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Ustad has reasons to be proud

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has been conferred the Commandeur dans l?Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
PTI | By Vinita Faridi
UPDATED ON OCT 31, 2003 02:13 PM IST

Awards and recognition are all in a day’s work for sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Yet the conferring of the Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government, in recognition of his contribution to cultural diversity in both France and India, holds special significance for him for various reasons. Earlier recipients include Satyajit Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shivaji Ganesan.

“It is a great honour for me and my country. I am also very happy not only because it is the highest civilian award conferred by the French government,” says Khan saheb, who was presented with the award, alongwith fellow recipients, Odissi exponent Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and veteran artist Ram Kumar, “but also because it has been given by a country with which I have a long association dating back 30 years. I have had the opportunity to perform at all the major venues in France.”

This has given him a first-hand experience of the respect that is given to the arts and artists there. “The kind of freedom given to artists in France is something I have not seen anywhere else. It is the perfect place for any artist to be in, and I have always had a tremendous response whenever I have performed there.”

That sarod is finally being given the international recognition it deserves is another reason to rejoice for Khan saheb. “Sarod is still being discovered by the western world despite our best efforts, and sitar is still more popular abroad. But due recognition has finally come to an instrument which is among the best that we have to offer,” he says. Even otherwise, feels Khan saheb, internationally it is a very good phase for music, because it has the capacity to connect people globally. “I can say with utter conviction that musically it is indeed Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam (the entire earth is one big family).”

Amen to that.

Other Major Awards
2001: Padma Vibhushan
1997: Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum, Geneva
1996: National Ambassadorship of UNICEF 
1995: Gandhi Medal, UNESCO 
1994: Jawahar Lal Nehru Excellence Award
1992: Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award 
1991: Padma Bhushan  
1989: Tansen Award 
1986: Shiromani Award
1975: Padma Shree
1970: International Music Forum Award, UNESCO

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