Antara Das

Therapeutic effect of music being harnessed by the West Bengal Prisons Directorate

KOLKATA: If music heals, then those serving prison terms are most in need of the healing touch. And it is this therapeutic effect of music that is being harnessed by the West Bengal Prisons Directorate in an effort to make a difference to the lives of prisoners across the State.

So when vocalist Pandit Jasraj took the stage in the Presidency Correctional Home here on January 26, much to the delight of the prisoners who formed the bulk of the audience, it marked a watershed for the authorities who had organised the programme.

"The reason behind roping in big celebrities is to attract the attention of society to the cause and set it up as an example so that other musicians too feel inspired to come and perform in prisons," said B.D. Sharma, Inspector-General of Correctional Services, Government of West Bengal.

A local non-governmental organisation, Satyam Seva Kendra, which has been conducting yoga and meditation classes in several prisons in West Bengal for quite a while, helped the prison authorities in organising the concert. "Our experience has shown that music helps the inmates to better cope with and express their emotional problems," said P.C. Rateria, its founder trustee.

"We have also received a message from President Kalam to put music therapy to greater use in prisons," Mr. Rateria added.

"In fact, what we are attempting in the prisons is the introduction of a whole range of cultural activities, a kind of culture therapy," said Mr. Sharma.