Archive for the ‘Reports’ Category

Book Release: Commitment to Hindi and Knowledge


Though almost a cardinal principle in itself, the fact voiced over several times during the event, that knowledge is dependent on language became the central Vib2Deltheme of Hindi Medium Implementation Directorate’s book-release function at World Book Fair, New Delhi on Sunday the 10th February 2013. Dr. Asha Gupta, Director, with her able team, released over a dozen books written by independent authors as well as team-writers. The function was presided over by Prof. Keshari Lal Verma and included such dignitaries as Prof. Subhash Chandra Kashyap, Prof. Jagdeesh Chandra Muna, Prof. M.P. Singh and Prof. Ramesh Gautam.

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Voicing Tri-tantri Veena: Darshanam Workshop, Puna


sDSCN3518Till the moment when a fatal accident on 14th August 2011 claimed this noble, vibrant soul, Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh was moved by thought of bringing music to children, especially in India. He was on his way to attend Independence Day Celebrations at a school he had adopted. He had made Indian Classical Music work in several ways taking it to many far-east countries for the first time. Apart from traditional presentations, he innovated with Japanese artistes, introducing them to galaxy of Indian Raga-s; taught Sitar, traditionally, to young and mature learners and healed many with his music. A child prodigy himself, he realized the importance of recognizing and nurturing talent at an early age.

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Durlabh Raga Prasang: Conserving Complex Content


Idea, practice, appreciation – this is the cycle involved in creation and enjoyment of art. Expression itself holds a great value in the artistic process. Change in external circumstances, in living conditions, have honed human skills and instincts. The aesthetic element manifesting itself through numerous practices had been taken for granted. It was only as we bid adieu to second millennium that need to protect and nurture this spirit was recognized. “Art as Vehicle of Intangible” was therefore chosen as topic worthy of artistic deliberations. Pt. Rajshekhar MansurMadhukali organized annual Omenad Conference on 31st December, 1st January and 2nd January 2011 with performances by various scholar-artistes leaving lasting impression on aficionados of Bhopal. Music lovers, scholars and enthusiasts had travelled from across country to attend conference and concerts during three-day event organized by Madhukali in collaboration with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya. Several well-wishers and music-lovers had expressed their desire for organization of another such event and at cities other than Bhopal. In discussing the essence of Indian aesthetics in “Art as Vehicle of Intangible”, it had come out that more opportunities must be created for expression of art in keeping with sensibilities innate in Art, to effect course-correction.

In the domain of Indian Classical Music the urgency for safeguarding of traditional practices needs to be recognized. For it to be vehicle of intangible, Art needs to be regularly displayed. It was recognized that the there are two main areas where safeguarding efforts have to be directed.

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3rd Annual Omenad Conference


Rashtriya Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalya and Madhukali organized three day Conference on the topic, Art as Vehicle of the Intangible on December 31st 2010, January 1st and 2nd 2011. Participants from various parts of India braved the cold and were rewarded by warmth of their mutual sincerity. The nature of “intangible” was examined from several viewpoints and yet it defied concretization.  While all appreciated this endeavor as a strong first step, consensus was that at least another such conclave should be organized. The Ninad concerts were both, relief and extension of discussion. Ample time was granted to revise the papers, if necessary so that  IGRMS may publish a volume based on deliberations.

A full report is available on Omenad. Clips, pictures, reactions are on Facebook

Empowering N.G.O.-s for UN Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage


Abu Dhabi, September 28th, 2009

On the second day of the five day conference, the discussions regarding approval of draft prepared for inclusion of NGO-s in the UN meetings was taken up. State party India requested a change to remove ambiguity about the actual role and stressed that clear funding should be mentioned for organizing workshop in less-represented regions. The secretary pointed out that this was a welcome suggestion only if modalities of finance could be worked out. Estonia came up with the suggestion that mere involvement with UNESCO convention in its regular meetings would not empower the NGO-s already engaged in the safeguarding of intangible culture. Instead, workshops should be organized for them where NGO-s can meet each other, discuss their methods, concerns and aspirations. Such interaction would definitely be more interesting and useful. Korea endorsed this idea and said that it would ensure wide spread reach of the primary objective. Central Africa came forward with the suggestion that state parties should take up the cause for promotion of the convention by translating it into local languages. It was also pointed out that these workshops should be organized at regional levels and held at countries different from UN head quarters.

