Debate on social media has largely given way to abuse, invectives and, worse, even threats. People are divided down the middle, taking hard stands and refusing to engage with courtesy. Communities are divided and at each other’s throats perpetually.
In 1988, things were slightly different.
Composed in 1988 by classical musician Bhimsen Joshi, and arranged by the “godfather of Indian jazz” Louis Banks, with lyrics by adman Piyush Pandey, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara (video above), directed by Kailash Surendranath, was an initiative from the Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad and broadcast on Doordarshan after the prime minister’s Independence Day address. Featuring a mix of languages, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Marwari, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu, the song featured a range of Indian icons of the time to evoke the theme of unity in diversity.
It was this song, which became a sort of unofficial anthem, that sparked a trend on social media on Tuesday, with the #MileSurMeraTumhara tag being used to images of religious unity and a syncretic tradition.
A new version of the video and song for Mile Sur Mera Tumhara was aired in 2010, but without as many languages and with an increased focus on movie stars. It did not have the same impact.