Wednesday, February 24, 2010

James Wilson: Progenitor of Financial Budget in India

“He delighted in India and regarded her resources with hopeful interest, her people with sympathy, her scenery with admiration, and her antiquities with curiosity. Nothing, he said could be imagined more intensely interesting than India…” these word would best canopied the sound affiliation of this visionary man with Indian reality which was used by none the other than his understudy and later successor, Sir Richard Temple.
From a Hat maker to the founder of "The Economist" magazine and parent arms of today’s Standard Chartered Bank-further alleviated to the rank of the Board of Trade and lastly in effect, India’s first Finance Minister-amazing yet it was achievable in short span of fifty five years of life; James Wilson did it and this year’s budget which stands 150th since his inaugural financial budget in 1860 deserves a revisiting to the spirits of this pioneer financial planner.

James Wilson gave India’s first Budget speech in his capacity as finance member of the Indian council that used to advise the viceroy of India and held the prestigious post of Indian Chancellor of Exchequer from November29, 1859, when he came to Calcutta to August 11, 1860-until he died there from dysentery.Indeed he was a man of intellectual prudence and sound enterprise that evolved within his persona through tough dwelling yet with modest fortune from ancestral businesses of Hat and later of Indigo business in India-both these ventures imparted him great impetus for trade. Likewise his personnel business, he also taken charge of finance minister when the Indian economy was in financially precarious condition and soon emerged from the heavy military expenditure that incurred on to suppress the mutiny of 1957.

Naturally he was aligned for conservative public finance approach with temporary aim to balance the anatomy of budget and apply taxation for revenue only-he introduced the budgetary system, paper currency albeit remained stood on floating the Income Tax in India. In the wake of Income Tax imposition though in restricted way-than very dominant Marwari traders of Calcutta went on to protest with solid groupings; big land holders {Zamindars}were equally upset because they felt such a tax might disturb the core spirits of the Permanent Settlement introduced by the Lord Cornwallis in 1793. This was tried to form through the Zamindars, a local land holding aristocracy who could be worked as authority favored link between the British rule and Indian farmers besides having right to collect revenue in exchange of rudimentary privileges-at least in short term, Zamindar’s lobby succeeded to vanquished the tax proposal.

Although James Wilson’s budgetary planning also refuted from internal sources, especially Sir Charles Trevelyon {than the Governor of Madras} and a confidant of contemporary Governor General-Lord William Bentick did raised the question mark on introduction of taxes on politically deprived Indian’s. “ Indeed Travelyon had some genuine bond with Indians at large that worried him about the long term consequences of burdening Indians with no chances of political representation {Vikram Doctor, The Economic Times, January28, 2010}”. Despite this Travelyon he was not very rational on other issues like of his vehement opposition to centralization of administration as had been personally a part of distant and alien southern territory, away from the capital of Calcutta. There might be diverse assumption about the work of James Wilson but he deserves to be taken into account while talking of budgetary issues-after all this man had last pronounced…”Take care of my Income Tax” in the capacity of India’s first finance minister.

Atul Kumar Thakur
February21st 2010, New Delhi

Expanding Roles of Regional Rural Banks

Regional Rural Banks{RRBs} were first set up in the year 1975, under the RRB Ordinance Act {1975}; the ordinance was later replaced by the RRB Act {1976}. Formation of these banks was the result of the growing realization that the ethos and attitude of the existing Public Sector banks were not entirely conducive to meet the credit needs of the rural peoples.
RRBs or Gramin Banks existential quest originated through the broad financial vision of then the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who could foresee these banks strong role in future consolidation of Indian banking businesses, particularly in rural hinterlands. –remarkably this was the culmination earlier revolutionary move of large scale nationalization of banking industry i8n 1969.

To cope with the contemporary existing challenges, nationalization of fourteen banks along with the creation of a strong pool of regionally focused RRBs were the well timed initiative of the government which constructively moulded the further Indian growth stories for next two decades before foraying into liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991. Indeed government ownership led banks to expand their network dramatically, which in turn helped them in procuring low-cost deposits, boosting profits besides fueling country’ rate of savings and growth.
RRBs infact played very vital role in meeting with the goal of “social control” of Indian banks to reach with idealistic dream to the social hierarchy-RRBs have very high stake in forwarding Indian GDP growth rate to the 5.5-6% in the eighties and further improvement of banking performances in the nineties and thereafter besides broadening the saving rate from 12%in 1969 to 20% in 1980-branches from 8,000 in 1969 to 32,000 in 1980 and further to 60,000 in 1990.

