June 19, 2016

India: Kairana about which BJP is spewing hate is also famous for a great gharana of Hindustani classical music (Saba Naqvi)

The Economic Times

Kairana is also famous for a great gharana of Hindustani classical music
ET Bureau|

18 June, 2016, 07.27AM IST

By Saba Naqvi

There is sometimes a march of history and politics that erases memories of the fragile, beautiful things our civilization has given us. Kairana, a dusty little town in Shamli district of western Uttar Pradesh, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It is allegedly the scene of what is now called the "Hindu exodus".

BJP MP from the Kairana Lok Sabha seat, Hukum Singh, recently produced a list of 346 Hindu families that he claimed have been forced to flee the town—it has an 85 percent Muslim population—because of attacks and extortion by members of the minority community.

Naturally, the VHP quickly jumped in and spoke of "jehadi activities" driving Hindus out. Since Uttar Pradesh is election bound and Shamli district part of the stage for what came to be referred to as the Muzaffarnagar riots, it's hardly surprising that the national BJP has given legitimacy to the tale of the flight of 'terrified' Hindus. Reporters who have gone to the ground have not been able to verify these claims, but no matter, Kairana is now a place associated in our minds with strife and lawlessness.

But it is this very Kairana whose name is attached to one of the greatest gharanas of Hindustani classical music. Phrases like Hindu-Muslim synthesis sound too cliched to describe the expanse of human cooperation, talent and generosity that went into the evolution of a gharana such as Kairana.

It produced among others the great Bhimsen Joshi, the only male vocalist to have been given the Bharat Ratna. This may also be the moment to remember that it was Bhimsen who composed that wonderful song in Raag Miya ki Malhar—one of the important ragas to be produced by the Kairana gharana—Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, sung by musicians from across the country and across genres. It was meant to celebrate our unity in diversity.

But let's flashback a little earlier to the story of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, born in Kairana, who is widely acknowledged to be one of the artists who defined Hindustani classical music (he died in 1937). His statue still stands at the entrance of the premises of All India Radio in Delhi. [. . .]

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