Specially-curated cultural and artistic events, including a concert headlined by Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and a photo exhibition by celebrated photographer Steve McCurry will commemorate India’s 75th independence Day celebrations here, showcasing to the Americans and the diaspora the nation’s “progress as a vibrant democracy.” The Consulate General of India in New York along with the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) is organising the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav – Festival of Freedom’.
The two-week long specially-curated events at some of the most iconic cultural venues in New York City feature photography, dance, music and India’s classical culture in the run-up to 75 years of India’s independence on August 15 this year. The Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Jaiswal, said as India marks 75 years of independence, “it will truly be a historic day in our nation’s onward march.” He added that the ‘Festival of India@75′ will celebrate India’s landmark year in the city of New York and is featuring the finest exponents of Indian performing arts.
“It is only fitting that the best of Indian thought and culture is brought to New York – the cultural capital of America,” he noted.The celebration aims to bring the “best of Indian thought and culture to our friends in America and through them showcase the progress of our nation as a vibrant democracy,” the Indian Consulate said in a statement issued on Monday.
IAAC Chairman Dr. Nirmal Mattoo said the organisation is proud and honoured to mark the occasion of 75 years of Indian Independence with the remarkable series of events celebrating Indian art and culture.“Curated with care, this line-up boosts an ambitious goal: to truly immerse audiences into a vibrant and diverse culture with limitless potential to inspire all citizens of the world,” he said in a statement issued by the IAAC. The grand finale of the ‘Festival of India@75′ on August 15 will feature Khan along with Sarod virtuosos Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash and tabla players Amit Kavthekar and Ojas Adhiya for a ‘Samaagam’, an ensemble that will present the essence of both Indian and Western traditions seamlessly flowing into each other without artistic compromise.
In ‘Samaagam’, 12 different ragas are presented, creating a unique opportunity to experience joyous music and shared traditions.The concert, featuring renowned Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya and the Refugee Orchestra, will be held at the Carnegie Hall and would “present a synthesis of musical traditions motivated by Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of truth, non-violence and peace.” The festival began on August 5 with a photo exhibition at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery here by McCurry, who has captured India in all its beauty and mystique for over four decades.
McCurry, among whose most famous work is the portrait of the ‘Afghan Girl’, has visited India over 80 times, but in his own words, he has “barely managed to scratch the surface”.On August 6 and 7, breathtaking performances in Indian dances enthralled audiences at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre as talented exponents of various Indian dance forms such as Sanjib Bhattacharya and Jagannath Lairenjam (Sapta, Manipuri-Pung Cholom), Kavya Ganesh (Contemporary Bharatanatyam), Bhavana Reddy (Solo Kuchipudi), Jin Won (Kathak) and Mythili Prakash (Contemporary Bharatanatyam) brought together the richness of Indian dance forms to the audience in New York.
On August 8, the Erasing Borders Dance Festival, a virtual programme of Indian classical as well as contemporary dances was broadcast online. A two-night jazz music event headlined by Sachal Vasandani and Friends featuring Grammy-nominated singer Priya Darshini performing music from a spellbinding collection of arts from East and West will be held on August 11 and 12.
IAAC said Vasandani honours Nat King Cole’s centennial in 2019, while borrowing from his Indian heritage along with Darshini, a captivating singer whose work takes cues from her Indian Classical music roots.Joined by a stellar cast that includes bassist Harish Raghavan (Charles Lloyd), Grammy-nominated pianist Orrin Evans, saxophonist Dayna Stephens and drummer Kush Abadey, the special event will also feature jazz singer Vanisha Gould. Renowned vocalist Kaushiki Chakraborty, the star from Patiala Gharana, and her all-female Sakhi ensemble will present a concert at Carnegie Hall on August 13.
“The Sakhi ensemble is an exemplary group of talented Indian artists that brings together voice, instruments, percussion, and dance representing the Indian woman of the 21st century, who is modern yet rooted,” the Consulate said.The penultimate night of the celebration will belong to ‘Saath Saath’ on August 14, an ensemble featuring flute maestro Rakesh Chaurasia, Sitar maestro Purbayan Chatterjee, master percussionist Taufiq Qureshi and Tabla player Ojas Adhiya.
