In its 12th planning period starting April 2012, the union ministry of culture is likely to approve a host of schemes to promote Indian classical music, including formal support to the guru-shishya tradition, introduction of an artistes' welfare fund and a television channel dedicated to traditional Indian arts.
A star-studded panel of musicians from the non-profit All India Musicians' Group (AIMG), including Zakir Husain, Shivkumar Sharma, TN Krishnan and Arvind Parikh, announced their optimism about the government implementing these schemes at a press conference at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on Tuesday. The AIMG had a meeting with Prime Minister and union cultural minister Manmohan Singh on December 8 last year.
"Since then, we have received assurances that the AIMG's recommendations will be formally approved and implemented in the next planning period," said Ashok Vajpeyi, chairman of the Lalit Kala Academy, who was present at the conference.
A key recommendation put forth by the AIMG was giving government support to the guru-shishya tradition in which students learn music from individual teachers, as opposed to institutions. Once approved, the scheme will provide stipends to at least 100 gurus, who will then choose up to five students to be trained for several years. "Students will also receive stipends and their progress will be formally monitored by gurus, who need not belong to a formal music institution," said tabla maestro Zakir Husain.
The AIMG has also proposed the setting up of a National Welfare Fund that artistes can turn to for medical and other financial aid in their old age. Once in place, individuals and private companies will also be able to contribute to the fund. "The government has assured us that the monthly pension of Rs 4,000 that old artistes currently receive will be increased," said Vajpeyi.
The musicians have asked the ministry of culture to launch a television channel dedicated to Indian classical and folk music, dance, arts and crafts. "There are at least 50 cultural organisations within the purview of the government which have rich archives that can be used as quality content for such a channel," said Vajpeyi. The government, claims AIMG, is already putting together a production unit for this music channel.