The most famous song of Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar, 'Aye Mere Watan' was written in the backdrop of 1962 Indo-China war. The song was written as a tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives at the war front for the country.
The immortal song was first sung on January 27, 1963 in a huge charity show organised by the flm fraternity, Ministry of Defence in New Delhi's National Stadium in front of 50,000 people and in the presence of the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. According to Rajya Sabha TV, around Rs. 2 lakh were raised for the defence fund from the event.
"Those who don't feel inspired by 'Aye mere watan ke logo' doesn't deserve to be called a Hindustani", said Nehru, who was visibly moved by the song. The song received rave appreciation from across the country.
In 2013, Lata Mangeshkar told NDTV that initially she had declined to sing the song as she had not got enough time to rehearse the song. "It was Pradeepji, (Kavi Pradeep) the poet, who wrote the immortal lyrics, who came to me and asked me to sing the song. I declined, because there was no time to rehearse. You see, at that time I was working round-the-clock. To give special attention to one song seemed impossible. But Pradeepji insisted," Lata said, admitting that she was very nervous before the performance.
Kavi Pradeep, the man who penned lyrics of the song, couldn't witness the event. "My regret is that Pradeepji had not been called for the Republic Day function where I sang the song. If he was there, he would have seen with his own eyes what impact 'Ae mere watan ke logo' had," Lata told NDTV.
India was not fully prepared for the war, which had started out of the blue and the defence had a tough time organising funds. The song inspired the soldiers to withstand the hard situations they were in, said Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant to Rajya Sabha TV, which had telacasted a special programme on the song on its 50th anniversary.
The Republic Day Parade in 1963 was attended by very few jawans as the troops were in the border at that time. Brigadier recalls that to boost the confidence of jawans and to express his solidarity with them, Nehru himself marched along with the soldiers.