4COM in progress

4COM in progress

People’s belief in the routine nature of life fosters the fallacy of everything being universal and in vogue. The highly educated people involved in ideas at international level sometimes take their concerns for granted. Kenya drew attention to the fact that technical knowledge required to interact with the UN secretariat was not with many NGO-s apart from lack of other resources and therefore it becomes necessary to support them. Italy agreed with the suggestion and remarked that such workshops should be organized in countries rich in tradition of safeguarding intangible heritage. India should help developing nations for participation in these. Once again attention was drawn to the fact that simple modern conveniences should not be taken for granted for making universal policies. South Africa said that the task of safeguarding the heritage was naturally done by the traditional communities. Despite proficiency in their task they lacked the structure of a modern organization. The level of dedication and understanding with which they perform can rarely be achieved by a structured NGO. Still, these practitioners and cultural leaders should be granted the opportunity to understand the concerns of UN. However, instead of academics discussing the issues in a theoretical manner, actual cultural practitioners should exchange their experiences. In Africa there should be five such workshops, one for each of the regions, where grass-root workers of the region make an exchange which is productive and relevant. Peru endorsed this suggestion stating that region wide workshops were better equipped to reach out to local NGO-s and culture practitioners. Croatia thanked the hosts U.A.E. and the UN and agreed with the suggestions.

Mexico, carrying the discussion forward, proposed that first a main conference should be held where issues that were germane to visibility and safeguarding cultural heritage be explained so that discussions at regional conferences would retain continuity and similarity. It was also pointed out that this issue is of great interest to everyone. Agreeing with Kenya, Belarus said that in certain countries the NGO-s have no motivation, apart from little technical skill and money, to seek legal status. Kenya, at this, intervened to agree with Zimbabwe and Mexico and added that resource persons for these conferences / workshops should be drawn from those countries only which have accepted the 2003 convention and follow it in true spirit.

In truth, the ideologue and grass-root worker are so far apart that mediators are required to establish communication between the two. Often, the thought gets modified or deformed. One state party pointed out that the legal / technical language was often far beyond the understanding of simple culture practitioner. Even the literate person available to such a practitioner lacked the technical acumen to supply the information sought. It was suggested that questionnaire or forms should be made simpler to ensure better participation. Involvement of regional experts for capacity building activities would ensure superior results.

Many state parties expressed concern at the way local culture is being eroded. Panama said that the excessive use of technology was fast removing traditional practices and hindered the process of safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as its practice. Technology, as they say, is double-edged sword. The time it saves in labour is used up in enhanced routine activities – cell-phone, internet, television, commuting. The real problem behind neglect of traditional practices is not merely a change in people’s attitude but the loss of free time and hurried pace of life. People still wish to stay connected to such practices but no longer have time for its practice or appreciation. Their efforts to keep such things current pose an added threat, as being pressed for time they abridge the practices to retain merely the form while shunning the real essence.

Brazil gave a measured input summing up the existing situation and stressing upon the need to hear, understand and encourage the community NGO-s who are closest to traditional practitioners of culture. Where formal NGO-s are yet to exist, the academic or cultural bodies of experts created by government should be utilized for safeguarding intangible practices.

Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage informed that venue for workshops are yet to be finalized and state members can send their proposals soon. The draft 4COM 10 at this juncture reads:

The Secretariat of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage shall organize workshops for NGO-s in unrepresented regions aimed at facilitating the contribution of NGO-s from developing countries, in accordance with Operational Directives and to report to the committee at its fifth session on the result of these workshops.

With this approval the pathway for active participation of grass-root workers and community practitioners in gatherings designed to further the cause of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage has been established. This spells a new era in the area of cultural preservation.

