When PM Modiji called me Bharat ki Lakshmi, I was thrilled: Anuradha Pal
She has always been an advocate for women’s empowerment. In fact, in 1996, catalysed by her own struggles, popular tabla player Anuradha Pal created Stree Shakti, “world’s first all-female Indian classical band to provide a platform for talented women artistes to grow unfettered in a patriarchal world”. Recently, Pal was appointed as the Brand Ambassador of the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana and appreciated as ‘Bharat ki Lakshmi’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Lakshmi ji is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and women are often referred to as Lakshmi of their home. When the PM Modiji called me Bharat ki Lakshmi, I was thrilled to be acknowledged for my contribution as a cultural ambassador, working towards the propagation and preservation of our great music and culture. This has given me fresh impetus to focus on the beautiful folk, tribal and classical musicians who need support,” says the multi-percussionist.
While tabla playing is predominantly helmed by men, Pal is believed to be among the world’s first female tabla players. Ask her if she ever faced gender discrimination, and she says, “While I do acknowledge that gender biases and discrimination exist, I have never let that be an excuse or a hindrance to my aspirations. On the contrary, this drives me to work harder, always give my best and remain humble and committed to achieving my dreams.”
Pal also believes in giving back to society. Saddened to see the plight of the poor and marginalised folk, tribal and classical musicians, instrument makers and dancers when the pandemic and subsequent lockdown hit last year, she organised a fundraiser called Kala Ke Sangh Music festival. “It featured performances by 27 leading musicians to sensitise people and raise funds for the music fraternity in August 2020. Over the past year, we managed to send financial help, directly to bank accounts of 350 beneficiaries from underprivileged communities like Meghwal, Bhil, Manganiar, Lakha, Jogi, Garo, Kathodi, Koch-Rajbongshi, Dhadi tribals, Charkula, Ponung, Matka Bhawai, Terahtali, Kalbeliya dancers, Manta drummers, Kathputli artistes, Knife jugglers and Bahurupiyas spread across 17 states in India. Additionally, we distributed food ration and blankets to 250 widowed, old and disabled women and children in villages across India,” says Pal.