If you grew up in the late 80s or early 90s, chances are that you have heard the familiar tunes of Mile Sur Mera Tumhara on Doordarshan. The song was composed in 1988 as a paean to India’s famed diversity and featured musical giants such Bhimsen Joshi, M Balamuralikrishnan, Lata Mangeskhar as well as celebrities such as Shabana Azmi, Sharmila Tagore and Amitabh Bachchan. The song, along with India’s best known animated short film, Ek Chidiya Anek Chidiya, were part of the state’s concerted effort to promote social harmony.
While the strains of the song may have faded away from our television screens, it made a brief comeback late Monday evening when #MileSurMeraTumhara started trending on Twitter.
Those tweeting with the hashtag wanted to counter the hatred and bigotry that seems to have overtaken the unity in diversity narrative India prided itself on. Amid news of a cattle transporter being killed by a mob in Alwar, Rajasthan on suspicion of cow smuggling or a Muslim man was tied to a tree and beaten to death for allegedly being in love with a Hindu woman, #MileSurMeraTumhara was a small celebration of positivity.
Twitterati used the hashtag to talk about India’s syncreticism and communal harmony.
Don't get dragged into this Muslim vs Hindu debate— Rana Safvi ???? ???? (@iamrana) April 17, 2017
We have a much stronger syncretic tradition than that #MileSurMeraTumhara
Big props to whoever came up with #MileSurMeraTumhara trend. This is EXACTLY what one needed to start the day. :)— Meghnad (@Memeghnad) April 18, 2017
Music director and singer Vishal Dadlani went a step ahead and posted a short video clip on his Instagram profile that paid a tribute to the original song. “#milesurmeratumhara has been a rallying point for people talking about unity and love amongst Indians, today. Wrote a little song to honour the sentiment. May we all rise above petty hatred, and make India great! Jai Hind,” wrote Dadlani in his accompanying post.
Dadlani’s modern-day rendition has already clocked in more than 10,000 views and earned praise for its message of not letting politics divide us.
While a country of 1.2 billion will always struggle with the sheer diversity of its people, languages, religions, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara was a celebration of those differences. It featured artists from different parts of the country singing in Hindi, Assamese, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Kashmiri, Marathi, Telugu, among others. This is in stark contrast to today’s India, where efforts are made to impose an artificial homogeneity -- such as introducing sign boards in Hindi in Tamil Nadu.
With its unhurried Doordarshan aesthetic, its melodious tune and Piyush Pandey’s simple lyrics, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara reinforced the core values of a secular, tolerant, diverse India. A must listen: