Akademi Awards 2009 - President Pratibha Devisingh Patil of India Confers Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and awards

New Delhi, India, Sept 28, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB) The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil conferred the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Akademi Awards for 2009 at a special ceremony here today. This year six eminent personalities were conferred Akademi Fellowships and thirty three artists received the Akademi Awards. In the ceremony, Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State (PMO) represented the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister for Culture.


FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF PRESIDENT’S SPEECH ON THE OCCASION:

“I am very happy to be present at the award ceremony of Sangeet Natak Akademi. I would like to congratulate Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman - Carnatic Violinist, Shri Shreeram Lagoo - Theatre Actor, Ms. Yamini Krishnamurti - Bharatanatyam exponent, Shri Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi - Scholar of Sanskrit Theatre as well as Smt. Kishori Amonkar and Pandit Jasraj – both Hindustani Vocalists on becoming Fellows of the Akademi. All of you have achieved excellence, are eminent persons in your respective fields and have rendered yeomen service to Indian art and culture. I also congratulate the Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees. You too have contributed immensely and deserve recognition.

Culture is a source of pride for all peoples, nations and societies. This award ceremony is a time to recall our own highly evolved and rich culture. Dances with their rhythms and expressions, music with its different gharanas, folk performances with their multiplicity of local themes and local dresses bring to mind a powerful idea of India and its civilization. Art and culture, music and literature not only give an identity to a country, but also become the means to celebrate life itself. Dance and music in India have closely been associated with the change of seasons, cycle of agriculture, ceremonies of birth and marriage.

Material prosperity through the application of science and technology is no doubt essential for any modern community. But economic progress by itself in a cultural vacuum would be soulless. A nation needs the moorings of a set of values and cultural expressions, which provide it the intellectual and spiritual compass for its growth. Rejuvenation of arts has been an inevitable accompaniment of our national growth. Hence, even as we are progressing, we must continue to have an environment where excellence in art and culture can be achieved. Fine arts sharpen our sensibilities as human beings and make life worth living. Society, therefore, has a great stake in the artistic genius of gifted individuals and they must receive our encouragement and appreciation.

India is a very large country where the concept of unity through diversity is integral. The music of our saints and sages like Guru Nanak, Tulsidas, Kabir, and Surdas has helped preserve equilibrium in society and righteousness in the individual. By promoting greater understanding, even within the country, of our various cultures, music has became a vital aspect of our national integration as well. Moreover, a society which ennobles arts is enlightened. Hatred and violence can have no place in a civilized society. Here, I would like to recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi – ‘Mutual courtesy and respect is the foundation of culture’. These words in essence capture the values and behavioural conduct necessary for civilized societies.

In India, learning has been an age-old concept. Knowledge has been passed on from generation to generation. The Guru-Shishya parampara has a special significance in the field of performing arts. This is because these demand perfection and are the outcome of rigorous training and self-discipline. We have in our country many masters in the field of music, and I am confident that they would pass on their knowledge to their students, so that our rich tradition is kept alive.

Since very early times, Indian culture has had an influence in the world. I was recently in Laos and Cambodia. There are historical and cultural monuments in both these countries that are a glorious testimony to our common cultural heritage. In the language, customs and rituals also there are many commonalities. For example, the Baci ceremony of Laos where threads are tied on the wrists of friends and family for their welfare and security is very much like our festival of Rakshabandhan. I witnessed performances in Cambodia based on the Ramayana. These close cultural linkages with these countries, as also other countries both to the East and West, today provide the basis for our longstanding bonds of friendship with them. Cultural diplomacy is a potent instrument in our foreign policy. Cultural exchanges, I believe, are important to promote understanding between peoples and must be encouraged.

In today’s globalised and integrated world, there are cross-cultural currents and, at the same time, advances in technology are providing newer variants of art and music. In these circumstances, questions of how to absorb change and how to retain the traditional styles present a challenge. I believe it is important for the many strands of culture that exists in the world and are a result of the evolution of different civilizations, to continue to exist. These add to variety in the world which is so essential for keeping it as a planet of great cultural diversity, which alone can make it interesting. However, there should be efforts to take these different cultural forms to the people in an appealing manner.

