United we stand, divided we fall

The advertisement 'Tree of Unity' perfectly points out that parochial tendencies should be thwarted to enjoy the fruit of unity.


Photo Credit: Shantanu/YouTube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF1vkfyvtdg). Copyright: Films Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

Vaidehi Dhakate

Namaste, Namaskaram, Namaskar, Vanakkam, Sasriyakal.
The way we greet each other in different languages goes on. Isn’t it fascinating how all these words, belonging to the same country, mean the same in different languages? Have we ever wondered whether communication can exist without a language? The Tree of Unity ad has proven that you don’t need to use words to convey a message.

Founded in 1948 in Mumbai, Films Division of India, generally referred to as Films Division, was the first state film production and distribution unit. In October 1961, Pandit Nehru instituted the National Integration Conference to discuss how to move the nation beyond casteism, linguistic divisions, communalism, and regionalism.

Until 2013, National Integration Day was celebrated on November 19th, the birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi. However, our first home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the one responsible for the physical integration of the nation, ensuring that all 550 odd princely states agreed to join the Indian union. He never compromised over his duty and thus earned the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”. Although Patel had a major role to play, the National Integration Day wasn’t celebrated on October 31st, which marks the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi.

The Council came up with concrete suggestions, especially in the field of education. Some of the suggestions included singing the National Anthem every day, and textbooks being written at the national and not state level. The most evident results were noticed in the field of mass media propaganda. In the year 1972, the earliest animators worked with the Films Division to promote national integration through the campaign, Tree of Unity.

The advertisement features seven to eight characters collectively working towards planting a tree. After nurturing it with soil and water, their efforts pay off when the tree grows from a small sapling to a huge fruit-bearing tree. All the characters start jumping in joy and cheer loudly. This indicates that a message of support and a sense of celebration can be conveyed without the use of language.

However, every story has a twist. When a woodcutter arrives and decides to cut the tree, the other characters rally to stop the woodcutter. They make peace and dance around the tree.

This proves that animation will never lose its relevance. Delivering a message through ads, without the involvement of any dialogues remains a big challenge. But, Films Division achieved this by not only delivering the message of integration but also the message of planting trees, all without a single word.

Over the years, the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, and All India Radio collaborated with Films Division, Prasar Bharati, Doordarshan, etc, reinforcing this advertisement, which ran up till the late 80s.

The Films Division was indeed ahead of its time, proving that “pictures speak louder than words”.

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