Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tenali’s Tantrum: For the love of kith and kin

Tenali’s Tantrum: For the love of kith and kin
By U. Mahesh Prabhu

It is hard to determine the extent to which parents today can go towards promoting their kids, to make them famous. This is truer in case of the parents in the urban areas. Having hailed from modest background with little or no scope to harness their skills and develop their talents with their financial prowess they want to ensure that the opportunities are made available to their children. There is nothing wrong with this mentality. It’s indeed commendable to ensure that you make provision for your kids of which you were once deprived of. After all that is also an important aspect of parenthood.

But what is not commendable is the obsession to promote one’s offspring at the cost of others. In Mangalore, a few months back I met a bright and promoting Hindustani classical singer. With all his passion, dedication and sincere perseverance he has hardly been able to make a mark until now. He’s in his early 20s. Yes, it’s a young age but there are several others, even younger in age, yet an enviable exposure. The only reason for him being yet to get a fair chance to prove is skill is absence of ‘God father’. His guru a distinguished persona in the Music world passed away just after training him - making him, literally, orphan in the world of Music. It has been over three years since his mentor passed away and still he hasn’t got a soul to promote him.

In Mangalore alone there are umpteen societies, forums and associations for promoting talents. Government of India and Karnataka spends virtually a fortune, as they say, ‘to identify and promote talents’. The funds are certainly allocated and events are held from time to time. The corruption is yet to play a spoil sport and yet all these funds are yet to benefit this struggling artiste.

The reason is simple. Handfuls of people dominate all the committees and organization ‘committed’ for promoting talent. And these people have been since the very beginning utilizing their position to promote their own kith and kin. You said unfair? Absolutely!

The following are some of the tricks they employ. The government allocate funds for conducting events here. For a music event, the chairperson calls for artists from places far and wide. The artists are paid a premium. And most of time, one may find that the ‘upcoming’ artist is son of a person who chairs concert in his city. And most of the time there is an understanding between them to exchange their kids. In this way, funds allocated by governments are being utilized continuously for promoting kids of these ‘patriarch’s of music’.

Yes, you should have the curiosity to learn the name of people involved. But will it not be unfair if only few are named? And to name them all, the space allocated for this column would just be not enough.

Such practices are being occurred not just in Mangalore but all over the country. ‘To excel in Music one ought to be a [‘big father’s son.’] says a budding artist. And with all the bit of research I have found no testimony to prove him otherwise.

Music, arts and culture are not just subjects but part and parcel of this country’s rich heritage and diverse legacy. Because these are not object you can seldom preserve them in museums. You have to motivate people with true talents for them to live. How is an organization to promote talents when its trustees, directors and mentors are busy promoting their kith and kin? Yes, it is certainly not bad for a trustee to promote this progeny or relative, but that should not be at the cost of those who deserve a legitimate opportunity.

Aren’t by such practices these personalities at the helm of such organization killing the talents and, also, the art? Aren’t these men guilty of conspiracy of eliminating a culture?

One may not be trained in arts, culture or music. But the basic essence of these is to amuse the observer. The interests of masses in these arts, culture and music are dying fast. The death shall be faster should these men allowed to chair these organization and promote, unjustly, their relatives. This has to stop. This ought to end.

Author is Director of Prabal Publishing, Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London (UK) and Visiting Faculty & Hon. Prof. of Journalism

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