Artists and the spirit of FREE­DOM

TRUE LIB­ERTY To celebrate In­de­pen­dence Day, here’s some wis­dom from In­dia’s great artists for our read­ers

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Fran­cis H D’sa

When I asked five well- es­tab­lished In­dian artists to talk to young In­di­ans about what free­dom re­ally means, they won­dered if to­day’s gen­er­a­tion needs ad­vice as it is well-equipped to han­dle S H RAZA

Syed Haider Raza is one of In­dia’s most com­pelling and sought -af­ter mod­ernists. Cre­ator of the iconic bindi, he still paints at 94.

In 1947 In­dia won free­dom but trag­i­cally it was par­ti­tioned. Al­most all mem­bers of my fam­ily left for the newly cre­ated Pak­istan, I did not. I was born in In­dia, grew up here and I had seen Ma­hatma Gandhi in Mandla. In­dia was and is my coun­try and I could not dream of leav­ing it. Though later I lived in France for 60 years, I re­tained my cit­i­zen­ship of In­dia. I now live in Delhi for the last four years or so. Ev­ery week I visit a church on Sun­day, a tem­ple and a masjid. This for me is In­dia: not only the idea but the re­al­ity.

In­dia is also the name of cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion. It has not only a very rich tra­di­tion of arts and literature, but also an in­cred­i­ble plu­ral­ity of vi­sions, styles and id­ioms, in­sights and anx­i­eties. I feel the plu­ral­ity of In­dia is unique and its civ­i­liza­tion­al­ity quite un­prece­dented.

The youth of this great civ­i­liza­tional en­ter­prise of In­dia are the heirs of this huge plu­ral­is­tic reper­toire of In­dia. Firstly, they must un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate it. It is a com­plex legacy. We have been mod­ern on our own terms. The youth should not sim­plify or over- any emer­gency armed as it is with the very best and the latest in tech­nol­ogy (in­ter­net, tele­vi­sion, mo­bile phone etc)... But given their ex­pe­ri­ence and tal­ent, who wouldn’t mind but a few words of wis­dom by greats such as SH Raza, Baiju Parthan, Nilofer Sule­man, Mil­burn Che­rian and Jayasri Bur­man. look the enor­mous com­plex­ity. There are dif­fer­ent, even con­trary, ways of look­ing at and ex­plor­ing the hu­man con­di­tion, ideas, arts and po­etry etc. This has to be nur­tured, sus­tained, cel­e­brated. We are a plu­ral peo­ple, not merely racially, so­cially etc but also civ­i­liza­tion­ally. We speak many lan­guages and di­alects. We prac­tice many dif­fer­ent re­li­gions. We write, ex­plore, celebrate the hu­man con­di­tion in so many di­verse ways. This amaz­ing plu­ral­ity is the core of the civ­i­liza­tional en­ter­prise of In­dia over mil­lenia. The youth to­day should first get them­selves to un­der­stand, ap­pre­ci­ate and ex­plore it. Then they should in their own di­verse ways celebrate, nur­ture and sus­tain it.

The youth must re­mem­ber that noth­ing comes easy. We, the artists, had to strug­gle a lot when we were young. What mat­ters ul­ti­mately is the tenac­ity of ef­fort, the depth of cre­ative imag­i­na­tion and the rel­e­vance of vi­sion. Un­like us, who strug­gled when In­dia was not free, they have both free­dom and a demo­cratic sys­tem. They should bring an open­ness to their cre­ativ­ity, a free­dom their craft and tenac­ity to their aes­thet­ics. The young should cre­ate art full of com­plex­ity and anx­i­eties, which is rooted but open minded. It should res­onate what hap­pened be­fore. Rooted in mem­ory it should ad­dress the re­al­ity of our times. BAIJU PARTHAN

Baiju Parthan is one of In­dia’s fore­most young mul­ti­me­dia moder nists and in­ter na­tion­ally fa­mous as the new face of mod­ern In­dian pain­ters.

Free­dom is some­thing that is pal­pa­ble yet in­tan­gi­ble. Some­thing that we take for granted in our demo­cratic so­cio-po­lit­i­cal setup.

The real value of free­dom can be ex­pe­ri­enced only when it is taken away or when it is de­nied and all of a sud­den it be­comes tan­gi­ble in its ab­sence. At a per­sonal level I had a first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of this sit­u­a­tion dur­ing the In­dian emer­gency of the ’70s while I was a col­lege stu­dent in Ker­ala.

The In­dian Emer­gency was de­clared on June 25, 1975 - for a 21-month pe­riod, when the then Pres­i­dent Fakhrud­din Ali Ahmed, on the ad­vice of Prime Min­is­ter Indira Gandhi, de­clared a state of emer­gency un­der Ar­ti­cle 352 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia, sus­pend­ing elec­tions and civil lib­er­ties and be­stow­ing on her the power to rule by de­cree. In one stroke all the fun­da­men­tal rights and le­gal rights of the in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens pro­tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion were sus­pended.

It was un­like any­thing we the post-in­de­pen­dence gen­er­a­tion had ex­pe­ri­enced. Along with that came the op­pres­sive feel­ing that walls have ears. NILOFER SULE­MAN de­pict a vi­sionAn artistof In­dia known that for elic­it­sher abil­ity hu­mour too and a sense of nos­tal­gia. de­sire is to see that As we an move In­dian, to­wardsmy great­est in­tegt - t- rity, courage and sen­si­tiv­ity. I wish that we have more evolved lead­ers who are bet­ter vi­sion­ar­ies. I wish...That we move to­wardss gen­der equal­ity. That we are more sen­si­tive

ee. . to­wards peo­ple’s per­sonal choices in life.

That we care about the the an­i­mals andd trees that we share our land with. That we

eee have bet­ter civic sense and are more sen­si­tive

eee e and so­cially aware. And that we have more tol­er­ance to­wards all faiths. As an in­di­vid­ual, , free­dom is one of my core val­ues. In my case, , I come from a fam­ily with three gen­er­a­tion of

ff rebels and the free spirit is what my chil­dren

n have in­her­ited from me. We need to teach our

r young­sters that it is im­por­tant to em­brace e free­dom and it is equally im­por­tant to re­spect the sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with it.

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