The article “Zubin Mehta and the unequal music” (September 18) was one-sided. While it is true that music does not manufacture peace, it is also true that regions exposed to cultural development are less prone to unrest. Arts, sciences, literature and music are necessary for intellectual advancement. We have seen how the Taliban’s ban on music and dance in Afghanistan spelt intellectual catastrophe for the country.
Mr. Mehta’s concert was apolitical. He never claimed that he was restoring peace in Kashmir by playing compositions of Haydn and Beethoven. The only message was that cultural events are integral to a society and should not be held hostage to a few vested interests.
That music brings peace to one’s mind is an undisputed fact. Mr. Mehta perhaps overstated the fact in the context of ‘peace’ in Kashmir.
Separatists, who opposed Mr. Mehta’s concert saying it was anti-Islamic, organised a parallel concert. That both concerts were held shows India is a mature democracy with space for both agreement and dissent. Let us, therefore, neither exaggerate the importance of Mr. Mehta’s concert nor call it insignificant.
I think the article is unduly critical of the Kashmir government’s efforts to bring peace to the Valley through music and art. I was witness to a similar effort while I was studying in a Nainital boarding school in the late 1990s.
We were distressed after a natural calamity struck the region. The memories of a musical theatre held beside the Naini lake then are still fresh in my mind. I feel very happy when I remember the event.
True, Kashmir is a wounded Valley. But all that Mr. Mehta and his troupe did was to extend a healing touch. His actions should be seen purely from a musical perspective. After all, music transcends everything and has a universal appeal. Nobody can deny the efficacious effect of music. The maestro performed in the trouble-torn State with all good intentions.
It is nobody’s case that a single musical night can lend a healing touch to the alienated population of Kashmir. But none can deny that cultural activities and sports can do a lot to enhance community participation, and enable people to experience a sense of pride in the State’s unique identity. Banishing cultural activities from the State will help only those who want to perpetuate fear and hatred.
The article was insightful. Music alone cannot bring peace to a State where uncertainty has prevailed for decades and where the curfew culture and fear have wreaked havoc in the common man’s life.
Let us think about something practical rather than use entertainment as modern diplomacy. The concert was meant for a selective few and was wrongly portrayed as a show meant for all of Kashmir.
Mr. Mehta’s peace concert in an army camp was irrelevant to the situation in Kashmir. Crores spent on it could have been granted to victims of violence as education aid or health care aid. That would have brought more peace to the Valley.
It is social and economic freedom that brings inner peace. If music could usher in inner peace, pop stars would not have killed themselves.
While artists have every right to propagate their works, they should not oversimplify people’s everyday struggles. After facing the “music” of guns, bombs and police sirens for nearly 25 years, can an average Kashmiri pay heed to the interlude of philharmonic orchestra? In a State where people’s historic love for the Sufi tradition and music has not succeeded in bringing peace, can an evening with Zubin Mehta work?