Today, at a time when most of the music we hear is like a flash in the pan, hear it now and forget it in seconds, this attempt by All India Radio (AIR) is nothing short of brilliant.
The radio station, which was the mainstay before the various FM stations started crowding air waves, is travelling deep into rural India, trying to document and capture folk music which is dying fast. The AIR staff is going exploring into the uncharted territories of tribal and folk music in conflict zones like Kashmir, the Northeast and Maoist-infested districts.
And mind you, this is not a project funded by the Govt. Their costs on hotel and food are reimbursed on a ‘need basis’ from AIR funds, with the approval of a supportive DG. Most of the executives on this project are manning two-man posts in the remotest parts of the country, equipped with rudimentary hand-held recording devices, and a willingness to trek into villages where roads haven’t been laid yet. No other agency travels like this apart from the Election commission staff.
One can argue that this is not AIR’s job to document the tribal and folk music. But then if they do not, who else will? The private sector channels are too busy making money; for them preserving art and culture would not even strike. For the private sector channels, art and culture begins and ends with Bollywood and other regional film music.
The project is unique because it is not intended or slotted for broadcast. It is pure preservation driven by the fear of losing the heritage.
What fantastic work these AIR people are doing! True patriots and bravehearts!