The Consulate said that the ‘Saath-Saath’ ensemble brings the “spontaneity and improvisation within the discipline of Indian classical music that only they can produce.” The fortnight-long festival is part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations that began on March 12, 2021 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off a march from Sabarmati to Dandi in remembrance of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March on the same day in 1930.Since then, the Consulate General of India has organised over 200 events under the aegis of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav within its jurisdiction with the valuable support and participation the vibrant diaspora community.
Showcasing the role and importance of railways in the freedom struggle, Indian Railways will organise cultural shows, programmes, photo exhibitions and several other events at various stations across the country.
As many as 75 stations have been identified for the week-long programme, which is also a part of the 75th year of Independence celebrations.
According to an official release, “Nukkad Natak” (street plays), movie shows, photo exhibitions, and light and sound shows among other events, will be organised at the stations and on the last day, family members of freedom fighters will share freedom stories.
Also, under the programme, a total of 27 trains will be flagged off by the freedom fighter’s families from the originating stations. These trains will be decorated and also display information about their role in the freedom movement.
“We aim to spread values and glories of freedom struggle among the youth, who will be India’s future,” the chairman and CEO of Railway Board, Vinay Kumar Tripathi said on Monday at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi while inaugurating the event named ‘Azadi Ki Rail Gadi aur Stations’.
Several programmes, shows and events have been organised by various governments, organisation, bodies and others, throughout the year, to celebrate the diamond jubilee of India’s Independence.
The ICChas gone to market with its media rights for the next eight-year cycle, and it has done so in a completely different fashion than before. The ICC will go to market in India alone beginning next week, selling rights for men’s and women’s events individually, as well as digital rights. This reflects the shifting media landscape.
The ICC’s choice to go to India first reflects a determination to get the best business contract possible. The ICC has previously sold worldwide rights to both men’s and women’s tournaments on a consolidated basis. No longer: the ICC intends to sell rights for various areas in the future, in the hopes of attracting more bids and therefore increasing the deal’s overall worth.
Invitation To Tender For All Events In The India Market Due On 22 August
On June 20, the ICC will issue an Invitation To Tender (ITT) for all of the events in the Indian market, and sealed bids will be due on August 22. By early September 2022, the ICC will notify the selected bidders before issuing the ITTs for further markets.
Before announcing its proposal for the world tournaments, the ICC waited for the BCCI to finish its media rights e-auction for the IPL, which brought in deals worth more than $US 6 billion. Before finalising its own strategy, the ICC engaged the BCCI to evaluate the approach utilised for the IPL rights auction.
The ICC, unlike the BCCI, will continue to employ the sealed-bids procedure “to inspire potential bidders to make their highest bid for the events and package they want,” according to a media statement.
Six Different Bundles To Be Available In India
In India, up to six different bundles will be available, including TV-only, digital-only, and a mix of the two.
Bidders can compete in 16 men’s events (spanning eight years) and six women’s events (spanning four years), totaling 362 and 103 matches, respectively. Only senior-level matches are included in these data; the men’s and women’s Under-19 World Cups (one-day and T20) will also be included, although they will be in addition to these match figures.
Four Under-19 World Cups, four T20 World Cups, two Champions Trophies, four World Test Championship finals, and two 50-over World Cups are among the 16 men’s competitions. Two T20 World Cups, two Under-19 T20 World Cups, one 50-over World Cup, and one T20 Champions Trophy will be among the six women’s competitions.
The ICC media release said, that “interested parties will be required to submit a bid for the first four years of men’s events. However, they also have the option of bidding for an eight-year partnership.”
If any of the packages is only sold for four years, the ICC will open a new opportunity to sell the rights for the next four years.
For the men’s events (including the Under-19 events), three packages will be available:
TV (four/eight years)
Digital (four/eight years)
TV and digital combined (four/eight years)
Similar packages will be available for women’s events (including Under-19 events), with the exception that each will last four years:
TV (four years)
Digital (four years)
TV and digital combined (four years)
“There has been significant growth in interest in women’s cricket over the last five years and we have made a long-term strategic commitment to accelerate that growth, and unbundling the rights for our women’s events will play a huge role in that,” ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said as per the release.
