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The One Tune: Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

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Piyush Panigrahi:

That as a nation India encompasses a diversity of cultures, of languages and of people is a wonder in itself. But still, all these cultures and all these people speaking so many different languages do unite and assemble under on single umbrella. They have the same hearts beating for their very same motherland. All of them dance to the one tune that eulogizes their motherland. 22 years back, when late Suresh Mullick conceived and directed that one tune that unites this diversity of cultures, a legend was born. Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, the magnum opus on the unity of India unfolded on 15th August, 1988. Instilling pride and patriotism in the Indian populus, this masterpiece carried forward the legacy of the Jana Gana Mana composed by Rabindranath Tagore and was proclaimed as the unofficial national anthem of India.

The concept for Mile Sur was developed in 1988 by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad, and promoted by Doordarshan and India’s Ministry of Information. The song was composed by Ashok Patki, co-composed & arranged by Louis Banks, written by Piyush Pandey and recorded by a group of people from all walks of life. The execution coup was to get music–Hindustani, Carnatic classical and popular, traditional and modern, 13 languages and regions into one piece that was harmonious to the ear and the eye. Raga Bharavi, a sampoorna raga, was chosen as the base for the music. After trying with some of the Hindi virtuosos, Suresh Mullick briefed a young account manager to have a go at it–thinking that he could bring some innocence to the lyrics. At his eighteenth attempt, the young lad got it right and from this emerged the now famous line Mile sur mera tumhara. The young account manager grew up to become today’s Piyush Pandey. To get the right fusion of music, Suresh Mullick enlisted the help of two geniuses from two different streams–Louis Banks and the late P Vaidyanathan, a classically trained musician. Working together, they created the magical score–rendered by three doyens of music–Bhimsen Joshi, Balmurli Krishna and Lata Mangeshkar.

Getting the celebrity artistes to do their bit on screen was the output of some very detailed planning and assiduous hard work of the production teams–of Ogilvy films and the producer Kailash Surendranath’s unit. When the concept is inspiring and the cause noble, getting celebrities to co-operate and participate is not so difficult. Yet to align with over 30 busy people in 20 locations across India within their own professional schedules and yet ensure a sense of uniformity, requires a ‘big picture’ visualisation and this was the genius of Suresh Mullick, Kailash, his production team and the never say die spirit of Vicky Bangera, Ogilvy’s film man. It featured many national icons of the time, including, Amitabh Bachchan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kamal Hassan, Balamurlikrishna, Lata Mangeshkar, Prakash Padukone just to a name a few. “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” showcased the diversity of India to establish its message of unity. The song captivated and enthralled every Indian and an entire generation vividly recalls the iconic opening lines sung by Bharat Ratna Shri Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

22 years hence, when the Republic of India celebrated its diamond jubilee anniversary, a new version of Mile Sur mera Tumhara named Phir Mile Sur was launched on the eve of Republic Day. Amitabh Bachchan launched this song and was proud that he was the only one who was common in both the songs. This version titled Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara features Indian musicians, singers, sportspersons and film personalities from the current generation. The current version (16 min 17 sec) runs longer than the older version (6 min 9 sec) and has been directed by Kailash Surendranath who had produced the original version of Mile Sur Mera Tumhara as well. The new version also retains music composer/arranger Louis Banks. More than 60 of India’s icons have lent their support to this initiative which has taken almost a year to create. It took more than 60 days of on-location shoot, across 15 cities of India, 30 days of post production, 22 of India’s biggest superstars, 18 of India’s best musicians, 13 of India’s best artists and singers, 15 of India’s most renowned icons to create this magnum opus. Each artist speaks of a cause and the video is shot at places which have historical value and significance.

ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE SONG

LATEST VERSION OF THE SONG

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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