Eager Fingers


While many of the students sat listening to Chandrakant ji’s recital, anecdotes and tips about listening and learning classical music, there was one who sat wondering whether she would have the courage when time came. She started off with a simple question and soon it was in the open that Vidhi Chag is herself a sitar player. It came as surprise to many and answer to a schoolmate’s query that why don’t young people play sitar? The generous artistes handed over their instruments with Ulhas Rajhans inviting Ajinkya Gandhe to accompany Vidhi.

View the youngsters perform as the maestros applaud.


How Hollow is the Cylinder?


By Shruti Tiwari

The conference room was jam-packed with interested students. It was an activity specially designed for them. In their routine classes, they learn about process of film-making and its technical aspects in fragmented details. This afternoon AATMA and Films4debate had brought them out of their classrooms for something which promises to be their chosen vocation. Dr. Akhilesh Singh introduced the coordinators of AATMA who explained why training for appreciation of arts is vital for a fuller existence. Some guests had also come including film-critics, journalists and professors from other discipline and institutions.

The film, a short documentary on issues related with bamboo, despite its relaxed pace kept everyone engrossed. The twenty five minute film seemed to end much sooner. The students were handed a questionnaire on the film and everyone started writing down their response. It is to their credit that none of the students seemed casual or disinterested. The questions dealt with communication of message and technical aspects that enhanced its appeal.

Dr. Akhilesh Singh set the ball rolling with his observation that the film did not establish a clear line of action for the people, despite presenting the problems related with bamboo pretty well. Karnika felt that the film hailed bamboo as ‘poor man’s timber’ while Pankhuri opined that it presented bamboo as an industrial alternative to timber. Bharat and several others agreed that the environmental message came out well as secondary concern. The issues were succinctly summed up by Prateek as promotion of (i) extensive use of bamboo, (ii) shattering related myths and (iii) raising awareness of bamboo as raw material for industry. Ritu Motwani bemoaned that though it was pointed out in the film that bamboo map and poverty map of India match pretty well, this was not discussed any further. Tarun agreed with the film that policies of government preclude bamboo industry from developing, but someone immediately pointed out that success story of a lady entrepreneur indicates governmental encouragement to the issue.

The students also marked certain areas as ‘grey’ and ‘fuzzy’. Tarun found that film fell short of depicting the effects of governmental policies and problems like flowering, on people related to bamboo industry. Purva found the ending abrupt because after such effective build-up, the audience expected a clear solution. Rohit felt that excessive close-up disconnected persons giving interview from background and mood of the film. Aayush seconded this opinion. This brought grunts of disagreement from many. Prateek remarked that neither was there any link to Jarwa-s, mentioned once in narration, in script nor in visuals. Runzhun felt that flowering of bamboo was again a superfluous issue mentioned without explanations.

Dr. Chandan Gupta, delighted with this opportunity of correcting his students refrained from making any immediate remarks. He introduced the technical aspects pointing out brilliant camera work by Nandan Saxena who is also the director of the film. This effectively removes any possible lack of communication between director and the cameraman. Students were at ease with technical aspects. They appreciated the angle and pace of the camera, though some did not feel comfortable with interviewees popping in and out of the frame. They all agreed that soulful use of flute enhanced the appeal of the film. Some were also charmed by the original chants of the natives trying to push rats out of the bushes. Kunal was moved by the chirping of birds; Rupak was impressed by the narration (by Jitendra Ramprakash). Someone found the shot of rat-tales quite forceful, but most students agreed that well-planned shot of bamboo being split by the lathe was most impressive. The discussion could have gone on and on, but Shri Dileep Gupte drew attention to the documentary being a film with limited goals. Almost everybody agreed that within this definition the film was complete. Dr. Chandan Gupta now pointed out that film like any other medium posses the ability to make specific communication, but like the others also has an existence beyond this limited role. One should not judge a film on delivery of information or outlining a plan or policy for action alone; how the filmmaker chooses to say is at times more important than what.

