The Evening Pandit Nehru cried
By Pravin B Dave
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Chinese aggression on India’s border in NEFA and Ladakh. It also reminds us of the period when “watan ki aabroo khatre’ me’ hai” ; “aawaz do hum ek hai” ; “aapni azadi ko hum mita sakte’ nahi” ; ” kar chale’ hum fida jaan aur tun” , all by the patriot of all patriots – our great Sahab, and “ai mere watan ke logo” by Lataji.
For the very first time in 1962 I watched my idol Rafi S’ab and the Concert at the National Stadium, New Delhi, through a pair of powerful binoculars. A whole string of stars, singers and the Cine Musicians’ Orchestra were flown out from Mumbai.
Penned by Kavi Pradeep, composed by maestro C. Ramchandra, “ai mere watan ke logo” was for the first time ever rendered by Lataji that evening. This is the number that even now evokes patriotism and is Lataji’s one of the best. It is said that the number was for Aashaji to sing in front of the dignitories and thousands of audience. That did not happen. There is no evidence to show that Aashaji’s assignment was ‘stolen’.
Here comes my own personal view.
The Concert aforesaid was organised to augment National Defence Fund and apart from VVIPS was attended by a broken, emotionally drained Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Chinese “brothers” had betrayed him by killing the ill-equipped Indian soldiers, grabbing Indian land. His Defence Minister Krishna Menon had misled him, let him down. Soldiers were retreating against the suicidal Chinese; the top Commander in the area was labelled as incompetent. In short, Panditji was in deep trouble.
Yes, Panditji probably cried that evening but for a different reason! Not due to the effect of the rendition, however touching. In all probability his mind was far from the Concert that Evening.