Deepavali, the festival of lights, must have lit up hearts and minds in different parts of the world, spreading the message of joy, love and peace. It brings to mind the oft-quoted lines Asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya .... (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). A prayer to lead us from the ignorant state of darkness towards the light of knowledge; to lead us away from fraud and deception to truthfulness; to help us all to practise and propagate the arts with honesty and integrity.
The Vigilance Awareness Week this year—observed from 28 October to 2 November—coincided with Deepavali, focusing on the theme “Integrity — a way of life”. The Central Vigilance Commission believes that this theme will help to draw the attention of all sections of society, especially the youth, to the significance of ethical conduct in the building of an honest, non discriminatory and corruption free society. The objective is to promote integrity and probity in public life through citizen participation. Combating corruption is not just a matter of making laws and creating institutions, but is deeply rooted in human values and morals of individuals. It calls for the numerous players in the arts scenario— including artists, organisers, writers, teachers and administrators—to come forward to weed out corrupt practices in the system. Giving a bribe is as bad as asking for one; so shouldn’t musicians and dancers refuse to “pay to perform” rather than simply bemoan the malpractice? Do not pay in cash or kind to secure a performance slot. But pay to attend good programmes, lecdems and conferences for they can be a learning experience.
Wonder why there is this mad rush to get up on stage and perform even if one is half-baked! Watch out we could come across a lot of mediocrity during the extended season. Students are told to learn art for art’s sake but what is happening is to the contrary—art has become competitive like sports. Competitions are being conducted by all and sundry while parents seem to be ever ready to pay a considerable fee to enable their “budding talent” to compete and get a printed certificate! Does it serve any purpose? Most often it is not a record for excellence!
Coming to Sruti magazine, our readers can be proud that Sruti stands for objectivity and integrity. Sruti has never made any compromises along the way nor has it succumbed to pressures, power or money in publishing articles—we turn such offers down with a firm “No”. On completing 36 years we have received innumerable congratulatory messages. Till a few years ago, we used to receive letters by post and email which we would publish in Sruti Box. Times have changed and letter writing is on the wane. This time we have received hundreds of congratulatory messages and comments on Facebook. In step with the times, we hope you will “like” to read some of them in the Sruti Box section. This month we have interesting stories for you about south Indian classical dancers—Raja Radha Reddy and Jayalakshmi Eshwar—who have made the Capital their home; and about two Carnatic percussionists—T.A.S. Mani and Manoj Siva—with different approaches to their art. I remember watching the Kuchipudi duo of Raja and Radha Reddy in the late 1970s and 1980s. They made a very attractive pair on stage—he tall and dark with striking looks and she petite and lovely like a “paavai vilakku” idol come alive. Their speed and timing, brilliant coordination in nritta, eloquent abhinaya, their bold sringara poses and dynamic presentations have won them fans worldwide. The Reddys have successfully established a home for Kuchipudi in Delhi.
With rising costs of publication, we are going in for a small hike in our subscription rates. Henceforth one issue of Sruti will cost 85 rupees only. Am sure you will continue to support your favourite magazine as it still costs less than a plate of dosa with beverages during the season! And mark your dates on 7 and 8 December 2019 for the Lec Dem Mela organised by Sruti and The Music Forum at Arkay Convention Centre, Chennai. The theme is Vadya Sammelan—on the origin, history, styles and intricacies of musical instruments.