Kavita Bahl, co-director, wrote a measured script that accords this short production the fleeting quality which leaves viewers asking for more.

Malhar 2009


Appreciative Generation | 1 Aug 09

Appreciative Generation | 1 Aug 09

In January 2009, Madhukali had organized appreciation events in Bhopal and Indore. Students of Trinity Engineering College, Bhopal were addressed by Mr. G. Raj Narayan, an engineer-cum-musician of Bangalore and Veena player Smt. Radhika Raj Narayan. The engineering students were captivated by the lucid presentation of the speakers who narrated the story of how music and electronics merged empowering performers and learners of Indian music. Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh gave lecture-demonstration at Music College, Indore and Science College Indore. Story-telling and recitation by poets were planned along with film sessions in the two cities. At a media institution, after a show of his documentary……  (Click here to read more)

Music in Perspective of Globalization


U.G.C. Conference — Delhi University — 6th, 7th March 2009

Educational institutions generally organize conferences and workshops during each academic session depending upon the grants available. Such meetings of academics and professionals helps in forwarding the process of education by sharing and documentation of recent innovation, experimentation and meditation in the discipline. Where theoretical observations outweigh novel revelation, the interest of participants and the audience in the proceedings is likely to wane. The conference organized by Music faculty of Delhi University was held in the compact but acoustically strong auditorium called Shankarlal Hall. Apart from the first few rows reserved for the speakers and guests, the hall was filled to capacity with students. It was refreshing to find so many bright-eyed youth interested in music – a heritage whose epithet ‘ancient’ is more likely to drive them away. A little later, it was apparent that the students attended the seminar not due to any pressure but because the proceedings held real meaning for them. This indeed is the victory of Dean Anjali Mittal and organizing secretary Suneera Kasliwal who not only chose an interesting topic but could also motivate participants whose presence together spelled plurality of Indian music.

After the traditional Vandana (enjoyable both in composition and presentation as it was presented by students of music) and welcome address by Dr. Anjali Mittal, Shri Lalit Mansingh inaugurated the two-day seminar. He drew attention to basic ideas beneath the ubiquitous term ‘globalization’ that were of value to scholars and performers alike. Art never changes externally; when it is forced as such, it might give birth to a new genre, but the main body stays the same. It is only when the artiste changes in accordance with fundamental values that his art portrays a new look. This fact was stated in different terms throughout the seminar by speakers, artistes and observers. Among the audience were such names as Dr. Saubhagyavardhan Brahaspati, Dr. Mukesh Garg, Prof. Ravi Sharma who is looking after music courses in IGNOU, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, classical vocalist and doyen of Delhi school. The seminar was attended by a large number of ex-students of the Music faculty.

It was still a step forward when Vidushi Shanno Khurana was going down memory lane to recall the days when she first started using classical compositions in opera. As she sang out different parts, one could picture the the story unfolding on the stage. Yes, the audience shared her wonder; what was wrong with this to cause uproar and statements like ‘Shanno Khurana has abandoned serious music’. She described how gradually people began to see creativity instead of degeneration in this venture. The few lines she recited from her first Urdu opera were a treat — a rare blend of poetry, diction, drama and music.

When Prof. Vidya Dhar Vyas was invited as the next speaker, there was a momentary fear that after such a presentation would the young audience grant due attention to the scholar-performer. Some of the students had attended his lectures and looked forward to his presentation here. Dr. Vyas briefly described how technology has aided promotion and practice of Indian Classical music. He pointed out that when students from West or Far East come to learn Indian music, it is not only a body of knowledge they seek but an understanding of an alien culture as well. Most institutions and independent teachers formulate a starter module which acquaints these students with salient features of Indian culture important for understanding Indian music. He proceeded to relate how a keen student was groomed in this fashion and when everyone in the audience was curious about him, he put on a tape of his performance. No one can guess from the recording that the singer is not an Indian. Chairperson Dr. Krishna Bisht invited questions from the audience and helped the speakers in stressing an active role of musicians towards building a pluralistic global culture.