“We are looking for a broadcast partner who is excited by the role they will play in growing the women’s game and ensuring more fans than ever before can enjoy it.”
Highest Bid May Not Fetch Women’s Rights
Bidders will have the option of exhibiting “their vision for cricket to the ICC, particularly for the Women’s Package” when they include their final bids in a sealed envelope in August, as part of the ICC’s continued drive to broaden the reach of women’s cricket internationally.
Instead of using money as the sole criterion for the next cycle, the ICC is inviting bidders to discuss how they will use their platform to promote the women’s game, which might add more value and purpose to the contract overall. For the women’s events, the ICC has left the option of not granting the rights to the highest bidder open.
Previously, women’s global tournament rights were sold as an add-on to men’s events, which the ICC believed devalued the women’s game.
The latest consolidated ICC rights contract had gone to Star India (2015-2023). The ICC has not announced the deal’s worth, but ESPNcricinfo understands it to be around US$ 1.9 billion.
Arijit Barman: Were you shocked when the rate hike came, as we were not expecting it?
Dinesh Kumar Khara: It was not a shock but a surprise. Because, it came just a few days after the policy was announced. I would say it is a very timely action taken by RBI considering the kind of inflation numbers seen and the kind of trajectory visible at that point in view of the global scenario. Perhaps, it is a decision taken at the right time. The liquidity surplus in the economy was almost as high as about 5.7 trillion, so this 40 bps is also going to suck about 87,000 crore worth of liquidity from the system. Nevertheless, I would say that I believe that the RBI will be very closely watching the inflation bit and will be calibrating the interest rates going forward.
AB: But the worry is just when we saw credit growth in the banking sector reaching double digits after a long time. 11.2% growth year on year, that’s when the news happened. Will it dampen the spirits?
Khara: I agree that the economy has started witnessing a strong growth path. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the global macro developments, and one has to ensure that there should be adequate order in the economy. From that point of view, the regulator kept these thoughts in their mind, and they have acted as well.
AB: A 50 bps hike in CRR will be sucking Rs 87,000 odd crore from the banking system. That is where we believe many industrialists seem to be a little bit more apprehensive?
Zarin Daruwala: As Mr Khara said, there is quite a high surplus in the banking system, and frankly, banks are keen to lend. It is the credit growth which has been muted. We have seen corporates really in the de-levering mode in the last two years. The debt to equity of the top corporates, if we look at some of the listed companies, has come down to as low as 0.6 debt to equity ratio. So to that extent, with banks having lower net NPAs, closer to 2%, and with surplus liquidity and corporate balance sheets resilient and very strong, I think to my mind, as bankers would be quite keen to lend. Clearly, household indebtedness as a percentage of GDP in India is quite low compared to maybe the UK or US, it is just around 30%. So, to that extent, even the individual ability to borrow is quite high in India. There is still some scope. As banks, clearly, we would be quite keen to lend.
AB: While Mr Khara talked about about tackling inflation, Mr Mehta, I was reading an interview where you said in the 30 years that you worked at Unilever, you have never seen such a situation, of several wars, volatile crude prices, but that is quite a statement?
Sanjiv Mehta: Yes, absolutely, when the crude (prices) went up in the early part of this millennium, it was crude-dominated, leading to inflation. But right now, we are looking at many other commodities, including palm (oil). When you reach a situation where a common man reduces the consumption of soap or detergent powder, it becomes a cause for concern. So the question you raised to Mr Khara about the interest rate was inevitable. We must understand that as a government, as a (RBI) governor, you have a task to also look after a large majority of your population. Inflation always bites the poor much harder. So there was a very clear indicator that steps would have to be taken to rein in the inflation. I do not believe this is structural demand-led inflation and this has got a lot to do with the constraints which came in during the COVID period and the supply chain constraints. For instance, palm has become a big issue in our country as well. That happened primarily because at the time of harvest, and they want enough labour to pluck the crop; that’s what happened in India in 2020 during the tea season. So this is not a structural demand-led. Geopolitical issues have also aggravated the situation. In another six months, if the Ukraine crisis settles down, we could start seeing the tapering of inflation. But right now, yes, it is a cause for concern.
