Hyderabad: The prominent Hindustani singer of the famous Patiala-Kasur gharana, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, will receive his doctorate from IIT Kanpur from the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 28.
Pandit Chakrabarty was in town for the Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan National Music and Dance Festival. He drew warm applause for his exceptional performances in Ravindra Bharathi.
Chronicle of the Deccan met the maestro, who teaches at IIT Kharagpur, at a Bengali lunch, where he opened up about various issues ranging from music, government policies to society.
Q: Are you considering the possibility of making music a compulsory subject in schools and colleges?
A: I met the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, on four different occasions. We discussed the possibility of introducing music in educational institutions. But, he remained a non-starter. It will not work because the Indian political system will not accept such a program. Their agendas are different. Moreover, if you look at the representatives of the public and the bureaucrats, you conclude that culture and heritage are far beyond their comprehension. They have no knowledge about them. Going further, I can see that if music is made compulsory in schools, society will have fewer criminal minds.
Q: As a leading musician you have played everywhere. What changes have you noticed in the company over the years?
A: People have become more self-centered. Unfortunately, the younger generations lack discipline. On the children’s side, new vices appear in the form of gadgets they have become addicted to. Personally, I think parents should be blamed for this unfortunate development.
Q: Personally, do you think people are gradually losing interest in traditional music. What is the future of Indian classical music?
A: Contrary to the apprehensions propagated by the doomsday prophets, I see a very dynamic future for classical music in India. In fact, the past five years have shown that not only more and more people are showing an interest in learning classical music, but there has been a more than encouraging response from listeners. This is a welcome development given that its popularity had waned over the previous two decades.
Q: Do you think there is a need to establish more institutions that transmit music in the country?
PAC: There, indeed, there is a great need. However, the emphasis should be on the appointment of a qualitative faculty. It goes without saying that most of the existing institutes have inferior or less than mediocre teachers. They are there for a job. They lack passion. We should also have classical music enthusiasts as decision makers.
A: What suggestions would you make to the government to revive the glory days of our classical music?
PAC: I can guarantee that classical music can help restore normalcy in society. Since cinema is a more important medium when it comes to reaching a larger audience, the censorship committee should require that every film contain at least one three-minute classical music clip.
Unfortunately, rather than giving equal importance to traditional Indian music and cultural heritage, our governments are obsessed with financial development alone. They should realize that this spawns more and more criminals.