Tag: music

Sangeet Sandhya zooms into the digital age


By Saurabh Mishra

MELBOURNE, 7 APRIL 2020: As the world including Australia grappled with the corona virus crisis amidst lockdowns and strict social distancing restrictions, the Melbourne Indian community beat the otherwise gloomy atmosphere with songs and music. The Music Evening called the ‘Sangeet Sandhya’ innovated and emerged in its new form laced with technology. People participated or just enjoyed from the comfort of their homes the physical event digitally for the first time with Zoom, the video conferencing software from the Zoom Video Communications, Inc., US.

Faced with the new world of social distancing, the organisers of Sangeet & Swar Sandhya – Sharda Kala Kendra, headed by Mr. Rashid Sultan, felt that rather than take the easy route of cancelling the Sandhyas for the foreseeable future, they should instead, persist, adapt and re-invent. As one of the team eloquently put it, “The patrons of Sangeet Sandhya are no doubt already worried for their health and financial future. We should not add to their woes by taking away this beloved institution too”.

And so it was, that the very first Digital Sangeet Sandhya was held on Saturday 4th April using the Zoom video conferencing facility. About 150 people joined in from their homes to hear over 40 singers perform. Some of the singers performed with musical instruments they had at home (Harmonium, Tabla, Guitar, Keyboard), and others managed to plug in Karaoke tracks. The technology held up very well all night, and the overall experience was magical.

Some highlights included Namrata Trivedi’s soulful and masterful presentation of Thhumri, Hori and Chaiti, and Saurabh Mishra’s use of the Zoom screen-share feature to have the lyrics and meaning of the Ghazal that he presented showing as sub-titles as he sang. What’s more, Radheyshyam Gupta and Ratan Mulchandani also joined from Gurgaon, India and Newcastle, NSW respectively, as did an old Sangeet Sandhya alumnus – Hema Raina from New Jersey, USA.

Sangeet Sandhya is an icon for the Melbourne Indian community. It is a beloved open-mic community music event that was started by Shri Radheyshyam Gupta OAM, Mr.Ratan Mulchandani and Mr. Niranjan Chaudhary in 1997.

For the 23 years since then, it has been held unabated on the first Saturday of every second month, and anyone that turns up and wants to sing or play an instrument is warmly invited to do so.

By popular demand, a Karaoke format called Swar Sandhya was spun off some 10 years ago. Many a talented amateur musician has been “discovered” thanks to these Sandhyas, especially amongst new arrivals into Melbourne. But more than anything else, the Sandhyas have become a bona fide hub around which a vibrant community of music-lovers has been built up.

The team of volunteer organisers, worked very hard in the build-up to the Sandhya, generously helping people figure out how to connect, and indeed how best to perform with the technology. They were also kept busy throughout the evening, troubleshooting, producing the event, and managing the very lively online chat that was also running side-by-side.

Wikileaks: Pak hoaxed by fake & dubious anti-India cables, papers retract stories

Pakistani newspapers have admitted they were hoaxed after publishing reports based on fake Wikileaks cables containing anti-Indian propaganda.

US diplomatic cables were reported on Thursday as confirming many right-wing Pakistani views and conspiracy theories about their regional arch-foe.

They claimed US envoys thought one Indian general was “rather a geek”, and accused India of genocide in Kashmir.

The fake cables are believed to have been planted by Pakistani intelligence.

The Guardian, a British newspaper which has all of the 250,000 leaked Wikileaks cables, said that an extensive search of the database had found nothing to match any of the claims in the Pakistani media.

‘Deep regret’
A spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said they were “appalled” such a baseless story had attracted such wide exposure.

According to the fake cables, Indian spies were said to be supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan’s north-western tribal region of Waziristan and the south-western province of Balochistan.

US diplomats were also said to believe the Indian Army was faction-ridden; a “Bosnia-like genocide” was happening in Indian-administered Kashmir; and the Indian military was supporting “Hindu fanatic groups”.

On further inquiries, we learnt the story was dubious ”

The bogus messages also referred to the confession of Ajmal Qasab, the only surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, calling it funny and “shockingly immature”.

US diplomats were said to have referred to former Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor as “an incompetent combat leader and rather a geek”.

“His war doctrine, suggesting eliminating China and Pakistan in a simultaneous war front, was termed as ‘much far from reality’,” reported the News, a daily newspaper.

Another army chief had apparently been described as “an egotist, self-obsessed, petulant and idiosyncratic general, a braggadocio and a show-off, who has been disliked (and barely tolerated) by all his subordinates”.

‘Without verification’
The report also said that US diplomats had compared yet another Indian general in Indian-administered Kashmir to “General Milosevic of Bosnia with regard to butchering Muslims through war crimes”.

The News said on Friday: “On further inquiries, we learnt from our sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted.”

The English-language Express Tribune newspaper, a Pakistani affiliate of the International Herald Tribune, published a front-page retraction.

The daily said it “deeply regrets publishing this story without due verification and apologises profusely for any inconvenience”.

But Jang, which had reported the fake Wikileaks story on its front page, did not mention it on Friday.

And the Nation newspaper still appeared to believe the story, claiming in an editorial that the report had exposed “India’s true face”.

The hoax is said to have originated from the Islamabad-based Online wire agency.

The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says Online is known for its close links to the Pakistani intelligence services.

The agency gained notoriety in 2002 when one of its correspondents tried to sell a video of US journalist Daniel Pearl’s murder to US diplomats.