Partial success of rural banking model could be best attributed to the no-frills operational methodology with low-cost and very less cumbersome services delivery in unbanked rural areas which was out rightly an unprecedented phenomenon before these two very important changes in Indian banking landscape.
Although post economic reform era witnessed a drastic shift in earlier compulsions of PSU banks to widen their rural footprints; in recent years these banks have shown stark differences from their rural responsibility albeit RRBs have alone displayed the proper resolution in this regard.With RBI’s new flexible branch opening rulings, their ongoing amalgamation and restructuring in their businesses-today RRBs are swiftly emerging as a lead player in rural banking business.

As on March 31,2009, RRBs had total business of Rs1,80,000 crore, of this deposits were of Rs 1,20,000 crore and total lending was at Rs 20,000 crore-besides statistics, the significant contribution of RRBs in rural financing is suffice to place it in high end Indian banking.
In recent annual international ranking by the UK based Brand PLC-this year SBI breaks into top 50 with a brand value of $4,5551 million; Indian banks have explicitly improved their brand value during the recent recession phase as big daddies of global banking were struggling to germ their previous standings, there are twenty Indian banks have placed in the recent Brand Finance@Global Banking-very soon as a single entity, Indian Regional Rural Banks would be next among them with unique rural dimensions.

But steps taken by the government and RBI in the last few years were not reached to the level of satisfaction; as per RBI records-of the six lakh habitations in the country , only about 30,000 have access to commercial banks-just 40% of the population have bank accounts and this ratio is hugely variable in different geographical region. RRBs with more than 15,000 branches have massive reach in the country’s deep rural areas, its mandate is to provide a business roadmap for these banks to strengthen them and extend banking facilities to the unbanked areas.

The RBI’s recent recommendation of 9% CRAR{Capital to Risk Weighted Asset Ratio}for RRBs to make sure of their capitalization is good omen since most of them are way behind this , a lot of RRBs are not well capitalized and their CRAR varies between 5-7%. It’s a welcome move from government to constitute a committee under the RBI Deputy Governor K.C.Chakravarty to capitalize the RRBs in the country; accompanying this with Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reform recommendations-such as minimizing the undue emphasis on credit delivery and shift of focus to improving access to financial services would surely back RRBs to focus on the crest of Indian banking.
Atul Kumar Thakur
February 21st 2010, New Delhi

Establishment of RBI: A brief Account

Warren Hastings, the Governor of Bengal during the twilight of eighteenth century was an unusual top end British official who introduced some noble changes within his jurisdiction in colonial India albeit his later life completely defied his preeminence and early fortune as he became the first top notch British official to pass through the disgraceful ire of impeachment. Anyway, Warren Hastings in his capacity of the Governor of Bengal recommended the establishment of a “General Bank in Bengal and Bihar” in January 1773.
Although this ceremonial initiation not lasted for long albeit the other proposal for amalgamation of three Presidency Banks {Bengal, Bombay and Madras} in 1866 were somehow remarkable which remained into existence with frequent renewal of policy intricacies. These three Presidency banks were finally amalgamated in 1921 with the incarnation as Imperial Bank of India.

Initially it was not structured to play a full scale role of a central bank nevertheless it proceeded with the optimization between the dual tough role of commercial entity with specific central banking leaning. But it remained abstained from key monetary planning-like note issue and management of foreign exchange which remained the business of Central government. Meanwhile in 1926, the Royal Commission on Indian Currency {also known as Hilton Young Commission} recommended that the dichotomy of functions and divisions of responsibility for control of currency and credit should be ended.
The commission finally came out with an idea for establishment of a Central bank with the name of “Reserve Bank of India {RBI}” with gross distinction from dominant Imperial bank-further, RBI’s continuance was contemplated imperative for advancement of banking culture in entire length and width of the country. Later with some more stout deliberations at the both Assembly and the Council of State-the contemporary Governor General approved the formation of RBI on March 6,1934. Our strong Central bank, in its current form was finally inaugurated on April 1, 1935-rest is history; the way as an apex institution, it has been playing key roles in country’s economic and financial advanceness is indeed a great accomplishment-it’s hardly astonishing today, that it placed among the top Central banks of the world.

