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India: Reclaiming our Heritage: Concerned citizens statement condemning the attack on classical musical expression in south India

Friday 21 September 2018, by siawi3

Source: http://www.sacw.net/article13931.html

Reclaiming our Heritage: Concerned citizens statement condemning the attack on classical musical expression in south India

sacw.net - 20 September 2018

In a recent occurrence in South India, eminent classical musicians have been intimidated, their concert engagements cancelled, due to pressure from intolerant forces that claim to speak on behalf of Hindus; thereby seeking to dictate the content and nature of cultural performances and music. We, the undersigned, register our strong protest and condemn this continual harassment, intimidation and the use of other undemocratic methods to silence voices. These are expressions of creativity, unity, humanity which are helping shape the building of a modern syncretic tradition in Indian classical music.

In the climate of social policing and restrictions on writers, thinkers and artists, the recent attacks on Carnatic musicians of repute, has again raised the sceptre of fear. This reflects the failure of the rule of law and constitutional guarantees. It is alarming that neither independent institutions such as the courts nor the governments whose duty it is to protect democratic space and freedom of expression, have stepped in to take decisive steps to end this menace.

It therefore falls upon artists, civil society groups and citizens to come forward and protect the democratic and constitutional right to creative expression. We cannot allow the intimidation and threat of violence by a (small) group which arrogates to itself, the role of being the keeper of culture, tradition and heritage. This has largely gone unchallenged by the rest of civil society, except by some musicians themselves.

Music is an expression of the universal truth of harmony of existence and connects people through its appreciation. It has the capacity to be understood and bring together people across boundaries. It underscores the cross-cutting links amongst religions, blending the plurality into the oneness of sound and its appeal to all human beings and has reinforced beliefs in plurality and tolerance. While the content and the lyrics bring in the varied perceptions and understanding of people and communities, music establishes the universality of a multi-cultural society.

Carnatic music is a system of classical music which over the centuries has absorbed the cultural milieu of contemporary times and while the compositions were composed in the classical style, they celebrated differing perceptions of divinity. While the majority religion and its composers have predominantly occupied musical space, there have been composers whose lyrics have been in praise of different religious denominations. That is how it should be.

Many musicians have received threats by right wing Hindu organisations, for bringing people and religions together on a musical platform. Some of them have been bullied into making apologies and cancelling concerts. O. S. Arun was invited by T. Samuel Joseph a long time student and teacher of Carnatic music to render Carnatic compositions on Christ. He was attacked online and pressure was put on him to cancel. He cancelled citing personal reasons. Within days, WhatsApp and social media clippings of Nithyasree Mahadevan rendering a Christian song began circulating with comments to establish disapproval. The SSVT Temple in Washington DC which had invited T.M. Krishna to sing, cancelled the invitation at the behest of self-appointed Hindu gatekeepers.

T. M. Krishna in a statement said: ” Considering the vile comments and threats issued by many on social media regarding Carnatic compositions on Jesus, I announce here that I will be releasing one Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah”.

We want to express our support and appreciation for the very positive efforts of these musicians and register our protest against stigmatising them. We reassert the universal truth that music is not and cannot be denominational, and an exclusive domain of any one religion. All music is open to participation to people of all communities, and musical heritage belongs to humanity. We condemn the nascent attempts to limit and stifle free expression and invite you to join in voicing your protest.

175 first signatories:

1 Ashok Vajpeyi
Aruna Roy
Justice A P Shah
Justice K Chandru
Shyam Benegal
Girish Karnad
Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Anand Patwardhan
Rajmohan Gandhi
Devaki Jain
Romila Thapar
Mallika Sarabhai
Leela Samson
Shubha Mudgal
Kiran Seth
Tripurari Sharma
Ram Rahman
Malavika Sarukkai
Charul Bharwada
Vinay Mahajan
Prabhat Patnaik
Jayati Ghosh
Anand Teltumbde
Satish Deshpande
Abha Sur
Amit Bhaduri
Zoya Hasan
Ashish Nandy
Perumal Murugan
Ramachandra Guha
Shiv Visvanathan
Syeda Hameed
Indira Jaising
Prashant Bhushan
Shantha Sinha
N C Saxena
Wajahat Habibullah
38.Julio Ribeiro
John Dayal
Maj Gen S.G. Vombatkere
Namita Gokhale
Abha Bhaiya
Mukul Kesavan
Babu Mathew
Somasundar Burra
Jagdeep Chhokar
Devasahayam MG
Shabnam Hashmi
Bezwada Wilson
Harsh Mander
Medha Patkar
Henri Tiphagne
Dunu Roy
A K Shivakumar
Shekhar Singh
Swami Agnivesh
Kamla Bhasin
Teesta Setalvad
Rudrangshu Mukherjee
P Sainath
Rosamma Thomas
Pamela Phillipose
Keshav Desiraju
S Parasuraman
Mary E John
Bela Bhatia
Irfan Engineer
Nityanand Jayaraman
Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
S. Anandalakshmy
Vasanth Kannabiran
Imrana Qadeer
Nareshwar Dayal
Ashok Kumar Sharma
Uma Pillai
Kamal Jaswal
Uzramma
Dipali Taneja
Anjana Mangalagiri
80.Brijesh Kumar
Anjali Banerji
Radha Gopalan
Ishrat Aziz
Nagal Samy
Niranjan Pant
86.Ashok Sharma
C Balakrishnan
Dr. M A Ibrahimi
S. Y. Quraishi
Fabian KP
Abhijit Sengupta
Deepak Sanan
Nilanjan Hajra
Vinoo Bhagat
Rajni Bakshi
Alok Perti
Bhanumathi Sharma
Arani Roy
Mamta Jaitly
Rekha Bezboruah
Nisha Malhotra
Jyothi Krishnan
D K Manavalan
P Bhattacharya
V Ramani
Salahuddin Ahmad
Hirak Ghosh
M B Pranesh
Lakshmi Pranesh
Shanti Kakar
Geetha Thoopal
Vibha Puri Das
Ardhendu Sen
Madhu Bhaduri
S P Ambrose
Arun Kumar
Sushil Tripathi
Ravi Budhiraja
Narendra Sisodia
Vineeta Rai
Anna Dani
Vappala Balachandran
Amitabha Pande
Lalit Mathur
Kalyani Chaudhuri
EAS Sarma
Aftab Seth
Nitin Desai
Deb Mukharji
K.R. Venugopal
Noor Mohammad
Subodh Lal
Shivshankar Menon
Trilochan Singh
Sanjivi Sundar
Pranab Mukhopadhyay
Gopalan Balagopal
Meenakshisundaram SS
Aditi Mehta
Meena Gupta
Sujatha Rao
Umrao Salodia
Dr. Raju Sharma
Ravi Vira Gupta
Anita Agnihotri
Vikram Vyas
Basant Hetamsaria
Arundhati Dhuru
Gabriele Dietrich
Krishnakant Chauhan
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Poonam Muttreja
M Y Rao
Ananya Vajpeyi
Hindal Tyabji
M N Roy
A. Selvaraj
Suhas Kolhekar
Ramesh Gangolli
Moyukh Chatterjee
Anand Murugesan
Devram Kanera
Dipak Roy
N K Raghupati
Samantha Agarwal
Ahona Palchoudhuri
Lekha Bhagat
Durgesh Solanki
Sidharth Rattan
Purnima Singh
Paras Banjara
Nachiket Udupa
Swarna Rajagopalan
Anant Nath
175 Sumita Mehta