This is the title of an article written by noted Carnatic singer Vidwan T.M. Krishna (TMK) in his website. The article can be read here. TMK primarily talks about the discrimination against women in Carnatic music and points out that such discrimination exists even today. This is certainly not the first time we are hearing or reading this. In fact, this topic has been dealt with in detail earlier in one of Indira Menon’s books titled “The Madras Quartet” (Roli Books, 1999). I have also heard/read leading female vocalists (ex. Vid Ranjani & Vid Gayathri) and male accompanists (ex. Vid Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman) talk about the same. However, what is significant is that:

  1. this time, a leading male artist (TMK) has come out and written his frank views on this topic
  2. the main artist in a concert (like TMK) often, if not always, plays a key role in the selection of accompanying artists

After seeing TMK’s real good intentions through this article, I am sure he would have started practicing what he is preaching or at least would have started thinking about how he can do his bit in this regard.

It would be really heartening to see everyone concerned with Carnatic music in general, and artists & organizers in particular, set aside any form of discrimination (based on caste, sex, connections/blood relations with big shots/famous musicians etc) and let talent find it’s own way to the top. The world would of course be a much better place to live in if this were to become true in all fields.

6 thoughts on “Discrimination?

  1. Nice article, thanks for pointing it out. Good to know that while esteemed artistes like TMK want to respect tradition, they are willing to separate milk from water. Hopefully people will have a healthy debate about these things and come up with ways to avoid such discrimination in the future.

  2. Hmm… time that people like TMK started to practise this too.But,all this, I fear is too deeply rooted and people usually only talk about it!

  3. I think the main impetus somehow must come from the rasikas. Somehow we somehow send the message that discrimination is unhealthy and not tasteful in a way that gets notice. Instead, if we simply were focused just on the music, and play a passive role of a neutral observer in such matters, there would be less incentive to change, and change wont happen.

    But kudos to TMK for coming out with his views on this. And thanks for the link Ram.

  4. Thanks Ram for sharing the link. The last sentence in TMK’s article is very apt and sums it all. It was a nice gesture on TMK’s part to understand it and write about it. Coming from a leading artist adds more value to it.
    I read Indira Menon’s books recently. Also, happened to talk to her at Delhi in April this year. She has understandably very strong views on this. She has mentioned in her book that the genius Mali had T. Rukmini as a regular accompanist.
    Also, Vid. Gangubai Hangal in an interview recalls some painful incidents. And, wonders why good male musicians were given titles like ‘Ustad’ and ‘Pandit’, while women were always “Bai(/Bais)”
    Wonder why there is this bias!!

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