Atul Kumar Thakur
Februray21st 2010, New Delhi

Survival: New Buzzword in Mutual Fund Industry

The recent regulatory ruling by the Stock Exchange Board of India {SEBI} of scrapping distribution fee from equity schemes has multiplied the adversity of smaller fund houses. Enforcement of this practices are now shaping the investors temptation in completely new direction as cost and quality conscious investors now increasingly contemplating both the brand name and long-term performance of the fund house before investment.
In the first sight, nothing seems wrong albeit a slight inquisition of Indian fund businesses would reveal the actual stark reality of smaller fund houses-their's plight haunted me when I got interacted with the national sales head of a small fund house, he had shared with me in heavy down sound about his inability to cope with current approaching challenges in the wake of new regulatory challenges.Impact of present regulatory challenges grew sharper since it proposed at a transitory time-Recession was just over and Insurance sector too started posing some unique challenges before Mutual fund business despite their severe variance in business basics.

Although, banks are indeed remains major supporter for fund houses both in implicit and explicit way-investment in Mutual funds allows more liquidity than an investment in Bank’s fixed deposit besides saving and current account gives negative real return; apart from that banks at large emerged in a capacity of solid investor in these fund houses that enhances both the liquidity and consistency of funds. So, overall bank provides an utmost imperative channelization of capital that indeed plays a catalyst role in shaping the fortune of a fund house. But these advantages have asymmetrical binding over the different segment of Mutual funds hierarchy-where big brands, such as UTI, Reliance, ICICI, Birla Sun life, HDFC ,Franklin Templeton, Fidelity could be counted as top beneficiaries, on the other hand even urban elite fund like-Canara Robeco, Taurus, Sahara, Principle etc are hardly getting able to tap same opportunities.

Indian Mutual fund business is going through very swift changes that resoluteness being visible after more than three decades of UTI monopoly; in changed scenario, Avant-garde of foreign fund business like, T.Rowe.Price, Nomura, BNP Paribas etc are now foraying through distinct route of joint venture to penetrate in resilient and happening Indian market. Although in absolute terms, these foreign fund houses are hardly posing any challenges before entire Indian Mutual fund industry in similar way- Morgan Stanley, an early entrant in 1990’s, today stand with Asset Under Management {AUM} of worth Rs2, 300 crore which while Reliance despite making late voyage in fund management industry recorded an exponential growth with huge Asset Under Management of Rs 1, 17,249 crore. Today nine of top ten fund houses hail from established brand and particularly from Indian business-data reveals that the market share of the top five fund houses in the country have increased from about 50% in 2007 to more than 56%by January 2010; Moreover the top fund houses of the country accounts a market share of about 80% vis-à-vis 73% in 2007. These proportion are combined of both corporate and retail investment-in retail segment, 75% of investment goes to the top ten players {Source-AMFI}; strikingly this proportion is more aggressive in Debt-Corporate money where 93% goes to the top ten fund houses. These ground realities are hardly inclusive in nature as merely size of fund house becoming a deciding factor than overall performances that creating haunting challenges before smaller fund houses including of transparency.

The real worrisome trend that appearing is the diminishing value of performance as paradigm; the remaining two rudimentary indicator-brand and distribution are now becoming catalyst manipulator that making difficult for small fund houses to compete in respect of their strong peers on distribution and brand management front. Fund selections and entire investment process are obviously shaping through the management credentials and scale economics-despite such uneven scenario-in 2009, Indian Mutual funds business had reached to the accumulated height of Assets under Management {AUM} of worth Rs,8,00,000 crore. Indeed it’s a healthy growth even when thin pace of inflow into equity Mutual funds during recession and impressive profit booking by the investors, the performance of equity schemes stood out last year that strengthened the sentiment in broader terms. But statistical indications alone shouldn’t be conceived as a matter of complacency, because development would touch to zenith only when it let allowed its components a fair chance for their deserving stakes otherwise data’s would remain only the roaming spaces of financial experts. SEBI must come forward with some new regulation to address the pressing plights of small fund houses , larger pool of distributors and of course of low end investors beside pushing fund business to Indian rural hinterlands.
Atul Kumar Thakur
February20th 2010, New Delhi

Howard Zinn: Remembering a Peoples Historian

Howard Zinn was born in New York City on August24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants-Edward Zinn a waiter and Jennie {Robvilnowitz} Zinn, a housewife. He attended New York public school and was working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard at assistant level when he met Roslyn Shechter-before marrying her in October 1944, he joined the Army Air Corps; she died in 2008 after a long supportive stint.
Passing away of this Boston University historian and political activist is a big blow in academic as well as in intellectual circle; he was aged of eighty-seven year and had made significant contribution to the discipline of historiography.