In the post-lunch session Hans Utter presented a perfect sequel to Dr. Vyas. Through his paper he emphasized the need for taking a cultural approach to understanding Indian music. He talked about the fundamental differences in western and Indian music. The very nature of western music calls for a definite progressive structure based on harmony that effects an impediment to appreciating Indian music. The Indian system is cyclic based on establishment of shadja laying stress on accuracy of microtonal units. This produces a kind of cultural deafness; unless trained for it west can not appreciate east and vice-versa. It is the degree of insight gained which marks whether the western rendering of Indian Raga approximates the original. He used compositions in Todi performed by three artistes on different instruments to substantiate this hypothesis.

Though western artistes like James Barralet and Nancy Lesh have used Cello to play Indian music, Saskia Rao de Haas has gone a step farther. She is wedded not only to Indian music but also to an Indian musician. An erstwhile student of Delhi university she completed her Ph.D. from Amsterdam and stalwarts like Pt. Hariprasad Chourasiya are all praise for her. She credits a Dutch musician for designing her Cello and Sanjay Sharma of Shivam Musicals for making her instrument. It has five playing strings with tonic in D and uses ten sympathetic strings. The deep tones of Cello suited the Bhimpalash composition in Jhaptal and teen tal. At times, the very strength also becomes its weakness as thirst for softer tones remains unquenched, but considering that this is pioneering work, Saskia comes out a winner.

The presence of a number of artistes, scholars, critics in the audience lend credence to the seminar. Dr. Krishna Bisht, who headed the music faculty till her recent retirement acted as bridge across generations and vocations. The organizers had thoughtfully arranged for the presence of major publishers of books and music. Latest releases by Sangeet Natak Akademi and Akashvani archives were on display. As they offered handsome discount, during breaks they were filled with students and visitors eager to update their libraries and collection.

Director of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Dr. Jayant Kastuar and chairperson Pt. Bhajan Sopori set the mood for second day of seminar by interpreting the paradoxical impact of globalization. Anyone who has moved out his town, city or country suddenly learns the value of native identity. Globalization has brought his realization to people without their moving out. In the plethora of activities, commotion and babble the anchor of things known and proximate is necessary for defining one’s individuality; else one’s sanity would be in question. Later Pt. Sopori expressed his complete agreement with Dr. Kastuar’s emphasis on defining policies for reinforcement of the local so that the steps to regional and national might give a stable movement to global. Despite several significant contributions to the discussion by eminent personalities, due perhaps to the essence of seminar being more artistic than philosophical, the misapprehension of globalization as an upward climb could not be successfully belied. Still, the speakers were clear about bolstering our immediate culture in order to contribute to the global one. Dr. Kastuar went as far as to state that citizens should work towards making Indian culture as the global culture. Quite patriotic! Yet, the statement was made more in spirit of encouragement than denial of pluralism. Pt. Sopori was more concerned about the heady spirit of experimentation. Egged on by an opening world market, many Indian artistes tend to experiment with fusion which is “possible only when marketing is successful”. It is no more than gymnastics or lampooning completely devoid of true music. The legendary santoor player is right to be angry because all that goes in the name of fusion rises out of material ambition and not aesthetic sensibility.

It shall take some time for Indian artistes to admit the yeoman service that Shri G. Rajnarayan has performed. If one takes the global view, wide in span and sensibility, then perhaps this engineer-musician inventor has made the largest contribution in granting expanse to practice of Indian classical music. In the words of Santoor artiste and composer Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya, “the sole invention in twentieth century which has revolutionized practice of Indian music is G. Rajnarayan

‘Role of Instruments in Indian Music’


International Conference: Bhopal, January 17-18 2009

by Shruti Shankar

The two day conference of Omenad was organized at Swaraj Bhawan, Bhopal. Scholars from various parts of India as also from varying disciplines had gathered to offer their expertise on musical instruments. Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, Professor of Ethnomusicology at Sonoma State University had planned his visit to South Asia specially to attend the conference… Read more