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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora