Many historic songs have pushed forward a real message of independence during the first few decades of separation between India and Pakistan. The region just got free from the shackles of British rule but still faced several challenges due to the colonial past and prevalence of elite culture in the newly formed countries. These songs questioned the rampant patriotism and the kind of freedom or independence these breakaway countries were so proud of. One song “Humne Suna Tha Ek hai Bharat” is from a 1959 movie called DIDI and is picturized on Sunil Dutt. The song is penned by Sahir Ludhyani and voiced by Mohammed Rafi, Sudha Malhotra, and Aasha Bhosle. It is still relevant in Independence Day 2021 due to its simple message that did not saturate well over time. While the song mainly mentions India, it also describes the overall situation of the sub-continent with respect to India and Pakistan’s relations with each other. Both countries curse each other for the horrors of partition rather than uniting to call out the colonizers. So, this fact is necessary to bring into the limelight to end the politics of hatred in the region.
The song features Dutt as an idealist teacher who one day confronts his disillusioned students. The horrors of “independence” that still lingered in their streets were not making any sense to the kids. They said that the teacher thought them that India was one but when they looked around that was not the case. They noted that India was severely divided based on caste, religion, and language. It seemed to them that violence, oppression, and hatred never left India. This leads the teacher to think of the best reply that talks about challenges and solutions while trying to lead the students in the right direction.
Reflecting on British Colonial Rule on Independence Day 2021
The song discusses three main issues. Initially, Dutt’s character tries to make kids understand that stark differences between citizens do not mean that the country cannot be one. However, the students quickly brought up the senseless fights based on differences among followers of different religions despite all of them preaching peace and harmony. They asked if the Quran and Veda-Puran have the same message then why there was so much chaos and bloodshed. That’s where when the teacher says that the British colonizers have exploited the weaknesses on both sides. They used religious insults that made Indo-Pak people take extreme decisions and made them adrift. Such a colonial strategy is popularly called divide-and-rule. The teacher mentioned this point to allow kids in choosing a path that’s different from the extremists.
Colonization was a very traumatic experience for the subjects. Those who were colonized, suffered extreme poverty, diseases, malnutrition, economic exploitation, cultural distortion, and political and social disadvantage. Several systems were established that created a sense of racial and social inferiority in all the subjects. Many lived their lives as if they were convinced that only a “white man” has the right to rule over lesser races. It’s not limited to India, Pakistan also suffers from the “white superiority complex” and offers more privilege to the white skin than the poor and the refugees of its own separated nation. Independence Day 2021 is here but similar horror from 74 years ago is still lingering. The religious difference between Hindus and Muslims is still the main cause of violence and hatred. Even religious minorities in both countries suffer due to policies that favor the majority. For example, the news of a journalism student being denied a job for wearing a Hijab in India is one example. This exact hatred fueled by British colonialism prevented both these nations to unite on common grounds where they suffered oppression together. Instead, they are still spewing hate for each other on almost every forum.
Rich Men Taking Over Both Countries
The next issue highlighted in the song is the birth of another colonization after the British stopped theirs. After taking so-called independence, India and Pakistan created low and high order based on wealth status and bureaucratic authority. Moreover, they carried on the same flawed concept of patriarchy that was installed by the British colonists. Women were still regarded as lesser beings who just existed to serve men. In the song, the kids wonder why India is still not united as one nation after the end of British rule. They ask their teacher why one cast is respected and the other is disgraced. They said that after noticing the castes Brahmins who were glorified and Harijans who got humiliated each day. It was like the new rulers became just like those colonizers they claimed to get independence from. They also valued nationalism and money more than human lives and kept using the lower caste for their own purpose and pleasure.
These questions from the students forced the teacher to think of an appropriate answer. He says that the powerful and wealthy among them have taken control of both countries. He further explains how elites have made themselves the ultimate decision-makers for the rest of the population. They keep themselves as the leaders of the economy and education while leaving the working class for labor and exploitation. This is how they made a natural order of things in new countries.
The elite culture still prevails in both countries even on the eve of Independence Day 2021 with a common man struggling to get even basic rights. Yet the teacher in songs keeps telling his students to never let go of love because the religion which promotes hate is not a religion, it’s a curse.
The Undying Legacy Hinders Development
In the end, the students ask the teacher when will India finally see the light of day as it has been facing disbalance for a decade after independence. Sunil Dutt then assures them that the country was under British colonial rule for almost 200 years so the change will take some time. Honestly, 70 years is not that much of a time for a highly populated, culturally and ethically diverse, and geo-political strategic country to develop.
The criticism of India and Pakistan for staying underdeveloped is not relevant as it should have been directed towards the colonizers. For they were the ones to start exploiting this region for their own strategic gains. Even most locals who came to rule after them followed in their footsteps. If colonists cared so much about the indigenous of this region, they would have used their enormous wealth to help them rather than making them their slaves. Unfortunately, many people of both countries continue to criticize each other and compare these countries with Europe. This comparison is also unfair because the history of modern development as independent nations in Europe is way older than that of India.
In the song, the teacher motivates the student that they know it is up to them to bring much-awaited change in India. It remains a mystery whether Indians and Pakistanis would unite on Independence Day 2021 or keep fighting each other over the fire started by others. Here is the original video of the song “Hume Suna Tha Ek hai Bharat”.