Did you know that singing the national anthem in 52 seconds is the only way we should do it?
It was a cold winter morning and students of the American Public School was jostling to keep their bodies warm. The assembly started with a prayer, followed by thought of the day and morning news. It is routine for these kids to sing the national anthem on a daily basis, but they were in for a surprise when a tall man told them that the anthem they sung was 1:02 minutes long, which was actually wrong and they would sing it again in exactly 52 seconds. The man, Aubrey Aloysius founder of Lorraine Music Academy in Gurgaon has undertaken a huge responsibility - to make every Indian sing the national anthem correctly.
Shrabani Mukherjee (SM)
: Why is it so important to make today's youth learn the correct way to sing the national anthem?
Aubrey Aloysius (AA): I am a proud Indian citizen. I remember being a proud Indian since my childhood and as you have heard me say, 'all Indians are my brother and sister,' so I am a part of a large family. Today it is a 1.27 billion strong family. I have had opportunities to go and settle abroad. I have had invitations with job offers to settle overseas, but I never had any inclination to take those up. I am happy as I believe that India is going to be a leading nation in the next ten... twenty... thirty years.
Having said that, while growing up I realised that not many people are thinking the same way as I was thinking. The fervour, enthusiasm and desire to serve the country were generally lacking. Especially, I am afraid that the youth of today, the children of today - the next generation - may become very individualistic and not focused on collectively contributing to India and the nation building process. I hear voices of cynicism when speaking of India’s future.
What disturbed me last year was the Nirbhaya incident, which starkly brought to the attention of our nation and highlighted the derogatory treatment of women in India. Corruption has been another major cause for concern. I have not paid a bribe in my life.
There are winds of change blowing in the country, for which I have been praying for years. I am glad to see the conscience of the nation being sensitised to these ethical and moral issues. I hear people talking about their ‘rights’ but I am not hearing people talk much about their ‘duties’. Therefore, I am going back to the Constitution of India. In the Constitution, the fundamental duties of every citizen of India are clearly written under Article 51 A. I feel very strongly that we are neglecting the teaching or learning of this, so we need to bring about a change and right this wrong. We need to do things correctly. Firstly, we need to respect the national emblems – the National Flag and the National Anthem. If we study the constitution, we will notice that our National Anthem is to be sung in a precise manner, in about 52 seconds, to a particular martial tune, rhythm, melody.
Let us take the first step in joining our hearts and minds together in singing the National Anthem with pride, passion and precision. By doing so we express India’s cultural ethos of “Unity in Diversity.”
Music transcends cultural boundaries and acts as the ultimate metaphor for social harmony. Coming together in singing the National Anthem strengthens individuals to believe in the potential they have to influence their nation. Coming together and creating art and music at any time strengthens individuals to believe in the potential they have to influence the world. Through this National Patriotic Project we will empower our children and the youth to build on the nation’s cultural ethos of “Unity in Diversity”. We will rekindle and build a National fervour of Patriotism and motivate the youth to build their lives positively to contribute to India.SM:
What is the campaign “Come India Sing” all about?AA:
The “Come India Sing” initiative is based on the cultivation of the phenomenal potential of children and youth in India today. We believe firmly that tomorrow belongs to the young people of today. As India gains influence on the global stage, we aim to give great young minds and talent a voice in the shaping of our nation. India is young! India’s biggest asset is its young population. The spirit and motivation of the youth of our nation will determine the direction the economy takes and help turn India’s fortunes. They will prove pivotal in making India a world leader in the coming years.
Words have power. Music helps the creative process and sparks the imagination and ideas. When this musical imagination and experience of singing our National Anthem is ignited in a group circumstance, we have the most extraordinary power to change young lives for positive living. This is the purpose of the National Patriotic Project “Come India Sing Jana Gana Mana.”It is a nation building project. It is a call to the 1.27 billion Indian citizens and the Indian Diaspora spread across the globe to stand for one cause – the unity of India, by singing one song – our National Anthem – with precision, pride and passion, the right way - in about 52 seconds.
The project will cut through the urban-rural, socio-economic, geographic, cultural and other divides to unite the nation and its people. We will engage millions of children, youth, students and adults in the project’s annual programmes.SM:
What is LAMP?AA:
The National Patriotic Project “Come India Sing” and its series of programs is a joint initiative of LAMP Trust and Lorraine Music Academy. LAMP Trust has a mandate to promote music and the arts – performing arts, literary arts, and visual arts – across the country. LAMP desires to set up in Gurgoan and National Capital Region, a World Cultural Centre that will be a national hub for music, art and culture. We need support in our endeavours and welcome like-minded people to join us in our efforts and help raise the resources that are needed to fulfil our mandate.SM:
You said that when you heard the Jana Gana Mana for the first time at the age of 7 you had goose bumps. Were you able to fathom the words at such a tender age?AA:
It is difficult to explain in words but it did happen - I did get goose bumps when I heard the Jana Gana Mana at the age of seven. I was very impressionable by this age. I was quite a perceptive child and can recount memories ad incidents when I was as young as 3 years old. I started to read the newspaper from the age of 7 and listening to the afternoon news in the All India Radio.
So, a lot of things happened at that age and even in that age, the national anthem spoke to me. I guess the patriotic spirit I see in myself today I owe a lot to the early days of singing the National Anthem as a prayer to God for my country. My mother translated the Sanskrit words to English and that influenced me very much. For me, the singing of our National Anthem was a prayer to God for the future of my country and my brothers and sisters.SM:
Did you always teach?AA:
I have never been a ‘teacher,’ except for giving tuitions for pocket money. But I must add that I started working from the age of 16 years. There is nothing wrong in starting earning early - on the contrary, I must add that I quite encourage it. We need to encourage the spirit of dignity of labour, diligence and hard work in our youth. I have been a banker, a marketing researcher, a salesman, a marketing executive, also contributed 2 years of my life to charity when I was with CRY (Child Relief & You), after which, now, I am an entrepreneur, educationist, and a visionary. I dream of and hope to one day see emerge a Great India!SM:
When did you start Lorraine Music Academy?AA:
Lorraine Music Academy was launched in 2009. It has been a good journey thus far and we look forward to the future.SM:
What kind of music did you teach them?AA:
While researching, we realised that there was a gap in the music and arts education. We looked at it from a world perspective and found out that people needed to be taught world music. As far as Indian music goes, it is being rather well taken care of. However there is a need to expose our children to world music in order to prepare them to take their place in the India and the world of the future where India will play a leading role. We need to prepare our next generation to bridge the global cultural gap and make their mark. So that is where Lorraine Music thought of making its own mark. We must also encourage the singing and playing of our own folk music and popular music to promote Indian culture globally.SS:
What kinds of instruments do you teach?AA:
We teach piano, electronic keyboard, guitar, violin, drums, table, singing and also Bharat Natyam dance.SS:
In today’s world, where schools are providing holistic education, do you think music academies are viable and important?AA:
It is very viable, relevant and important because Indian education does not integrate music in its curriculum. It is not even a co-curriculum activity; at best it is still ‘extra-curricular.’ So music academies fill that gap and impart deeper education to the youth.SM:
When we talk about the growing crime rate in the country and the ways in which music can help in that direction. Since 60 percent of our population lives below poverty line, don’t you think it is important to teach them music?AA:
Absolutely, it is very important and it will happen over time. Music is everyone’s birthright. If you can speak, you can certainly sing! This is true for every citizen of India, regardless of the socio-economic status.
Education is important. Everyone must claim and implement their right to education. Music and arts are as important to society as reading, writing, and arithmetic, not just as a disposable extra. Exposure to music and arts have a profound impact on individuals. More than 2,000 years ago, Plato said “Let me make the songs of the nation and I care not who makes its laws.” In selecting the first song that could be re-taught to the entire nation, we chose one song that is understood and sung by the whole nation, our National Anthem. Other songs will follow.
Music has the power to heal and mend broken hearts, as well as the power to unite. We all have to come together and work towards it. One man alone cannot do it. So starting from NCR, we would spread the work across the nation. We believe that music can draw people out of the influence of anti-social elements / backgrounds and make them more positive in their outlook towards life and thus contribute positively towards society by channelizing and harnessing their time and skills constructively.
Music can inspire the poorest and the marginalised to dig in deep and bring themselves out of their situation by using all that God has blessed them. They can be inspired to learn new skills and contribute to their own personal growth and economic development. Therefore “Come India Sing...”SM:
In 10 years’ time, where do you see Lorraine Music Academy?AA:
Through music, we have a vision of reaching out with our message to everyone and uniting people. We wish to see this happening in the National Capital Region first, then in every state capital, then in every district, taluka until one day we see its impact at the panchayat level. Hopefully, our message will trickle down to the lowest strata of the society and the deepest parts of rural India. This is a great nation with great potential. The time has come for every Indian to contribute and be a part of this greatness.SM:
What do you think of the music culture in Gurgaon?AA:
I once heard a person say that there is just one ‘culture’ in Gurgaon - Agriculture. But that is not true because I have lived here for the last nine years and I have seen music grow in Gurgaon and the NCR region. Academies are rising and people want to make their children learn music. So the music culture in Gurgaon is quite strong. Gurgaon is now emerging to be a very cosmopolitan city with people from all over India and various parts of the globe living here. It is good to see this change. We would like to contribute in making Gurgaon a national hub for music, art and culture.