AB: Stagflation is it too extreme, or are we staring at such a scenario?
Mehta: We are still not in that state at a macro level. I was concerned about the headlines that were carried (because) we should not let the country get entrapped in that. We have to be very cognizant of that. If we look at it, we just about recovered last year what we lost in the first year of the pandemic, and we were still in the process of recovery so it will be a very fine balancing act. The governor will have to ensure that you balance it in a manner that you do not stifle growth but at the same time try to rein in the inflation as much as possible.
AB: Does it dampen the mood of your capex plans, or do you want to go all guns blazing?
Ajay Piramal: At the present moment, I do not see capex dampened because I do feel that there is demand and if you look at the future with the geopolitical situation I feel that India is well-positioned. In capex you go through these cycles, there would be some rise in interest rates today but I do not think today is the time when any people whom I talk to is reducing capex plans as of now.
AB: But those big bang plans, have they been moderated into more moderate to mid-levels expansions more brownfield than large greenfield projects?
Piramal: What I see is that people are looking at various sensitivities and scenarios but I am not seeing that there is going to be a huge cut-down. At the most one would watch for a few more months to see how things are but overall at least in my view it is still optimistic. Yes these are challenges, the whole world is facing them but I think I still feel that we are on the good wicket and India in terms of demand there is demand for India’s products in India and outside.
AB: Mr Jindal you have very ambitious plans for not just steel but also for green energy space. On the one hand, input prices are going up, but you are enjoying a commodity supercycle on the steel front, so how does that calibrate for your capex plans for renewable and steel segments?
Sajjan Jindal: So let me first answer your earlier question with the panel about this 40-50 bps which RBI has increased and Mr Khara said he was surprised, which is a fact, but you know when the whole world is going through this big change and the commodity prices are going up, inflation is high, even in the US when one has never heard that the US can go through inflation of this level and India is also following that same trend and as Sanjiv (Mehta) mentioned that the poor man gets maximum affected on inflation. So, I think it is the primary responsibility of RBI to see that inflation does not go up. In fact, I was surprised on the contrary that it has not increased enough, though it affects me as a borrower but still we have not had such a long run of such benign interest rates. I have not seen in my business career. Therefore, I would say it is okay we need to control inflation so that is one part.
Secondly, about renewable, I think the way India is going to depend on energy or the world is going to depend on the energy, it cannot be coal-based given the pressure on global warming and our sustainability. We have to move towards renewable or towards clean energy which is green, which is not emitting carbon dioxide so the only way is you opt for nuclear (energy) or solar, wind and Hydro.
AB: Nuclear is a political hot potato …
Jindal: Yes, I mean it is a hot potato for sure nobody wants it in their backyard that is also clear but India is a very large country and we do need nuclear because you need base-load Power Plants. Nuclear is the only way forward today. In Sweden, Denmark and Finland they are building nuclear power plants so those countries, if they can build why cannot we, as a developing country, do that. But still, we need to build these renewable power plants but given today’s high cost of steel and high cost of commodities that has also become a challenge because now that cost has gone up dramatically and people have put their projects on hold so we have to watch how these commodities come back down.
AB: There has been a constant grouse when it comes to Indian promoters and financing. They say that raising money for LBOs (Leveraged Buyouts) in India is extremely difficult. Indian banks cannot lend against shares. You have to rely on foreign banks. How big a handicap is that for both you (Jindal ) and Piramal, have done large acquisitions?
Jindal: I think that is clearly a big handicap for the Indian corporates because I mean Zarin (Daruwala) is here representing the foreign bank and Mr Khara (Dinesh Kumar Khara) is representing an Indian bank I cannot go to Mr Khara to support me in lending because Indian banks cannot lend against shares Indian banks are not permitted to lend. They can lend if I want to buy the asset but if I want to buy the shares they cannot lend. But Zarin can. She has the flexibility or Ajay can. They have the flexibility as NBFC (non-banking financial company) but why not the Indian banking system. So this is something which we need to discuss and we need to change the perspective of the RBI that why not Indian banks should allow acquisition financing or share financing, share acquisition financing.
