It may seem to be a relatively innocuous part of our everyday modern lives, but the 'humble' ringtone on mobile phones seems to be attracting rather more attention in Bangladesh. Patriotic fervour is often encouraged in many countries (within limits), but those Bangladeshis who would otherwise choose to listen to their national anthem for incoming calls or texts had best think again. The country's highest court has ruled that such usage should be banned in future.

Non-use for commercial purposes

The thinking behind the new ruling extends not just to mobile phone usage by its people, but also to all other potential commercial purposes.

Judges in Dhaka at the country's Supreme Court chose to uphold a ruling made in the High Court back in 2010. Their justification for the decision was that the national anthem should not "be used as a business tool", presumably to safeguard its sanctity, integrity and national significance. Chief Justice S K Sinha headed the three-judge bench which passed the order, following the dismissal of two separate appeals that had been filed by the mobile operators Banglalink and Grameenphone. The mobile operators are believed to have already stopped using the national anthem music as a ringtone after the High Court verdict was passed.

National anthem adoption

Bangladesh's national anthem is "Amar Shonar Bangla" and was adopted by the country in 1972.

The original Bengali song it is based on was written in 1905 by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. He was the first non-European to achieve that feat. Only the first ten lines of the original song have been utilised for the purposes of the anthem. The title means "My Golden Bengal" and the lyrics represent an uplifting and beautiful sentiment in the hearts of many Bangladeshis.

Bangladesh's growing telecom market

The ruling potentially has a large impact in terms of reducing the number of occasions that the national anthem could be heard in public. It is believed that Bangladesh has some 124 million mobile phone users and that figure seems set to rise, given that the region is one of the quickest growing telecom markets in the world.