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Monday, February 1, 2021

Australia amends its National anthem - small but significant in nature !!

Proud Wiradjuri woman Olivia Fox sung in the Indigenous Eora language before the Tri Nations rugby union game between the Wallabies and Argentina.  It received universal praise and was credited as a “great step forward” as the Wallabies produced a historic first for Australian sport.  .. .. do you know why it made headlines ?

Shadhu-Bhasha is a literary variation of Bengali language. It is used only in writing ~ this highly sanskritised form of Bengali is notable for its variations in verb forms and the vocabulary which is mainly composed of Sanskrit words.   Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar is credited with standardizing the alphabets. Our proud National anthem ‘Jana-gana-mana’  though originally in Bengali,  the text is believed to have been written in Shadhu basha by the great Rabindranath Tagore. It was first sung on 27 December 1911 at the Kolkata Session of the Indian National Congress and later was adopted in its Hindi version by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India on 24 January 1950.  Tagore wrote down the English translation of the song and along with Margaret Cousins (an expert in European music and wife of Irish poet James Cousins), set down the notation at Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh.

Proud Wiradjuri woman Olivia Fox from the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts sung Advance Australia Fair in the Eora language before continuing to sing the rest of the anthem in English. It was the first time the joint-language anthem was performed at an international sporting event in Australia.

The Wiradjuri people  are a group of Aboriginal Australian people who were united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunterfishergatherers in family groups or clans scattered throughout central New South Wales. .. all these in news for - Australia has changed a word in its national anthem after critics argued the line 'we are young and free' was disrespectful to Aboriginal history.  The critics have long claimed that describing Australia as a 'young nation' overlooks the fact that Aboriginal people have lived on the continent for centuries.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on New Year's Eve that the second line of the anthem, Advance Australia Fair, had been changed from 'for we are young and free' to 'for we are one and free'.  'While Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, our country's story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect,' Mr Morrison said. The Governor-General Hon David Hurley also agreed to a Government recommendation to change the wording of the anthem. Scott Morrison announced the second line of the Australian national anthem will be changed from January 1, 2021.   

'During the past year we have showed once again the indomitable spirit of Australians and the united effort that has always enabled us to prevail as a nation,' he said. He added – ‘It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem.'  'In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our National Anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation. Mr Morrison said changing 'young and free' to 'one and free' takes nothing away, but he believes it adds much value. 'It recognises the distance we have travelled as a nation. It recognises our national story is drawn from more than 300 national ancestries and language groups and we are the most successful multicultural nation on earth,' he said.


Indian Cricket team singing National anthem – Jana Gana Mana 

The move was not without criticism too.  Some  expressed their opinion of the word change on Twitter with some branding the move 'stupid and annoying'. Political Editor of Samantha Maiden said: 'Changing the national anthem is stupid and annoying. 'It's like getting a historical artefact or a painting and going 'ooh why don't we just drop a dollop of pink paint on it?' Actually, no, don't, you vandals.' Another said: 'Since when does one man decide who changes the wording to our national anthem? Regardless if it's one word or the whole song, it's not his decision to my opinion.' A third added: 'Australia just changed one line of the national anthem?! Is this even allowed?'  However one said: 'Scott Morrison moving Australia forward one word in a lyric at a time.'   

There have been calls to change the national anthem for years, with most criticism directed at the second line for its failure to recognise Aboriginal history prior to colonisation.  The controversial lyrics have sparked public protests, with national sporting events typically at the forefront of debate around changing the national anthem.  Last year, half of the Indigenous team refused to sing the Australian national anthem played in the lead up to the NRL game against the Indigenous All Stars and Maori All Stars. Nine Origin stars refused to sing the anthem before game one of 2019 series at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, including Blues stars Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell and Payne Haas. Due to the protests, the NRL made the controversial decision in October this year to scrap the playing of the anthem as part of the blockbuster's entertainment program for the 2020 season.  

Australians all let us rejoice, For we are one and free;

We've golden soil and wealth for toil;

Our home is girt by sea;

Our land abounds in nature's gifts Of beauty rich and rare;

In history's page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair. .. goes the anthem.


In December, Wallabies players sung the Australian national anthem in both Eora, a First Nations language, and English ahead of the Tri Nations Test against Argentina at the Western Sydney Stadium.  While the move was widely praised, indigenous sports stars Latrell Mitchell and  Anthony Mundine hit out at the decision, arguing that changing the language didn't change the meaning of the song.   Mr Wyatt, the first Indigenous Australian elected to the federal Parliament's lower house, said in a statement that he had been asked about the change and had given it his support. He said the one-word change was 'small in nature but significant in purpose'. 'It is an acknowledgement that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures date back 65,000 years,' he said. 

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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