AB: Mr Piramal, you want to weigh on this?
Piramal: I agree with Sajjan. If you look at it the Indian banks are really the largest contributors in the economy. They cannot lend. Foreign banks with the exception of one or two like Zarin’s have actually exited the country. So where do you get finance? And promoters in India are now depending on funds and these are foreign funds, the IRR (Internal Rate of Return) of a foreign fund is anywhere between 20% to 25%. So it makes us uncompetitive in the global environment. Today, these large acquisitions are very difficult to fund, otherwise, you will have some private equity coming in, getting it at a low price, so we are actually sapping the Indian economy. Probably these restrictions were put where banks could not lend to for acquisition. At that time, people thought that there would be speculative buying but today it is a very competitive, transparent process and we should definitely allow lending to happen. NBFCs (funds) are limited, they do not have enough of capital to fund large acquisitions like the cement acquisition Sajjan is talking about.
Jindal: What is sad is that we are letting go of our marquee assets in India to foreigners because we cannot get it financed. I mean Indian corporates cannot finance such big deals of five billion, 10 billion (dollars) and foreign companies can, as Ajay said, private equity comes and buys road assets and other assets which give them very high returns.
AB: Is that something that Indian banks should also look at?
Khara: We may not be permitted to fund buying of shares but line of credit is something which we have done in the past when the Indian assets were acquired that is something which we have already made available and I think that came handy at the material point of time.
AB: But private equity today is becoming more and more mainstream. They have raised a lot of money around the world, lot of it is getting deployed in India, how do you see them – are they permanent capital or do you have a different point of view because a number of your subsidiaries have had private equity partners as well?
Khara: See the only issue with private equity is that they come with some kind of definite time horizon. So the certainty of the equity which we normally see and for that matter any stakeholder would like to see the stability of the equity is at risk in certain situations. And if at all they are offloaded in a chunk will lead to the market disturbance as far as the listed equities are concerned. But yes, of course, I would rather say that this is one of the requirements because if at all economies have to grow then they have to also look at private equity as an option. It may not be the only source but it is still an option.
AB: We were having this discussion and you said you somehow feel MNCs are more bullish on India than Indian peers. I will come to Mr Mehta about that as well but is that something that you really feel …?
Daruwala: I said MNCs are bullish, not more bullish than Indian corporates. We are witnessing a lot of interest. Now I think the PLI scheme has evoked a lot of interest especially given the China plus one strategy. We are already seeing the kind of interest that has come in the 12 sectors that the government has invited. See the power of some of the FDI. If we were to look at Vietnam and Samsung, Samsung invested in Vietnam. Today Samsung is 25% of Vietnam’s GDP, of course, it is a small country but that is the power of the investment that you see and Samsung exports $66 billion annually from Vietnam and 50% of their global phones and laptops are made in Vietnam so that is the power of some of the global MNCs. We need to supplement local capital with global capital coming to India. And the interesting thing that one is seeing is the global capability centres. Today we have 1400 plus global capability centres, Accenture alone has 2,50,000 employees, our bank has 27,000 employees just working in the global capability centre and that is really giving a lot of employment, having a very good second-order impact. 45% of the companies have outside their home market have India global capability centres so that is quite telling that outside the home market India seems to be the number two choice for global capability centres.
AB: We were talking about sources of capital that is available for industries, big and small, especially the smaller industries, the SMEs. In volatile times we have seen the NBFCs playing a big role, lending hand to smaller companies who do not enjoy the AAA rating. Mr Deepak Parekh recently said that the arbitrage that the shadow banks had earlier vis-à-vis banks is going so perhaps it is now time to revisit that argument that big NBFCs should get converted and maybe even corporates get a look in to banks?
