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Thursday, November 7, 2013

No culture can protect Indian Classical Music unless it helps culture.

On November 04, 2013, Kaushiki Chakraborty – one of the prodigies of Indian Classical Music, who’s been known and admired for her outstanding vocal prowess – tweeted to gauge whether Kolkata – the cultural capital of India has lost its passion for Indian Classical Music (ICM).

Post her concert at Nashik where she witnessed unprecedented involvement of people with ICM, she realised the same kind of yearning is not prevalent anymore in Kolkata.

Not surprising that she floated her concern on the social media. It’s good that she did so unlike many others who sulk and brood in their own circle but feel it’s not politically correct to worry in public because that might give the impression they are regressive and not ready to embrace the professed modernity in line with the digital era where even cacophonies like Kolaveri Di, Lungi Dance, Pyar Ki Pungi Baja Kar, etc. are considered as songs topping the list of favourites on different FM channels; on several TV channels; and at various events on ground.  

The moot question that Kaushiki asked was, if not Indian Classical Music then what Kolkata is passionate about at present!

The question definitely has merit in it and certainly deserves an answer. Not just an answer as a mere reaction but rather an answer which got to be thoughtful for an action.

Though Kaushiki’s question provides with a loose end to jump into the conclusion… as if she meant unless one is passionate about ICM in Kolkata then chances are remote that s/he can’t be passionate about anything else in the city of joy.

But, in my humble opinion, surely, she didn’t mean that.

For a while, if ICM is put aside and the word ‘passion’ is allowed to take the centre stage, it would be much easier to understand that the word ‘passion’ has actually lost and is rapidly losing its meaning in every walk of life to ‘infatuation’ and ‘reaction’. And needless to point out, it’s not the case happening only in Kolkata, in isolation, but it’s the trend almost everywhere across India with a few exceptions here and there, perhaps.

In any society, a cultural change for the better or for the worse doesn’t occur overnight. Such changes go through a process on the basis of socio-economic condition; education; employment; and, last but not least, the value-system – both inherited and imbibed. More than inherited, it’s imbibed values that influence culture and cultural changes in a big way.

Though there has always been a tendency, and still is, to believe that a cultural change takes place suddenly in one generation or culture is the privilege of the elite class, but that’s not true.

Every culture has a heritage and the adaptability to change complementing time in order to be not outdated or ultra-modern.

No culture should ideally be evaluated in light of only music, movie, literature, fashion, etc, instead, ‘day to day behaviour of people’ – involving every class, predominantly the middle-class – in their private life as well as in public needs to be taken into consideration as the yardstick to evaluate culture and its shift or transformation.

Notwithstanding the notion that one’s behaviour depends on his gene, numerous research papers have proven and published that one’s behaviour is mainly governed by his ‘thinking process’ and that thinking process is almost entirely dependent on his ‘personality traits’.

And the biggest challenge is almost nobody knows what their personality traits are, and even if they know they are reluctant to accept, understand and realise that – especially the Neuroticism i.e the ‘emotional instability’ part which affects behaviour rather negatively turning things worse, culturally.

The moment uncultured and unethical behaviour of people at large takes place as a socially acceptable form of protest, performance, communication, education, emotion or entertainment, duly backed up by mainstream and new age media, the decay and decomposition of culture is inevitable irrespective of people’s penchant for a particular genre of music or movie.  

Simply put, such behaviour can hardly be controlled, reduced and eliminated unless people are aware of their personality traits to be and remain ‘emotionally self-aware’, so as to leverage ESA: EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS, without which ‘Self-management’; ‘Social awareness’ and ‘Relationship management’ are simply impossible to create and establish an ecology of culture for excellence and growth.

As a matter of fact, minus ESA, one is always likely to be the victim of ‘psychological pressure’ – as inflicted by family, peers, media, society, nation and the world. Once that starts to happen, it becomes impossible to guard own ground and, since, none can live alone in a human society, willingly or otherwise, a person begins to succumb; his behaviour begins to change, mostly for the worse, so does his culture.

However, it’s a ‘catch 22’ situation, for, one’s ‘personality traits’, which are the basis of his ESA, depend on the factors like morals, ethics, values, beliefs and, of course, gene. Nevertheless, the effect or impact of gene can become insignificant – and rightly so, because none is responsible for his own birth – if the other factors are developed and keep evolving for the better, continuously. This can only be possible, if the socio-economic condition is good; there is the right education (besides and beyond mere literacy and certification); there are enough employment options; and there are enough people who are ‘emotionally self-aware’ to create good values and share them with peers and the next generation.

It means, even if the people of Kolkata turn passionate about ICM that doesn’t necessarily mean they will become culturally rich, automatically.

In fact, it’s the other way round. That is, if the people from a particular place are not culturally rich, it’s tough for them to get passionate about ICM or any other good thing in life.

Hence, the need of the hour is not to make people passionate about just ICM or anything else, which is perceived as good, but to help them realise what culture is all about and, in the process, turn them passionate about it, so they keep improving the same to ensure richness and finesse without compromising on the quality for cheap popularity or any short-term gain.

To do that, what it requires to be done is, develop and evolve ‘Thought Leadership’ in people, so they can ‘lead from within’ without letting their brains get picked up by fundamentalists, clergies, politicians, celebrities, media, brands and technology (but science).

The development and evolution of thought leadership should ideally be instrumented from the nascent stage. That is from schools.

Here, music, precisely Indian Classical Music, could basically be the game changer that can change one’s life and thereby people’s life and culture, for that matter, for the better.

The spatial memory of a child, which boosts his cognitive skills that facilitate his workable memory, comprehension, analysis, creativity, calculation, language, communication and behaviour, could be improved like anything through music.

And if that music is ICM, nothing like it, given its uncompromising ‘Philosophy and Principle’ constructed by ‘Discipline’, ‘Devotion’, ‘Practice’ and ‘Perseverance’ – the four main factors that never let anyone take his talent for granted, or settle for less in case there is not much talent in the first place.

The ground reality is, as long as ICM will remain just a form of music to entertain and enthrall a selective set of people or people at large, it can never unleash its immense power to change things or culture for an productive outcome.

But, if it’s ready to get out of its comfort zone and reach the grassroots level – class, section, caste, creed, community, religion and language inconsequential – things could be totally different and look very promising and positive, gradually.

For that, it’s high time Indian Classical Music maestros and practitioners come forward and get down to the basics of sociology and economics, if they are really willing to protect ICM and create a rich culture for and around it.

Maintaining a safe distance and complaining about the corrosion of culture on the mainstream media or on the social media, frankly, will change nothing. At the most that might be good for PR (Public Relations) because, today, public can very easily relate to someone who helps them indulge in a blame game... believing they are saints but everyone else is a devil spreading evil. 

“We must do something” has long become a clichéd phrase of no use – where nobody knows who are we and what needs to be done.

After all, if someone is seriously keen to leverage Indian Classical Music (ICM) for the enrichment of culture across India for socio-economic growth, may feel free to contact us at QESEQ International to be an integral part of a big dream being fully awake and aware before it’s too late.

Our email id is: and my personal id is:      

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