Friday, March 19, 2010

'Class Conciousness, Foreign Universities and Achalayatan'

While reading the - 'Interview, Eric Hobsbawm, World Distempers, New Left Review, 61, Jan - Feb 2010', the interlinkages between class conciousness and opening of foreign universities in India rose up in the upper layers of the mind. Eric Hobsbawm mentions in the article how schools, universities in the modern education system can create a class conciousness by creating a wealth divide between the people of the society having an access to the higher level of degrees (like Ph.d) and those who dont get that. Immediately, what I felt that - will with the opening of foreign universities in India (as being planned) the society in India would face a similar kind of class divide and class concious elitism seperated by a wealth divide. Will it happen - that the universities will come with a profit motive and it would allow and lead to an access to higher education for certain students from a particular segment of the society. Will it enhance the large inequity that exists in our country in today's context. While all these thoughts were coming on one side of the brain and going to the other side like a ping pong game, I decided to put a pause in the ping pong going inside my mind.

Immediately thought from the perspective of a fresh ping pong game. The thought process for the new ping pong game was driven by a behavioural agenda. I was thinking how much of this class inequity, conciousness feeling is driven by xenophobia. Or the other way round, how much of the decision of opening universities in India is driven by the feeling of being confident about dealing with pros and cons of globalisation. Is it driven by colonial hangover and politics of the philosophy of colonisation being unculcated through the new system of post modern education.

While thinking about all these, i sensed there is a sense of claustrophobia that germinates whenever i try to think that the interlinkage between class conciousness, opening of new universities could be seen through the lense of politics of the philosophy of modern education system. This is because since adoloscence, when i acted in two plays - 'Achalayatan' and 'Tasher Desh', a thought got deeply ingrained in adoloscent mind that we as a nation should always feel proud and confident to interact, mix and learn from different cultures all across the globe. When it comes to learning for humanity, the stale aspects of cultural conformist bias should not hinder us from learning.

The question in this cross road is whether the opening of new foreign universities would have such a human face and would help us to grow as a nation and society. Or will it be again creating a divide and class conciousness, elitism from profit seeking motives.

As a dreamer (often day dreamer also when i am lost in blank, stoic, lost world during the day) and optimist, I would like to feel that we as a nation would not move towards the brink of a new 'Achalayatan' but would move forward as a nation.

But really speaking time would tell and may be the great philosopher - 'Rabindranath Tagore' would have been able to enlighten us today if he would have been alive.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Vishal Bhardwaj traverses time and space through his compositions in Ishqiya?

Since CD of the film 'Ishqiya' was being brought by my elder brother, I have been listening to two compositions of the film repeatedly. The two compositions are - a) 'Dil to Baacha' and b) 'Ibn Batuta'. The two songs have made me feel that Vishal Bhardwaj has traversed the entire landscape of time and geography through these two compositions. He has aptly created a brand from the time dimension of bollywood music. For instance, if one listens to the composition - 'Dil to Baacha', any body would get a feeling that bollywood music of sixties (with interesting leads of acordian) has come off the age and has arrived in 2010. The excellence of Vishal lies in the fact that he creates a melody from 'Dil to Baacha' that appeals to today's audience whose lifestyles are marked by fast paced life. But the album also doesnot leave any segment of the fast paced audience. That becomes evident when in track 5, ' Dil to Bacha' is remixed and well packaged for a techno centric cosmopolitan audience. The melody of 60s gets packaged in a new form and gets internalised in today's audience. Vishal traverses a long time span through this composition. Even in the packaged form of music he doesnot sacrifice the base melodies and intersparses them with some interesting guitar leads and base drums to capture the trendy audience. In both versions of the composition, the rustic Sufi singer 'Rahat Ali Khan' lends his voice who also excels in travelling the time dimension of bollywood music through Vishal.

In an effort to capture the space, Vishal uses the punch of folklore of 'Ibn Batuta' to capture the grass root audience. He truly traverses the space of India through this composition. Here also a trendy package to the composition is given to capture cosmopolitan audience through the packaged rustic feel of Indian folkmusic. So this composition also doesnot miss any segment of the market. It targets the grassroot as well as the urban segment through the trendy version of the folk music.