Piramal: I think we will have to really look at how we want to do banking in the future We talked about today’s credit growth is about 9% over the last few years. We are all convinced that India needs to grow at least 8% GDP which is in real term so if you look at credit growth must be about 18%. If we do not do that we will not be able to reach our targets of 5 trillion of an economy. Banks in India have just probably 30 or 40 large banks compared to the US which has almost 4000 banks so we need to have more banking. We are supposed to have banked on tap and that was announced in 2016, there has not been a single banking licence which has been given on tap since then. We will have to relook at it and after a certain size, I do not see NBFCs growing bigger because you need a permanent source of funding available. Today we have to open and deepen the debt markets. We will have to allow public deposits and put restrictions. I think when Mr Parekh talked about the arbitrage it was the regulations that were coming in for NBFCs and banks, which is good. Let us also get the advantages of banking for some of the NBFCs.
AB: But the permanent worry is that money is fungible. How do you monitor intergroup transfer which is a perennial worry?
Piramal: I agree. So let there be more transparency, and let there be more regulation. But that does not mean we do not have banking for large groups, because in India you do need promoters to be behind banks because as you know cash is the only raw material for banks so who will provide that? It is possible, when you have a stable promoter base.
AB: I want return to the topic of inflation. On one hand, it is leading to weak demand conditions but you also said in an interview that you are winning market share across channels, categories both urban and rural. How is that possible?
Mehta: There is nothing conflicting about it. When we talk about demand in aggregate we talk about the demand of the market and when we talk about the market share we talk about sharing the pie. Invariably what happens when times are tough the consumers do gravitate towards large trusted brands and we have a lot of brands saliency, lot of powerful brands. What we do ensure that the product superiority does not go away and even when it comes to share of voice we ensure that the share of voice remains above the share of the market. So the saliency is there, the product superiority is there, the trusted brands are there and that leads to gaining market share but these are two different things and I think as a country and also, we would rather have the pie become bigger than just looking at gaining market share.
AB: Has IBC been the biggest banking sector reform that you have seen in the last few years?
Daruwala: I would say it is really one of the good reforms because we are seeing the balance of power between banks and the borrowers much better than what we saw…
AB: Fear of God amongst corporates.
Daruwala: …and I think the banking sector would have solved at least five lakh to six lakh crores of distressed assets thanks to the IBC, also I think it has brought better credit discipline because borrowers know that it cannot only be the bank issue, it is borrower also who has an obligation to resolve it so I think it has really helped.
AB: Is there a worry that it is also perhaps killing entrepreneurship?
Jindal: I am one of the strongest proponents of IBC, the fact that Mr L N Mittal came and invested in India is because of the IBC. So therefore IBC is definitely a fantastic reform that this government did. The challenge only is that it has killed a lot of entrepreneurs in India. I mean India is a country of entrepreneurs and there are good and bad entrepreneurs. You will have some bad apples as well so it is up to the banking system which should have control on who to lend and who not to lend. So my only limited question is whether it has killed a lot entrepreneurship in our country because India is known for its entrepreneurs.
AB: But despite IBC, Mr Khara the problem is lot of people would argue it is still taking too much time for a resolution?
Khara: IBC has helped in two major things. Firstly, the ecosystem for resolution of the brownfield has come into existence which was almost non-existent earlier. For a country like us we were required to have one such effective system and second, losing the control of an enterprise is no more a fiction and that is the other reason why the discipline has now come in. There has to be adequate discipline for all those who borrow and that is the other point which Zarin also mentioned that we have seen a lot of discipline with the borrowers before they borrow they think twice also and I think in a way that is good and that is ensuring that the capital is put to the right use and it is not let to some unhealthy practices so I would say that overall it is a very good development and if we really look at the insolvency code which has been adopted in many of the developed countries it has taken almost 10 years plus but nevertheless it is an evolving code and I am sure with each of the next iteration it is getting even better.
AB: Mr Piramal last word to you, do you think there too many tribunals?