India has a rich cultural canvas, which forms an important part of the global cultural heritage. It needs to be preserved, conserved and documented. New technologies offer us an opportunity for this. Creating archives of performing arts would also help academic institutions who could use these materials for educational purposes, researchers in their work and practitioners in their art. Speaking at the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s previous functions, I have spoken of it and, I repeat here, the need for society at large to become patrons of art and culture. Business houses and the corporate world must lend their support to this cause.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi is the principal all-India organization responsible for the encouragement and development of dance, drama and music. I am confident that under the guidance of Ms. Leela Samson its new Chairperson, the Akademi will continue to play a leading role in nurturing our cultural richness.”

The Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna) and Akademi Award (Akademi Puraskar) are recognized as the highest national honours conferred on performing artists, gurus and scholars of the performing arts and have come to stay as the most coveted honour which the artistes aspire to. These honours are decided by Akademi's General Council, the apex body consisting of eminent artistes, scholars and nominees of Government of India and of different States and Union Territories of the country.

The highest honour of Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna) was conferred on maestros Lalgudi Jayaraman, Shreeram Lagoo, Yamini Krisbnamurti, Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi and Kishori Amonkar. They received purse money of Rupees three lakhs, besides an angavastrarn and a tamrapatra. The Fellowship of the Akademi is the most rare honour, which is restricted to a limited number at a given time. Presently there are only 32 living Fellows of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. Pandit Jasraj, who was also to be conferred with the fellowship, could not attend the function to receive it.

The eminent representatives of Music, Dance and Theatre honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2009 received purse money of Rupees one lakh, angavastram and tamrapatra.

In the field of Music, eight artists namely Abdul Rashid Khan and Vasundhara Komkali for Hindustani Vocal Music, Lachman Singh Seen (Tabla) and Ali Ahmad Hussain (Shehnai) for Hindustani Instrumental Music, Parassala B Ponnammal for Camatic Vocal, U. Shrinivas (Mandolin) and Dandamudi Sumathi Rama Mohan Rao (Mridangam) for Camatic Instrumental Music, and L. Ibohalmacha Singh (Nata Sankirtana) for Other Major Traditions of Music received the Award.

In the field of Dance, eight practitioners namely Ananda Shankar Jayant (Bharatanatyam) Prerana Shrimali (Kathak), Kalamandalam Rajan (Kathakali), L. Bino Devi (Manipuri), Geeta Mahalik (Odissi), Vyjayanthi Kashi (Kuchipudi), Daksha Sheth (Creative & Experimental) and Kala Krishna (Other Major Traditions of Dance -Andhranatyam) received the Award.

In the field of Theatre also eight persons have been selected. They include playwright Vayala Vasudevan Pillai (Malayalam), actors Sudha Shivpuri and Neeta Mohindra, and directors Joy Michael and Dinesh Thakur. Kamal Arora (Make-up) and Kuldeep Singh Vig (Music for Theatre) received the Award in the category of Allied Theatre Arts. Playwright Shankar Narayan Navre (Marathi) could not attend the function to receive the award.

For their contribution 10 Other Traditional/Folk/ Tribal Music! Dance! Theatre, Musafir Ram Bhardwaj (Folk Dance-Himachal Pradesh), Vilayat Khan Ragi (Dhadhi Folk MusicPunjab), U K Kunjirama Panicker (Theyyam-Kerala), Jaganath Behera (Pala-Orissa), Shanti Jain (Folk Music-Bihar), Vithal Gangaram Umap (Folk Theatre-Maharashtra) and Bhikhudan Govindbhai Gadhvi (Folk Music-Gujarat) have been selected for the Akademi Award. Moinul Haque from Assam received the Award for his contribution to Mime.

Leela Venkataraman honoured with the Award for her overall contribution to the Performing Arts.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, established by the Government of India on 31 May 1952 is the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. It was created as the apex body in the country for the task of preservation and promotion of the performing art tradition of India.

One of the important activities of the Akademi has been to give recognition and honours to artistes for setting standards in performing arts and restoring the art and artists to their rightful place in independent India.