This peace seeking public moralist had to go through odd jobs like-bombardier during World War II for mere sustenance. Even that conditional job fetched him Air Medal and the rank of Second Lieutenant; post war, he worked at a series of menial jobs until entering New York University on the GI Bill at the age of twenty seven. Even he did night shifts in a warehouse loading trucks to sustain his studies; through such hard maneuverings, he received his bachelor’s degree from New York University, followed by Master’s and Doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.
After that he joined Spellman College in Atlanta in 1966. He made amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture with his great involvement in civil rights movement and the antiwar movement that hugely changed the perspectives and understanding of a large number of masses. His finest work “A Peoples History of the United States {1980]”brought tectonic shift to the temptations of a generation to rethink the nations past.

Vietnam War was his centre focus; he vigorously displayed his intellectual energy to form an alternative views about the U.S.A’s unjust aggression-his two work stood in this direction, “The Logic of Withdrawal {1967}” and “Disobedience and Democracy {1968}”. His works, such as “La Guardia in Congress {1959} which had also won the American Association’s Albert J Beveridge Prize; “SNCC: The New Abolitionist{1964}”; “The Southern Mystique{1964}”; “New Deal Thought{1966}” etc had strengthened the alternative voice in American land.
He wasn’t bonded merely with the state of objectivity which he materialized in his autobiography-”You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train {1994}”-in 1997, Dr Zinn’s writing was used in a popular film named “Good WILL Hunting”; probably that was his last compromise in his life. Howard Zinn was a key progenitor of change in orthodox history writing in U.S.A; he remarkably sustained his honest commitment for history from people’s point of view. World at large would miss him while pushing any discourse from peoples front and for the sake of humanity.
Atul Kumar Thakur
February19th2010, New Delhi

Tribute to Doyens: K.N.Raj & M.S.Rajan

#.K.N.RAJ: An era came to end when developmental economist, teacher and one of the architects of Indian plan edifice, passed away at the age of eighty six. Born in Thrissur on May 13, 1924; this outstanding economist had obtained his PhD from London School of Economics{LSE}under the guidance of Harold Laski-former President of India, Let K.R.Narayanan was his contemporary fellow at LSE. As a key economic policy strategist, he spent almost half of his working life outside the Kerala-he initiated his first professional stint as an economist with Planning Commission at the age of twenty six which he later left to join the Delhi University {Delhi School of Economics} in the company of Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati, Sukhmoy Chakravarty etc. Those were the golden days of economics studies in Delhi University although later he left the university in the wake of communal spread in student politics.

K.N.Raj as an economist was active since first five year plan as he was among the natural choice of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Lal Nehru albeit came in light through IInd plan in which he left his great marks with Prashant Chandra Mahalnobis. He remained economic adviser of Prime Minister-from J.L.Nehru to P.V.Narasima Rao but after mid sixties he largely focused on the affairs of Center for Development Studies {CDS} which he founded through the architectural support of Laurie Baker and financial support of than the Chief Minister of Kerala, C.M.Achuta Menon. He had credit to groom a generation of economists as a maker of DSE and CDS-both were once the most exciting centre for the study of economics in India. This man had credit to come out with the “Kerala Model” which later became synonymous with humane development model and a big source of economic programming for international agencies including of United Nations. K.N.Raj will be always remembered as a selfless man, outstanding economist, excellent teacher, institutional builder, great Mentor of young people and visionary policy maker.

#.M.S.Rajan: Professor M.S.Rajan, doyen of International Relation had last breathed weeks ago at the age of eighty nine-shifted to Delhi after receiving a Post Graduate Degree in history from Mysore University and assisted legendary B.S.Rao and Hriday Nath Kunzuru in building up the Indian Council of World Affairs {ICWA}, so committed an institutanalist that he even left his doctoral studies at Columbia University without any frills and joined the Sapru House Project. Later he joined School of International Studies {JNU} when it was established and later became its Director. Under his iconic stature, generations of scholars have groomed in the International Relations studies; he was finest teacher of his subject and a very tall Mentor to the persons of Foreign Service, academics and media. He penned twenty eight books {authored and edited} and hundreds of articles in various Journals and newspapers-he kept writing till very late from his chamber in Jawaharlal Nehru University {JNU}. Rajan as an expert of International Studies strongly spread the Indian view point across the length and width of the world. He would be always remembered for his great service to the nation.

