While listening to music, how many of us think about what actually goes into making a career in music? What are the struggles, what is the kind of infrastructure does this field need? What needs to be done for instrument makers, and how can the music makers who enable the magic to reach us flourish?
These are questions posed by musician and actor Durga Jasraj, who recently launched the Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation along with Neeraj Jaitley in memory of her late father.
Stressing that the core values of the foundation are the ones she imbibed from her late father Jasraj, Durga, who has been running her company ‘Arts & Artist India Private Limited’ for the past 25 years, says the foundation will help remember not just the late maestro’s contribution to music, but for what he did to the sector in totality.
“He was probably the only person of his generation who promoted the next generation in a manner that they didn’t need to be his disciples or belong to his gharana. Musicians across genres were encouraged by him in every way,” she says.
For someone who also co-founded the Indian Music Academy decades back, she says that at that time she felt that a body for the musicians, of the musicians, and by the musicians would help the music industry.
“But it was a very romantic idea that musicians will help each other. For everybody to flourish and prosper and penetrate deep into the masses, you need the rest of the world to help you out. The Indian Music Academy didn’t have any gate open for any CSR funds. With Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation, ATG exemption has already been received.
“We have people like NK Singh, Chairman, 15th Finance Commission, and President, Institute of Economic Growth; Mukul Mudgal, Former Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court; and bureaucrats like Jayesh Ranjan and Anjani Kumar onboard,” she says.
Durga feels that while there may be several festivals for the young, what is missing in the ecosystem is the presence of good curators — people actually qualified to design a festival.
“It is a completely different skill-set. And I think our company has contributed immensely. When we were on Doordarshan channels with ‘Jalsa’, it was not just about classical music, but Indian traditional music and folk music. You have to take the onus of sticking your neck out — hear the person for two minutes,” she adds.
Lamenting that unlike abroad, heritage and culture are never a priority for major corporates in India when it comes to philanthropy or CSR budgets, she says, “As per the data of last many years, the spend on this area is negligible. Major corporates need to understand their social responsibility and contribute towards arts in the form of scholarships and funding institutions etc. Sponsoring or supporting programmes which are related to training and education can have immense impact.”