The War of the Anthems

There was a recent twitter thread that I followed on the best anthem in the world (created by Brian Skinner, a physicist at MIT I follow). According to the unofficial poll the Indian National Anthem, or as innumerable bored school kids know it as – Jan Gan Man – a bhadrolok bong monstrosity that many of us have learnt to live with, won the competition. Probably more of a sign of the number of Indians on twitter than anything else (though he tried to normalise for it like a good physicist!).

As I replied to Skinner, own test of a good anthem is its soporific value. Basically something like the number of adults of a random lot size of say, 100, it can put to sleep if repeated say, 10, times (like a lullaby) divided by the total character length of that anthem. The denominator is to correct for the true sleep-inducing potential of the melody as opposed to sheer brute length. After all, *any* sufficiently long national anthem on repeat will put people to sleep out of sheer boredom. In that respect, I think Jana Gana Mana is pretty sleep-inducing too but I wonder how much of that has got to do with its length?

What do people here think? Which one is the best, i.e. the most sleep-inducing, anthem in S Asia or indeed the World? My own vote goes to Japan’s Kimi Ga Yo which is basically just one sentence. Good on you, Japs!

Also, please feel fee to comment on the worst, (a)rousing anthems too. Of those, La Marseillaise pretty much makes the bottom of the pile in my opinion. Literally asking for a revolutionary blood bath, that one…


Why I am wrong on Art 370

I am a Kashmiri Pandit and a card-carrying Internally Displaced Person. I believe the recent annulment of Article 370 (and 35A) of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Union of India, is a good thing for all Indian citizens including the Kashmiri people.

However, I am also an epistemological fallibilist. I believe humans err not because we are humans but because to err is a physical law governing all knowledge generating systems. In the spirit of error-correction, therefore, I am going to sum up the argument – as fairly as I can – on why my belief in the “goodness” of Article 370 invalidation* is false.

Continue reading “Why I am wrong on Art 370”