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West wind leaves heritage in a shambles

For nearly three decades, ever since its inception in 1977, the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (Spic Macay) has been striving hard to sensitise the younger generation towards Indian heritage and culture.

Pinning its focus on performing arts, including classical and folk music and dance, Spic Macay has targeted educational institutes in an effort to insinuate the virtues of Indian culture through the curriculum. Of late, the organisation has diversified its activities. Besides, organising cultural programmes, Spic Macay now conducts yoga camps, talks and workshops on handicrafts.

A voluntary, non-profit, apolitical, and participatory students 'movement' (as volunteers call it), the Spic Macay force comprises youths from across the board, who contribute to the cause of popularising Indian culture.

The organisation also promotes 'nishkam karma' (voluntary work), to promote commitment to work without lofty expectations of rich dividends. Spic Macay has organised more than 1,500 concerts in about 175 chapters in India and about 50 more abroad.

In a conversation with Navtan Kumar, Binay Sarawgi, the chairperson of Spic Macay's state chapter, speaks about his future plans of spreading wings in the state and various other aspects of the organisation.

What do you have to say about the cultural atmosphere in Jharkhand' Are the residents aware of the cultural heritage'

Western culture has greatly seeped in the country and has affected the younger generation. There is a greater awareness about Western culture among the young generation but very few have any clue about the rich Indian culture that is reflected through traditional Indian music and dance. This is a national phenomenon and Jharkhand is no exception. As far as cultural atmosphere is concerned, Jharkhand is way behind other states. There is no Sangeet Natak Akademi, no auditorium and no proper training and rehearsal facilities for the artistes. There are hardly any festivals of classical music or dance.

Spic Macay is active all over the country. How has been the growth of the organisation in Jharkhand'

The Jharkhand chapter came into existence in 2001 soon after bifurcation of Bihar. Spic Macay was quite active right from the Bihar days. At present, in Jharkhand, we have chapters in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Dhanbad and Giridih. All the major educational institutes like BIT, Mesra, XLRI, Jamshedpur, ISM, Dhanbad, RIMS, Ranchi, DPS, Bokaro and Ranchi and many others have subchapters, which organise cultural programmes on a regular basis. This year we plan to open chapters in Hazaribagh, Daltonganj, Dumka and Deoghar. Since 2001, Jharkhand has organised about 200 concerts in different educational institutes involving a galaxy of artistes like Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Teejan Bai, Shahid Parvez, Fariduddin Dagar (of Dagar brothers), Asad Ali Khan, Madhavi Mudgal, Singhjit Singh, Malabika Mitra, Uma Sharma and many more.

What has been the impact of Spic Macay's presence in Jharkhand'

It is because of Spic Macay that most youths today realise the existence of Indian heritage. The youths have begun to have a new-found respect for Indian culture and whenever there are Spic Macay concerts they come out in large numbers. In a sense, this is not a mean achievement. But this is just the tip of the iceberg and we still have miles to go.

What are the future plans for Spic Macay in the state'

We are planning to organise a fortnight long festival called Virasat featuring performances of classical and folk music and dance, yoga camps, workshops on crafts, screening classic films etc from November 1 to 14 this year. Recently we conducted the 'morning raga concerts' at the Rock Gardens in Ranchi, the first of its kind in Jharkhand, in which we organised classical music performances in collaboration with the culture department. The idea was to give the music lovers an opportunity to enjoy classical music in the lap of nature. We plan to hold more such programmes in other places also.

How do you manage to muster resources for organising programmes'

We generate resources through sponsorship, donation, advertisements etc. We also get support in kind from different agencies and individuals. A part of the fund is provided by our national body, which gets financial assistance from different ministries and corporate and public sectors. In Jharkhand also, we get support from corporate and public sectors besides support in kind from different agencies and individuals.

How has been the response from the government'

Recently we collaborated with the state culture department for organising the morning raga concerts and their response was quite encouraging. We are also planning to approach the human resource development department for organising programmes in different schools of the state.

Spic Macay seems to be focussing only on convent schools and that too in urban pockets. Do you have any plans to organise the activities in government schools in rural areas as well'

To some extent this is true but this is because the convent schools have a better infrastructure for holding programmes of artistes of national and international repute. However, despite all odds, we would like to have our activities in government schools also. We have also decided to reach out to rural areas for which we are strengthening and expanding our network.

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