Arts, culture, music and cinema
Culture is a complex word and concept. Modern culture basically means Western European culture
Modern culture as it evolved in the late 18th and early 19th century, industrialized England. What the thinkers, writers, poets and critics led by Mathew Arnold is what I take here as examples. Arnold’s three classes, Philistines, Barbarians and the Populace are what we see here today too! Very similar in their aspirations and perceptions. All money, selfishness and material comforts. Patriotism! Where is it? American Dream, Yenkeeism is what we pretend to be! Now, read these lines!
Blessed are those who are touched by music and culture. There is a hurry and speed everywhere and in every sphere. So, there is some restlessness and even some impatience when we talk of music and education. You see, there is much more hurry and competition in the education field to gain advantage and one-upmanship in making money in the education field. It is unfortunate and even we are embarrassed to talk of education and music in such manner but it is the reality.
In the last generation at least there was some sense of balance and some harmony in education goals. We taught many things. One important thing was manners and discipline and even morals and ethics through some age-old texts. Now, it’s all gone.
As for arts, culture and even latest issues like TV channels there is very little time and very little thought to introduce such new opportunities.
Just now, we read that Al Zazeera, the Qatar-ruling family promoting high quality TV channel that almost rivals the famed BBC, announced that it is closing down its American focused channel, Al Zazeera America, for lack of viewers. We imagine, at least, we at this media imagine that the USA is an advanced society. And that there is a demand for high quality arts and culture channels and reliable news channel. No! There is not. We are told by Al Zazaara that in a country that thrives on Fox Channel and CNN; the viewership for Al Zazeera is hardly 30,000 viewers. It is in the USA, an advanced society, a civilized society!
So, how do we see the new India we are building here? In many of our contacts here with schools and educational institutions, we find a total insensitivity to all such questions and concerns.
Education here is all about high pressure targets; in Kota in Rajasthan there are increased suicide news. There are lots of such tragedies elsewhere owing to pressure on students. The very young are burdened with such pressures also.
Our education is a source of great worry for concerned parents. But no educator talks out openly of any of these growing new issues in Indian education. So, where is the time for arts, culture, music and music appreciation and so too cinema, art cinema, films directed by directors like Girish Kasaravalli and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
So, we thought there must be some time for reflecting on the role of music, singing and music appreciation. So too other arts in education. We are from Santiniketan. This personal note is to give an idea what we are talking here is old wine for us! Now, music is also a big industry, a global industry, as per the latest data with a music sales of 15 billion dollars. Of course it means the pop music industry where the musicians are now millionaires and billionaires.
Mozart, as we know, was born poor, lived a very poor musical life and died unknown and in an unmarked grave! Yes, the old time music, even in India was such only. We have two books before us when we started to type. Classical Music by Julia Johnson, Oxford and The Triumph of Music, The Rise of composers Musicians and their Art, 1700, to the present by Tim Blanning, Penguin.
These two books are just examples. There are any numbers. The basic message is that Western music is very powerful in its history and its talents. You can spend a lifetime to this topic. We all appreciate classical music, both the European as well as the Indian classical music. Why classical music, as classical literature is very basic and very important for a wholesome education. So too, we have to really reform our curriculum that puts emphasize on the classical texts, at least one or two texts on Greek and Roman history, so too one or two classical music composers in Indian and Western music for the students to listen at least.
There must be some break to this current breakneck speed to memorize the texts for exams. Three has to be a strong Indian history point of view for Indian education goals. We have to create a new robust self-confident nation, self-confident citizens, kill the embedded inferiority complex and servile mindset. All these are the outcome of our long slavery. To free the Indian mind from such fixations, we need culturally rich Indian culture based curriculum.
We have been writing on the Macaulay ghost for long! But not yet any hopeful sign for positive change! But it is our duty to achieve the goal. We have to leave out the men and women who got us freedom. The writings of Gandhi and Nehru and many others might not suit the demands of the day.
There is this American dream in India, among the students and even among the parents. This is the second industrial revolution for us, the IT revolution promised big jobs and big pay scales. We know how the first industrial revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to a new ‘Culture and Anarchy’, please read the Mathew Arnold text carefully. We have to identify our new class of Philistines, ‘Barbarians’ and the Populace’.
Today anyone who makes money enters politics and even if he or she gets caught in criminal cases, there is no shame; no one bothers to feel ashamed, and even the big time defaulters on big bank loans can walk freely and once more indulge in the same trade.
We are living in dangerous times. We really need good education values, we need much culture and we need certain awakening. Bharat Mata Ki Jai!