On Music, Patriotism and National Integration

Music has a power to invoke different kinds of feeling. Sometime the feeling invoked while listening to music may be the only sense of familiarity you have with a stranger. Thus, over the years songs have been used to invoke emotions in the masses. There were drums played when the armies came back victorious, there was music when the prince was born, in any occasion of celebration music was played. This is the reason music plays such a great part in movies; the reason Hans Zimmer is Hans Zimmer. The reasons people start sobbing as soon as a sad tune is played in a movie to accompany the loss of the protagonist.

Music also plays an extremely important part in national integration. It tries to provide us with a common thread between extremely diverse citizens. Every country has its own national anthem; India also has its own national song.  These usually provide us with an emotional attachment to our country.

In India mainstream music has also played a major role for national integration. Whenever someone talks about songs about national integration, two songs come to my mind, Mere Watan Ke Logo and Mile Jab Sur Mera Tumahara.

The first time I heard Mere Watan Ke Logo was sometime in school during Independence Day/ Republic Day celebrations sitting in the heat waiting for the day to get over. I don’t know what was in the moment but I clearly remember being moved to tears as the song progressed. The song was first performed by Lata Mangeshkar in 1963 just after the Sino-India war was over. The song was to commemorate the soldiers who had died in the war and was to be sung in a fundraiser. No one had expected how big this song would turn out to be as it was to be sung in a fundraiser and was not a part of any movie. But till today no patriotic celebration is complete till this song has been played.

Mile Jab Sur Humara Tumahra was a song specifically made for national integration. That sounds a bit weird but Doordashan promoted a body called Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad(Council of Public Service Communication) whose purpose was to create content dealing with national integration, environment, drug abuse and consumer awareness.

One such task taken up by them was the song Mile Jab Sur Humara Tumahara which was penned by Piyush Pandey who was an advertising man. The song was sung in various languages and the video had people from various walks of life all of this done to show unity and instil a feeling of patriotism among the citizens. The song was played for the first time in 1988 after the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort. My favourite version of the song is an instrumental rendition done by Baiju Dharmajan.

What is interesting in both these songs is that they were not a part of any film or part of an album they were individual songs made for a specific purpose. At a point of time where the only source of music streaming was All India Radio, the amount of popularity these songs gained is unimaginable.

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