News / Asia

India Reflects on Ravi Shankar's Legacy

Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar performs in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, February 7, 2009.
Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar performs in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, February 7, 2009.

Related Articles

Anjana Pasricha
— As India reflects on the legacy of sitar artist Ravi Shankar, who died on Tuesday in the United States, many are recalling what he meant for the country. The iconic musician, who carried Indian classical music to the West, has been called India’s greatest cultural ambassador.    
 
Sounds from the multi-stringed instrument called the sitar helped Shankar captivate audiences across the globe. At the same time, the celebrated composer and musician raised India’s profile in Western countries. Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, says he projected the country on the global stage in the 1960's and 70's when there were not too many people willing to bet on India.  
 
“Remember, it was not very long after independence, India’s democracy was still an experiment, its economy was in shambles, and India in the west was routinely described as a black hole or a basket case," he recalls. "What Ravi Shankar did was to project the idea of India as a country that is rich in culture and which had a future. In that sense, the changeover in India’s image was largely due to people like Ravi Shankar and others like him, who contrasted India’s present poverty with its past richness and its future promises.”  
 
Rise to fame

Ravi Shankar began playing in the West after receiving rigorous and traditional training in India. But he broke the mold as he experimented with fusions of Indian themes with Western classical and jazz styles. And as he played with top rock bands in the West, he helped close the musical gap between distinct cultures.  
 
As he shot to fame in the West, he was showered with accolades at home. He was a member of the Upper House of Parliament from 1986 to 1992. He was given India’s top civilian award, the Bharat Ratna in 1999. Ravi Shankar composed the music for India’s favorite patriotic song and the signature tunes of India’s state owned broadcaster. He also composed some Bollywood film music.
 
But more than anything, his huge international success helped shake the dust off India’s 5,000-year-old heritage and classical art in the eyes of the world.     
 
Star status

An Indian playback singer, Babul Supriyo, says he gave rock star status to Indian classical music.    
 
“It is the charisma, the fame, the aura that he brought into classical music that is important for me," he says. "What Ravi Shankar did -- bring that glamour aspect which was kind of missing. That flamboyance, that élan that Ravi Shankar brought into classical music was one of the reasons why he got so well accepted.”
 
Lalit Mansingh, who knew Ravi Shankar for more than five decades, says he was born with an ability to communicate to people across the world. He says, the musician, also known as Panditji had an “amazing personality.”
 
“Very outgoing, very optimistic. He had this sense of enthusiasm, sense of curiosity…he would have views on everything, and it was always with a light touch," Mansingh says. "He would always enliven any meeting with his sense of humor and descriptions of his experiences and so on. The nice thing about Panditji is, he never started by saying what is in it for me, how much money are you giving me.”
 
In India, Ravi Shankar, will be remembered not just as one of the world’s greatest and tallest musicians, but also as its most famous musical son.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: henok from: Dallas
December 16, 2012 2:36 AM
"India in the west was routinely described as a black hole" (reminds me at the present my country's misunderstood image in the west) Ravi Shankar contribution, "projected the idea of India as a country that is rich in culture and which had a future. In that sense, the changeover in India’s image was largely due to people like Ravi Shankar and others like him, who contrasted India’s present poverty with its past richness and its future promises.” Ambassador Lalit Mansingh. Thank You for your contribution. Rest in peace now.


by: Amskeptic from: United States
December 15, 2012 1:32 PM
Wonderful collaboration between Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass, Sadhapina and Preshanti.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid