Monday, August 17, 2009
Mile Sur Mera Tumhara-To Sur Bane Hamara
I doubt whether younger student readers would remember the cultural unity compilation “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” often broadcast by Doordarshan till the early nineties. But I sure do. Vividly.
Those were simple days of childhood, when we used to laugh and love openly and live seemingly uncomplicated lives imbued with an intense love for our nation and pride in its diversity. Coming from Mumbai, I was already introduced to people from many different cultures, religions, languages and regions all over India. I have eaten different cuisines unique to the various Indian states and revelled in the traditions and festivities enjoyed by people belonging to different creeds which constitute our country. And it has been a most joyous experience – learning to share and tolerate, respect and love equally. Something I see declining fast in the India of today.
The “Mile sur...” video used to be something to run back to in times of crisis. Like the Mumbai riots of '92 after the demolition of Babri Masjid and the consequent Hindu-Muslim disharmony which finally erupted into widespread violence, the likes of which has remained scarred in the minds and hearts of Mumbaiites even now.
Or the riots that began after the Godhra train burning in 2002, which shocked and pained not only Gujaratis but Indians nationwide. Or even the Stein family burning in Orissa and the Sikh riots in north India. The list can go on and one. But during these tumultuous times, when I have felt helpless with sheer agony to see my country burning, I have often resorted to this video clip featuring national integration and unity, which has somehow always managed to restore my faith in the inherent tolerant ways of our great nation and its diverse yet united people.
As soon as the video begins with Pt Bhimsen Joshi singing in his typical classical tones, I feel a lump rising in my throat. It strikes me yet again that a country which could produce, nurture and house a singer of such greatness and music so thoroughly rooted in the basic scientific principles of sound and artistic fundamentals of beauty intertwined with each other, can not be anything but great.
As the video progresses featuring the common as well as famous Indian from various states like Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Gujarat and Maharashtra, the lump in my throat slowly starts transmuting into tears.
And then as the music melts into the lag portion of our national anthem, the tears flow unhindered. What beauty! What richness! What vastness! What greatness we are blessed with!
A grand history that goes back thousands of years, further than most modern civilizations. In our history and our unity in diversity, we are rooted. May we never lose sight of those roots.
Progress of our India does not mean losing our innate Indian-ness. Actually it is very hard to lose that. By getting a green card and changing one's passport details one may become an American citizen, but one does not stop being an Indian, contrary to popular opinion. One's roots go far beyond the paper passport.
I know, I have been an NRI for a long time, and every day I have pined for my country. I have swollen with pride with every Indian achievement and felt steeped with sorrow at every unhappy incident happening there. I live abroad. But I am Indian.
It is time we stopped criticizing the state of our nation. We must instead identify them and aim to rectify them. Negative criticism never gets anyone anywhere. Constructive criticism does. Why do we complain about our nation's issues when we ourselves do nothing to solve them?
Let today-our independence Day-be the first day of the rest of our lives. Let us work constructively at solving our problems, instead of being hypocritical about them. Let us change the oft heard statement “Is desh mein kuch nahin hoga” to “Yeh desh duniya ka Taj hai.”
Let us realize that we all may be different, but there is more that we share in common. We share a country. We share a history. We share mutual love and respect. We share the blessings of the great saints and sages who do not adhere to any religion but only seek oneness with God. We share the blessings of great personages of yore like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Swami Vivekanand and Rabindranath Tagore, and present day leaders like Abdul Kalam and Anna Hazare among others. Moreover we are imbued with God's strong presence in the undying faith of so many Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Chrisitans, Parsis, Buddhists and Bahai's praying as one nation. When God is with us, who can be against us?
We make the great Bharat Ganarajya. We are Indians.
Mile sur mera tumhara...to sur bane hamara. Jai Bharat. Jai Hind.