Piramal: So I think I just want to comment on the IBC and hence the tribunal overall it has been in the right direction, the IBC is a good as he said the balance of power has shifted earlier if you borrowed you were the powerful person now it is the other way around or it is at least more balanced. I think the point is that we need to move this faster because very often when companies are referred to the IBC you will find that there is a lot of stress already and timely action cannot be taken unless the final decisions are taken so whether it is the NCLT, NCLAT and everything goes up to Supreme Court I have seen, we have to move faster and we will have to add more people so that the recovery will be better for the system, the companies can be revived that is the only point.
Anjana Srinivasan says she was in denial when the world closed its doors at the start of the pandemic.
”We figured, you know, a couple of weeks, a couple of months and be back in person,” said the family doctor and mother of two. “I don’t think anyone realized it would be for two years.”
Srinivasan is also an accomplished South Indian classical violinist, who can’t wait for the curtain to rise this Sunday in the first in-person event her Montreal-area cultural association will be hosting since the first wave.
“It’s very exciting because we’re going to be doing group performances and that energy will be there,” Srinivasan said.
Last year’s virtual event did feature group performances — through some careful editing by Srinivasan. She cut together separate audio and video recordings to make it seem like everyone was singing and playing together.
She’s become an online recording aficionado, turning part of her Town of Mount Royal home into a virtual concert hall and recording studio.
It’s what she had to do to keep the Indian community in the greater Montreal area connected to the arts when venues were shut down and people were confined to their homes.
“I bought a mic, I kind of learn things basically by watching YouTube,” Srinivasan said.
Srinivasan has a YouTube channel of her own, where she’s posted a series of videos, many in collaboration with other local artists and some in India, including her guru.
WATCH | Anjana Srinivasan performs a Carnatic version of Für Elise with her brother Ravi:
She has shared many of those videos to mark holidays such as Tamil New Year or the Hindu festival of Navaratri.
“I feel like I have gotten back to my roots,” she said.
Indian music and dance: Part of who we are
Srinivasan’s upbringing is much like my own. Both of us were born in Montreal, with our parents hailing from India.
Neither of us grew up watching Bollywood movies or performing Bollywood dances. As popular as the genre is, that was not part of our South Indian heritage.
Both of us had direct ties to the classical art forms of the region through our mothers, who are teachers in our community. That’s how Srinivasan learned South Indian classical, or Carnatic, music — a style that is centuries old, with a variety of scales or melodies known as ragas and beats or talas.
My mother taught me the Indian classical dance style of Bharatanatyam, also a centuries-old tradition with rhythmic movements, hand gestures and facial expressions — storytelling through dance. Srinivasan learned from my mother as well.
We both grew up performing in rented halls for local community events such as Deepavali, more commonly known as Diwali, and Pongal, the Tamil harvest season.
Srinivasan and I, along with other youth, would dress up in our Indian attire or costumes to sing or dance. After that, the community would gather and enjoy a meal, often cooked by our aunties — us kids all sitting together.
Our weekends were all about music and dance. When we weren’t performing, we were practising (I would later teach as well). We spent our summers on family trips to India. Our time away from school was about our art, our roots.
Srinivasan studied Carnatic violin as a teenager from teachers in India and still takes lessons from a renowned South Indian maestro. I still learn dance from my mother.
But those moments of connection have largely been over Zoom for two years. It’s allowed for an online dance class reunion of sorts, as I danced virtually with my sister, who now lives in Texas, and my other dance sisters, who have moved to Ontario and Arizona.
For Srinivasan and myself, Indian music and dance are part of who we are, our outlet that keeps us in touch — and sane — during the pandemic, amid our demanding careers.
It’s why I agreed to take part in an online Indian dance show that Srinivasan helped organize in March.
I practised almost every morning before I went into the office to anchor the late-night news.
One Sunday, I returned to the dance studio where my mother would, before the pandemic, hold her classes. Decked in my costume, jewellery and bells, I danced as Srinivasan and her husband set up the recording equipment. As soon as the music played through the speakers, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I fed off that energy and danced.
I felt the same way when my mother’s students finally returned to the studio for a rehearsal. My eyes welled up with tears watching them in person, realizing what the pandemic had taken away from us.