In short, Vishal through these two compositions ( 1. 'Dil To Bacha', 2. 'Ibn Batuta') capture the time and space dimension of the market of Bollywood music.

At the end of it he also succeeds well in doing that.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Is fulfillment of personal responsibility a way towards attainment of freedom? - Questions that arose during campus life in JNU

Through out the four semesters of the masters programme, the amazing flamboyance of an unorganised content of JNU campus life raised a fundamental question - "Does freedom mean lack of responsibility?" or "Can fulfillment of personal responsibility be a way towards attainment of freedom?". The wonderful days of hostel life in JNU and an ingrained cosmopolitan nature of the campus allowed everybody to pursue their own lifestyles without any interjection from anybody. Simultaneously there was also presence of strong micro community culture with various state specific representations and cross cultural intersparsed groups through out the campus .

Such micro community cultures if managed and maintained properly can always generate huge amount of social capital. Personally, I benefitted a lot being part of some of such micro communities one of which was based in our hostel room no - Jhelum 2. We in Jhelum 2 always shared our joys, sorrows, pains and often frustrations, anguishes together and the room was a witness to most of these human shades. The generosity of JNU campus life always gave us the freedom to have a relaxed time may be often shrugging some of our responsibilities of studying hard to pay back the loyalty towards tax payers money that is being used to fund our masters training in the premier institution.

Every time I introspected and realised that I have not been able to give the full effort to learn a credit course (often may be by attending too many hostel nights and watching too many Friday PVR night show releases at PVR priya complex), the question that emerged was whether this freedom is the real freedom. Because somewhere in the path of attainment of this freedom there was an opportunity cost of not giving the full effort of fulfilling personal responsibility. The two basic questions that emerged were - a) What is freedom to me in a campus life and what are the boundaries of that freedom? and b) What is the boundary of personal responsibility to me?

To be honest, the answer to the second question (in the first semester of the masters programme) was that as long as I am able to fulfill my personal responsibility in terms of managing my own studying, living expenses and finishing credit courses for getting financial independence in the form of a job, I was fulfilling personal responsibility. So by prioritising and balancing that first I was choosing a definition of freedom for myself. As said earlier, these two definitions of freedom and responsibility was very specific to me in the first two semesters. Gradually I realised, the vision was myopic and responsibility doesnot stop over there and in a campus like JNU which is the mirror of India in someways, responsibility has a social affiliation also. It means taking a little more commitment towards the subject, towards the system of learning a subject and finding out a path of emancipation through this system of learning which gives a huge sense of freedom through gathering knowledge (which doesnot end only in the exam sheets of the mid sem and end sem) by observing things around us in the campus. Once that path could be attained there is a huge sense of happiness that develops inside and one gets a sense of freedom. Knowledge gathering and its application towards social issues in the community domains of a campus life could really be one of the ways of fulfilling personal responsibility paving the way for attainment of freedom and happiness. Such freedom and happiness can generate leaders in the subject of social science and it might not always have to be through the orientation of a political affiliation and institution. The leadership quality can come by being more committed to the process of learning the science of a subject and applying them in day to day life during a masters programme with a positive attitude and sense of transparency, openness and accountability.

I was myopic in my learning process in the first two semesters, but today after almost more than 6 years of out of campus life, I dream strongly of the days when our future generation would come out as visionary leaders of social science by practising attainment of freedom through knowledge gathering and its application in campus life.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Security Sirens and Restlessness

The date was probably sometime in May, 2004. I was coming out of the India Habitat Centre, when for the first time felt a connection between 'Security Siren' and 'Sudden Burst of Hidden Restlessness'. A security convoy passed with the alarming sirens ensuring the safety and security of the delegates of the convoy. If we put aside the security aspect of using sirens, then the fundamental question that arises is how far loud sirens serve the purpose. Are loud sirens required even in a road with no heavy traffic. A heavy traffic loaded road enhances the need for using loud sirens to set aside people and others so that they dont act as a hindrance to the convoy - mobility and also guarantees convoy safety. But what is the logic behind using a loud siren even in an empty, clear road on an afternoon of a Saturday (the day of the month of May, 2004 that I mentioned was probably a Saturday) if we assume that there is no security threat alert. Even if there is a threat alert using the siren is then giving signal to the attackers and raising the chance of attack.

