PUCL Bulletin, June 2004

TN and Pondicherry PUCL

Music and art for communal harmony and peace

-- By Sudha Ramalingam, V. Suresh, 24 April, Chennai

That was the day fixed for bringing together people who were working in the fields of culture such artists, theatre groups, folk arts, actors actresses in commercial cinema as well, poets, singers – South Indian classical, modern Western music, and orchestras both classical and modern. It was a very successful effort of the State Unit of PUCL. The evening was dedicated to Tarkunde. Unhad, the organization formed by many of us to fight communalism and whose leading members are Harsh Mandir and Shabnam Hashmi.

Kamala Haasan, Rohini Naser, Amla participated and their performances were preceded by declaration in favour of maintaining a secular polity, free from communal violence. Rohini’s was the first speech expressing solidarity with secularism and communal peace. She set the pattern. Ms. Sudha Ranganathan, Ms. Ranjani Gayathri, Sri Sirgashi Siva Chidambaram, T.M. Krishna Ganesh kumaresh, rendered south Indian classical but only after declaring their commitment to secular values. Followed by folk performances and contemporary bands. Artist came to the venue in the morning and completed their painting by the evening expressing their commitment to secular values and against communal politics and violence. The Artists in the evening gave these paintings away to PUCL activists and Action Aid activists who worked to make the evening’s event a success. There were theatre groups who enacted plays on communal violence essaying the consequences of politics of communalism. Usha Uthoop flew down from Calcutta to give her inspiring performance for the cause of freedom and communal amity.

The Venue of Music and Art for Communal Harmony and Peace was dedicated to Tarkunde and the entire evenings festival was centered round Tagore’s famous poem in the Gitanjali which won him the Nobel Medal while the Nation was busy trying to locate the stolen medal. While the poor Gurudev was almost forgotten until the Nobel Medal was stolen, PUCL revived his memory by setting to music (both in English and Tamil) the Poem “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” The poem was set to music by the well known director and composer V.S. Narasimhan in Tamil and Music Director Paul Jacob in English. The poem was translated into Tamil by Venkatesh Chakravarthy and the Tamil lyric by Parnaman. The Tamil lyric set to music was sung by Sri S.P. Balasubramaniam the famous play back singer of the South - I mean all the Southern states. He was not in a position to attend the event as he had to leave for London. All these persons are front rankers in their respective fields and all of them gave the PUCL and Unhad event of the 24th. Their know-how, expertise, knowledge and their proficiency in their respective fields for the cause of communal peace and harmony. They were unsparing in their efforts to make the event a grand success.

Towards the end of the programme the CDs were released – the Tamil Version by the President of PUCL Sri K.G. Kannabiran (the Tamil version) and Sri Harsh Mandir of Unhad (the English version).

The event was widely broadcast by giant hoardings at quite a few important places and prominently put out as advertisements by all the leading papers. A gathering of about ten thousand was present to witness and participate in the event. Up to around 9 to 10 PM the crowd started thinning thereafter. Towards the organizers administered a pledge to the audience (Four thousand) which ended: We pledge to firmly oppose all disruptive communal forces and to build a secure and secular nation. It was not reported well and national press thought it was local news. It avoided dreary and long speeches by politicians who have lost all credibility over all these years of political life. In fact there were no speeches.

The only speeches made were by the President of PUCL and Unhad for just two minutes. The instruments of information seem to have lost their “way in the dreary desert sand of dead habit”; the event has no news value.


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