Monday, March 24, 2008

INDIA EMPOWERED TO ME IS When every Indian has knowledge, skill of communication

Source : The Indian Express, 25th Oct 2005
By Bhupen Hazarika

Way back in 1939, I wrote a song in which I said I was just a small spark of the age of fire, but even then I wanted to build a society where there would be no space for traders in religion and untouchability, where walls of discrimination would crumble and a paradise of equality would be created on earth.
That incidentally was my second song. In 1964, I felt that the sky had given me a wide vision, storm tremendous energy, thunder a loud voice, courage and reason—with which I would sing songs of humanity in a sea that was in the grip of pirates, and provide the silent masses a spark of life.

Music is power. Music is empowerment. Remember how those great lyrics had set the entire subcontinent on fire and provided such a great momentum to the freedom struggle? Have you ever met a person who would say he does not like music? Have you ever found a doctor who would ask his patient not to listen to music? Music is communication, very effective communication. Why do you give a coin to the blind singer on the pavement? Not because he is blind, but because he can sing.

What did Rakesh Sharma tell Mrs Gandhi when she asked him how India looked like from space? Saare jahan se achha!

I had always dreamt of an India where every individual would acquire knowledge and skills of communication. Look how strong our tradition has been since the ancient times. One two-letter word—Om!—and you acquire such unbelievable energy. It is divine power and divine energy in the form of music that kindles the fire within an individual.

In 1976, I sang about inter-caste marriages, in which I told a couple who came to seek my blessings: This is the age of mass communication through satellites in outer space. This is the age of nuclear energy, of snatching away that energy from the evil forces and using it for the benefit of the common man.

India is a vast country. Very few people have been lucky enough to have criss-crossed this country. I am one of the few who have had the opportunity as a singer and film-maker. Whether it is the illiterate sarkari gaon-burra (village headman) at Dong, the village in the easternmost tip of Arunachal Pradesh where the sun’s rays fall first on Indian soil, or the broker at Dalal Street in Mumbai, all are bound by the same music that is India. One hundred crore souls. It is not a matter of joke. Imagine their potential. Gandhiji had realised that. We are fortunate, our President APJ Abdul Kalam understands that. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh understands that. You have to be in touch with the people at the grassroots to be able to kindle the fire in them. You can do that with music. India, after all, is a wonderful mosaic of musical traditions, which can be transformed into musical power.

But I often feel sad when I notice a lack of confidence among the people, especially in the Northeast. I would not blame the young men for taking up arms. We must accept the fact that the benefits of development have not trickled down to the last village. There is a huge communication gap. The rights of the common man to enjoy the benefits of development have been usurped. It is good that the Right to Information Act has come into force. But have we told the masses about it? Have we, as the world’s largest democracy, been able to evolve an effective communication model, a two-way model that would make every citizen a partner in our dream to become a developed country by 2025?

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