EDITORIAL | Krishna’s sublime freedom raga

EDITORIAL | Krishna’s sublime freedom raga

Carnatic music vocalist TM Krishna perform during the concert," Awam ki Awaz" at the Garden of Five Senses in New Delhi on Saturday, Nov 17,2018 .(PTI Photo)

The AAP government of Delhi acted rightly and honourably by inviting Carnatic musician T M Krishna to perform in the national capital on Saturday. The AAP government’s gesture has shown in sharper relief the wrong done by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which had sponsored a programme by the musician and then postponed it because of “some urgent engagements’’. The postponement was actually a cancellation, and it was not just an insult to the artiste, but a challenge to the artiste’s right to sing, to speak and to write. Krishna is an outspoken critic of the Narendra Modi government, the BJP and the Hindutva ideology. His persistent criticism of the government’s policies and ideology drew vicious trolling on a large scale from Hindutva activists, and there is no doubt that that is what led the public sector organisation to drop the programme.   

Krishna is among the foremost practitioners of Carnatic music today and has tried to make the largely tradition-bound music more inclusive and democratic. He has tried to break some entrenched conventions of the music and taken it to castes and classes which were thought to have been beyond its appeal. He has sung compositions on Jesus and Allah, Gandhiji and Tukaram, and verses by author Perumal Murugan to affirm the universality of the art. Music has no language, no boundary, and it is for the entire society. Apart from being a rebel with a raga, he has also been a staunch critic of the present government and the Hindutva ideology and its champions. As an activist, he has supported the rights of women and other underprivileged and oppressed social groups advocated environmental causes and pointed out the dangers of the brand of narrow religious nationalism being propagated in the country. But the Magsaysay award winner has been dubbed anti-national and an ‘urban Naxal’, the latest phrase of abuse and insult of the right-wing groups, and has been relentlessly trolled.   

After Saturday’s concert, Krishna said that it was “a day to celebrate democracy’’ and that he is worried about the “anger which is easily bubbling into violence’’ and the hatred that is becoming normal in the country. This should worry not only him but everyone. It was not just an artiste’s freedom that was suppressed in Delhi. It concerns every citizen because the right to dissent and to criticise is basic to democracy. It should be noted that the government had no comment when the AAI, which is controlled by it, cancelled Krishna’s programme. The show still happened but, as Krishna said, freedom, which is the natural way of life, should be asserted every time it is threatened.  

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