Virtual was ‘vital’ for the community’s youth
Srinivasan did not hesitate to keep her lessons going when the first wave hit.
“I think it was vital. It had to happen like that,” she said, adding that virtual community events kept students, including her teenage son, motivated.
“It’s hard to sit in your basement and just practise for the sake of practising.”
She felt the same way about the online dance classes for her daughter, who is now learning the craft from my mother.
Srinivasan believes teaching the community’s youth keeps their link to the culture alive, much like the same way our parents immersed us in music and dance growing up.
A direct connection to ‘back home’
Srinivasan’s first student, Shanmukh Iyer, says the violin strengthened his bond with relatives in India.
“Especially with my paati,” he said, using the Tamil word for grandmother. “She would ask me to play something. So it’s definitely a direct way to connect back home.”
Born in India, Iyer moved here with his family when he was a child. He was seven years old when he first picked up the violin. At 18, the Vanier College student recalls how the first wave was such a confusing and isolating time, cut off from school and from seeing his friends.
Playing the violin from his Dorval, Que., home was his outlet. He says virtual concerts made him less anxious.
“When you’re online, it’s kind of, you know, performing for your computer. So it was different, but I guess a good kind of different,” Iyer said.
Still, Iyer is looking forward to playing on stage this weekend. Sunday’s in-person show will have limited seating, as the community still wants to play it safe as local artists do their part to keep music and dance alive.
New Delhi [India], May 1 (ANI): While Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a three-nation tour, including France, Germany and Denmark on Tuesday, he is expected to address the Indian Diaspora in Berlin as well as Copenhagen. Apart from bilateral meetings with leaders of several countries, two power-packed events have also been planned. On May 2, PM Modi will be addressing the Indian community in a packed house of about 2000 people in Berlin. Sources aware of the development told ANI that Prime Minister Modi is expected to be at the venue for an hour and his address to the Indian Diaspora is expected to be for about 45 minutes. “We are very excited to have Prime Minister in our midst. Artists from all over the place have been brought in for cultural performances, which will be brief. People here are really looking to hear what the Prime Minister speaks about his vision,” Rajesh Nair, one of the volunteers for the event, told ANI. A similar event on May 3 has been planned for Copenhagen where about 1500 people are expected to attend. The visit by Prime Minister Modi is his first in 2022 and also comes at a very crucial juncture amid the Ukraine crisis refusing to die down. (ANI)
Clouds are seen over the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
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BENGALURU, March 23 (Reuters) – Indian shares were little changed on Wednesday as cautious investors kept an eye on crude prices and geopolitical events in the absence of any major domestic triggers.
By 0504 GMT, the blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) was up 0.11% at 17,334.45, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) had gained 0.10% to 58,046.43.
After falling nearly 1% on Monday and extending those losses into the first half of Tuesday — due to higher oil prices — both the indexes staged a mid-day reversal to end more than 1% higher as investors bought into the dip.
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While the Nifty and Sensex built on the upbeat momentum in early trading on Wednesday, markets have now given up most gains.
“Markets are not going to be that bullish today and there could be some kind of consolidation,” said Devarsh Vakil, deputy head of retail research at HDFC Securities.
“As such, we have risen a lot from (recent) lows. So, it is better to digest these gains,” he added.
Earlier this month, the indexes hit their lowest levels since late-July, but they have since risen about 11% each.
In Mumbai, gains in pharmaceutical and metal stocks offset losses in automobile companies.
The Nifty Pharma Index (.NIPHARM) was up 1.27%, with pharma major Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (REDY.NS) rising 3% and topping the Nifty 50 percentage gainers.
The Nifty Metal Index (.NIFTYMET) rose 0.49%, with aluminium and copper producer Hindalco Industries (HALC.NS) adding 2.3%. Global commodity prices remained high on potential supply hits due to the Ukraine conflict.
The Nifty Auto Index (.NIFTYAUTO) dropped 0.56% and was on track for its second session of losses in three.
Meanwhile, broader Asian markets hit their highest levels since March 4 as investors moved cash back into equities from bonds in preparation for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s aggressive approach to combat inflation.
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Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V