But if we dont consider this dimension, does giving loud siren comes from a patriarchal behaviour of showcasing and exhibiting a hierarchy between the people who have power over the people who are being governed by the agents having power. Ideally, the first set of people should take care of the fact that in any situation the manifestations of the status of a segment of the society (proxied by the indicator - loud siren of convoy people) doesnot be a cause of restlessness for others. Generally a convoy movement in our country always create a sense of urgency, hurry. But there are some exceptions also. May be someday, we could dream of a society where there would be no loud sirens as hierarchial indicators of status quo and all connections between - 'Security Sirens and Restlessness' would be blurred that day.

Waiting for another blurring saturday to arrive!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Does reality show enhance the quality of supply of singers in the country?

Currently TV channels are booming with reality shows of singing, dancing and many more. Every time through a cursory glance, I have seen the reality shows dealing with singing, an array of thoughts have sprang up in mind. To reveal some of those series of thoughts dealing with singing reality shows, i thought to select this blog space as a platform for expression. The singing reality shows are a kind of market space flushed with money which is being spent on certain agents (who are the participant singers) based on whose output the business return from the production process is being determined. So every reality show is a kind of production process of an entity (owning the process) where there are financial capital, physical capital and labour inputs that finally produces an output which is the musical product (could be a series of songs, or a song). The quality of the product determines the return from the production process. So better the quality of the output, the larger the TRP rating and more is the business for the people who are investing money in this production process. The entire running operation of a singing reality show could be just viewed as an operation business of an entity that owns the process. There is a demand side catering to the output that comes out of the production process. The demand side is being determined by the people of the country who watches the reality show and raises the TRP rating of the show. Also money could be pumped in to create a brand of a reality show so that people are forced to watch a show. So demand side of a market could be created to run the production process of music reality show in a sustained way.

But does this production process generate better quality inputs (here better musicians, singer for the country) for the country as an outcome. Not necessarily, as high value reality show doesnot mean that it would necessarily improve the quality of the participants. The skills of the participants are often being groomed, developed by the mentors in these reality shows. Often the pressure of running the show (once in a week or some other hectic schedules in terms of show timings) might not give a mentor the time to develop the skill of a participant. Or it might help in building the skill of a participant in a particular genre. Skill development of a participant from a music reality show is very much participant and mentor specific and also depends on the interactive process between them. Ideally skill development of a participant should happen before they join the reality show. Many times, given the background of the participants it doesnot happen. But in the short term the participant could be used as a quality labour input in the production of an output that generates business in the short term. Reality shows therefore at the baseline can have a myopic vision of developing skills for the short term which might not be beneficial for the quality aspects of a singer in the longer term. In the long term therefore these shows might not build up quality singers if the primary focus of a reality show is not to build up long term singing skills and is more towards introducing them to the huge market of reality show singers in India. Even in that introduction mechanism, there is a product differentiation angle that should be kept in mind. This would become more clearer with one illustrative example.

Sometime back in NDTV imagine channel, a show called 'Dhoom Macha De' used to come in which there were three group of teams representating three genres of singing skills of music - Folk, Filmi and Sufi music. 'Sufi Ke Sultan’ team was led by Ustad Rahet Fateh Ali Khan. The team of Folk singers, ‘Maati Ke Lal’ was headed by Ila Arun and the group of Filmi music ‘Bollywood Ke Baadshah’ was led by music director Anand Raj Anand. To me, this show was a production process that was creating different products and assessing what kind of product is being demanded by the market. For assessing that voting lines were opened by which people were asked to vote for particular genre of music, singers.

In some ways using technology, this production process was creating product differentiation and was introducing different genres of output from the production process in the market. The objective of that introduction had a short term business vision. I might be wrong in that assessment, but there is a need to find out how far this process of product differentiated singer introduction in the market of reality show singers is leading to a long term skill building of singers and contributing in the overall cumulative skill building of these singers of reality show market.

Waiting to get some answers in these lines. May be some research on this would open up new answers in these lines of thoughts in future.