The Englisht News channels in the country try hard to make you believe that there is a big issue over singing of Vande Mataram. If ever there was a non issue, this is it. How many people in the country know the song in full? I can speak for Tamilians, stating that almost no Tamilian knows the song in its entirety. At the most, they would know the first two lines, I don't even know that. So the controversy is essentially about a song which no one knows more than a stanza.
In the all the schools I studied (except the one in Madras), we were taught only the தமிழ்த் தாய் வாழ்த்து - the song singing the praise of Tamil, written by Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai. To remind my Tamil readers of that beautiful song, here is the text.
நீராடும் கடல் உடுத்த நில மடந்தைக் கெழிலொழுகும்
சீராரும் வதனமென திகழ் பரத கண்டமிதில்
தெக்கணமும் அதிற் சிறந்த திராவிட நல் திருநாடும்
தக்க சிறு பிறை நுதலும் தரித்த நறும் திலகமுமே!
அத் திலக வாசனை போல் அனைத்துலகும் இன்பமுற,
எத் திசையும் புகழ் மணக்க இருந்த பெரும் தமிழணங்கே!
நின் சீரிளமைத் திறம் வியந்து செயல் மறந்து வாழ்த்துதுமே!
So when the news channels have hour long programs about this non issue, we see it as a humorous thing.
Not that we Tamils lack in sense of humour. Take Periyar E.Ve.Raa. He was a man who stood for rationalism (a much maligned word in TN, akin to Secularism), broke idols of Pillayar (as Vinayaka is called in TN) on the streets, and took processions desecrating Rama's pictures. You can criticise his actions and view points, but you can't erase his impact on TN.
As happens with all such revolutionaries, he too became what he opposed - a God with idols all over the state. Yesterday there was a furore in the TN assembly, due to the fact that Periyar's statue was desecrated in Dindigul, a town near Madurai. The rationalist government promised that strict action would be taken against the miscreants. So what was the desecration? Sacred ash was applied on the statues forhead, sandalwood garlands were placed and incence sticks were lit.
Is it only me who finds this incredibly funny? A statue breaker has his statues installed. And then his followers get angry when it is "desecrated". What would happen if the miscreant owns up and says "I idolise Periyaar. So I did these things out of respect to him"?
It is a funny world.