Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Girish Karnad's speech at DDK Festivals of Ideas

Indian music and dance flourishing, says Karnad - Goa - City - The Times of India
PANAJI (08 Feb 2010) : British colonisers created a vast gulf between Indian cities and villages thereby alienating the traditional artistes of India. But hopefully, modern technology in the form of computers will erase the disparities and create an equality of communication between the two.

This is the fond hope of Jnanpith award winner Girish Karnad who delivered his talk on "Colonialism and Culture" on the inaugural day of the 3rd D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas at the Kala Academy, Panaji, on Monday. Organized by the directorate of art and culture, the festival was inaugurated by chief minister Digambar Kamat.

Karnad is an internationally acclaimed playwright, poet, actor and director, besides being a winner of both the Padma Shri and the Padma Bushan. In his talk embellished with anecdotes, figures and wit, Karnad dealt with how British colonialism shaped Indian culture. He said this could be put in two categories. One was where Indians had its art forms but the British were not interested in these and therefore left them untouched. The second was where they were slightly interested and tried to teach Indians something.

But it is the arts that the British left untouched that are flourishing today. "Our music and dance are greater today then ever before. We are fortunate to be living in an era when Indian music and dance are so full of energy and vitality," said.

Karnad said the British damaged India's arts which they interfered with. Our sculpture was already damaged by the Muslim rulers. But Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker neglected Indian architecture in the building of Delhi, Le Corbusier dealt the final blow to it in Chandigarh, Karnad said.

But there is also a third category of art forms that we got from the West. They brought in a lot of technologies in the form of the printing press due to which, many Indian vernaculars came to life. There was also photography and the recording of music. "When sound came to films, Indian films began to sing," Karnad said.

Then Karnad voiced the apprehensions but proclaimed hope. He said that though India is free today, a new colonialization has taken over in the new shape of globalization. "We are told that our strength is our knowledge of English. The poor also send their children to English medium schools but there is a fear that English may take over. When satellite and cable television came to India, there was the same fear. But nothing happened. You may need English for your job. But for crying, weeping and laughing, you still need your mother tongue. Our language is alive today," Karnad said.

Despite being unsure of what to expect, Karnad hoped that computers would create equalities between urban sophisticates and rural traditional artistes. "That is a change D D Kosambi would approve of," Karnad said.

Speaking earlier, chief minister Kamat said the D D Kosambi festival of ideas was started with the objective of inviting eminent personalities in India to deliver talks. The hope was that they would serve as role models and ignite young minds, Kamat said.

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