This was my India

This second wave was supposed to be over by now. Instead, it’s getting worse, and worse still is predicted. Sad, sad, sad. And scary. I feel the inadequacy of words to describe feelings. They are animal – of the heart and of the gut – and defy verbalisation.

Meanwhile, as the war against Covid rages on, and people are reeling in fear and grief, the war between the sane and the lunatic right is also on full tilt. The recent assembly election results offer a glimmer of hope that we may yet advance on that front, but yesterday in Bangalore, this happened: Our very own elected MLA and MP stormed a Covid War Room, picked out the 16 members (out of a total of 205) of the Other Religion, and screamed at them for ‘running a Haj committee or a madrasa’. They alleged massive irregularities in recruitment of medical staff and allotment of hospital beds. Aaaargh! Is this really what we need right now?

Enough of the news! I want to remember the India that was. Not the made up golden past, when we were supposedly tech wizards, space walkers and plastic surgeons, but the idealistic India of the 60s, 70s and 80s. When we took the pledge in school every morning that went ‘All Indians are my brothers and sisters’. I googled and found a treasure trove on YouTube. My favourite was the cute Ek Anek song. I love those sweet childish voices, reminding me of my daughters when they were little.

What alien planet did our politicians grow up in? Were they never exposed to the ideas of the National Integration programme, and the wildly popular ‘Unity in Diversity’ songs? Or were they completely impervious? How? I wish we could make these songs compulsory watching in parliament, assuming parliament even convenes.

By the way, there were many wonderful things in our glorious past. As a race, I think we were contented, nature-loving, generous, blessed with ingenuity and an amazing aesthetic sense. The tide of liberalisation seems to have swept these qualities away, and brought us instead many bad qualities to add to our existing ones. Which I need not list – you know them as well as I do. You cannot walk five minutes on any street without meeting them all.

Anyway, here are some of the songs on YouTube. Take a break from the news and enjoy!

Ek anek. A lovely folksy story about strength in unity.

Mile sur mera tumhara. Iconic song in raag Bharavi, led by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and a host of great pan-Indian musicians. Don’t miss the comments. It’s the pulse of the people!

Baje sargam har taraf se. Beautiful song in raag Desh, again performed by a galaxy of greats.

Here’s a nostalgic article on the last two songs. There was another, not so popular one, It went, ‘Alag alag hai hum sab lekin ek hamara desh hai’. That seems to have vanished into the depths of the Doordarshan archives, never to be heard again.

There is (of course) an opposite point of view, also valid. That India can never be a unified nation. That Hindi and homogeneity are being imposed on us simply because the British saw us as one lump of brown people while Delhi sees the people south of the Vindhyas as one black lump; and the East and North East as something else, you’ll have to ask them what. That we never were a nation, and we should not be a nation. Perhaps there should be no nations. I like that idea even better. Imagine

I feel music definitely has the potential to heal our hearts and quench our angers. I wish it could also cure our illnesses. Do you think it could help, at least a little?


10 responses to “This was my India

  1. Ek Anek, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara… Soundtracks of childhood! Your post makes me nostalgic. I do recognise the sense of disappointment.

    ‘What alien planet did our politicians grow up in?’ – I’ve been seeing that as a mirror of what we as a society are. It goes all the way up from a panchayat to a consistency leader, for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We seem to work only under a charismatic leader. Let’s hope one will somehow appear in the next election to push and pull us towards humane and civic behaviour.


  2. That’s good – I guess. Cultural homogeneity isn’t a desirable thing, but differences do seem to translate into conflict. The world would be a far nicer place if we all adopted the French slogan, Vive la difference!


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