought the British. We are the world’s greatest living democracy, much larger and with a better civilisational background and track record of humanity than the British. Why should a head of a democracy present herself before a queen, a symbol of a decaying, old tradition, which has lost all relevance to the contemporary values of civil society? Shouldn’t they be raising questions that why the lady occupying Buckingham Palace must remain the head of the Commonwealth? The most logical and contextually correct thing would be to have a head of a democratic sovereign as its chief and not a titular icon of a royalty that stinks with the blood of our revolutionaries and whose wealth is built on the loot of India?

Pratibha Patil hasn’t found time to visit Hussainiwala , the memorial to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. Or the Jalianwala Bagh. London seems to be more inviting to her. What a shame that India should send a large contingent of sportsmen along with her.

The first question that has to raised before the lethargic neo-rai sahebs is the logic of still clinging to the Commonwealth comity? What great achievement we envisage by spending more than $1.6 billion on organizing the Commonwealth Games, which were originally conceptualized to keep the British colonial legacy alive and still require the queen to distribute largesse and announce the beginning of the games as its head. Since its inception in the new garb in1952, there has not been anyone else except the queen to head the games and it’s incumbent upon the members, all former subjects of the empire, all who had been slaves of the queen, to go to London and receive the ‘baton’ from Her Majesty so that the games are launched formally.

Here are some gems of information taken from the official website of the games.

The Queen's Baton Relay

The Relay traditionally begins at Buckingham Palace in London as a part of the city's Commonwealth Day festivities. Her Majesty the Queen entrusts the baton to the first relay runner. At the Opening Ceremony of the Games, the final relay runner hands the baton back to her Majesty the Queen .

History

The Relay was introduced at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. Through the 1994 Games, the Relay only went through England and the host nation.

The history of The Games

In 1911, the 'Festival of Empire’ was held in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V. As part of the festival, an Inter-Empire Championships was held in which teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming and athletics.

From 1930 to 1950 the Games were known as the British Empire Games, then the British Empire and Commonwealth Games until 1962. From 1966 to 1974 they took on the title of British Commonwealth Games and from 1978 onwards they have been known as simply the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Youth Games are also known as Friendly Games in the English speaking provinces of the Commonwealth.

In the baton relay, after the president receives the baton from the Queen, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chairman Suresh Kalamdi, and Olympic gold medallist and ace shooter Abhinav Bindra will then start the Queen’s Baton Relay,

The Queen's Baton relay is one of the oldest traditions of Commonwealth Games since it was first done in the 1958 Games in Wales



Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 1994

The Baton was fashioned from sterling silver and was engraved with traditional symbols of the creative artists' families and cultures, including a wolf, a raven and an eagle with a frog in its mouth.

Kuala Lumpur, 1998

Malaysia placed their own flavour on the Games, with the Queen’s Baton being carried into the stadium on an elephant. The baton was presented to Prince Edward by Malaysia’s first ever Commonwealth medal winner Koh Eng Tong, a gold medallist in weightlifting in 1950.

Manchester, 2002

The baton has special significance as it marks the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen and was designed to symbolise the uniqueness of the individual and the common rhythm of humanity.

Opening ceremony traditions

• From 1930 through 1950, the parade of nations was led by a single flag bearer carrying the Union Flag, symbolising Britain's leading role in the British Empire.

• Since 1958, there has been a relay of athletes carrying a baton from Buckingham Palace to the Opening Ceremony. This baton has within it the Queen's Message of Greeting to the athletes.

• All other nations march in English alphabetical order.

• The military is more active in the Opening Ceremony than in the Olympic Games. This is to honour the British Military traditions of the Old Empire.

So we have a queen and her representatives to be honoured who hardly get a serious glance in their own country except when a scandal brings them to the front page of a tabloid, we have to follow the English, and run with a baton which has symbols we do not know why-“a wolf, a raven and an eagle with a frog in its mouth.” And then we have to honour the “British Military traditions of the Old Empire.” Because they killed our patriots? Someone must file an application under RTI to know how many millions have been allocated just to finalise the theme and the tamasha to start a function that would be a joke to the sacred memories of our freedom fighters.

Why can’t we spend half the money we are spending on the Commonwealth Games for training and building better and permanent facilities to identify indigenous sports talent and prepare them for the next Olympics? Why can’t we have a commonwealth of the proud, patriotic sovereign countries which would make sure that they do everything in line with the honour and pride of their language, customs, traditions and salute their patriots taking the baton from a freedom fighter who had fought the savagery of the British empire rather than go to London and bow before the British queen?

3 comments:

tat tvam asi said...

Our job is to do something about it. Complaining will take us no where.

Azad said...

I totally agree with your thoughts...

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