Atul Kumar Thakur
February 19th 2010, New Delhi

J.D.Salinger: Literaturer in Reclusion

Jerome David Salinger aged ninety-one was passed away on January28th 2010 amidst his dearest reclusive surroundings at hill in the Cornish, New Hampshire; he conquered till last his earnest dream to live in the woods with a fireplace, a typewriter and pieces of notes hooked on the familiar wall. That unusual creative affair remained in consistent pace through slightly sigh indulgence with the rest of world, creation of his affair was indeed very special since mysticism produced through such dwelling were the stout region of mass interest in his life and brilliant work.
His sharp touch with his own conceived world enabled him to fetch great respect from readers across the world-even with slim creative production, Salinger leaves a rich legacy, and his meticulous words added an extra shining on American literary space.

J.D.Salinger had a credit to sharpen glamour quotient in his recluse which was as famous as his books and his art albeit his life and creativity was out-rightly contrast from the gloomy world of Hemingway. He could amazingly play with the language besides putting great contents-he became successful in awarding a new lease of class to American literature and later performing as source of inspiration for successive generation.
Canopying Salinger through any typical observation is very hard task for any literary enthusiast as was a real maverick with very rare imitative temptation in his literary and artistic production-in detail inquisition; he slightly resembled the characteristics of two other great contemporary writer-Flaubert and Frantz Kafka who also displayed similarly the originality of conception without indulging too much in roaring worldly affairs.
He had masterly command over crafting stories within stories with well timed incorporation of sentimental wit-he was equally an artist which always entrusted him with great qualities of straight forwardness in his overall creative approaches; he truly lived his art.

His epoch making novel “The Catcher in the Rye” vehemently incorporates a fashioned voice for its protagonist Halden Caulfield that enabled him to proceed an alienated ten years old thoughts and anxieties-voice sounds outright glaring in skeptically appraising the world and denouncing its pseudoness and hypocrisies; his another memorable work “Catcher {1951}”remains one of the books that adolescents first fall in love with, this great work closely articulates what it is to be young and attentive existential-this first awakens them to the broad worlds of literature.
With “Catcher” he abled to start existentialist debate and advanced to the next level with two very daring play-“The Harsh” and “Witty Glare from the Naked Bulb over the Table”. Never been a part of prestigious Ivy League institutions remained a hurting matter for him-this part Jewish, part Irish great man with heavy influences of Vedanta, Zen and Tao philosophy resembled as a true depository of idea and depth.

Although he leaves only four Glass stories novel and nine stories besides some other pieces behind him nevertheless they are awesome and remarkable in catering the specific needs of idea searching book lovers. Non-publication of his idea was sole gratifying things for him, so it could be hardly ruled out that many of his prospective manuscripts may have lies some where in drawers…at personnel level, J.D.Salinger had left the world without being remorseful on such subtle possibilities as he have been accustomed for renunciation of universal spreading of his prolific ideas. Despite short appearances, he deserves to be known as one of crucial image makers of American literature since intellects hardly needs any justification in terms of sheer size.

Atul Kumar Thakur

Februray18th2010, New Delhi

Erich Segal: Loving Evangelist

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”…this crux from best ever selling book” Love Story” depicts the beautiful thinking of its creator-Erich Segal who created history by writing this moving phenomenal novel has recently passed away after storming the heart of millions readers. Very straight forward in his delineate approaches, he succeeded to provide a finest romantic engagement in his classic work. Protagonist Oliver Barrett {junior}, a rich teenager from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law and Jenny Cavilleri, hailing from a modest working class beauty studying music at Radcliffe-rest is magnetism and piousness of relationships.

Despite being a non-believer in bandwagon about the qualities of any best selling stuffs, I induced towards the book by superb inference from its few lines-thanks to rich street book markets of Delhi that provided me this micro book which hardly took my three hours in its complete reading. Simplicity is its best merit and compassion is true charm which impulses its readers to go deep inside rather floating while passing through this magical creation of Erich Segal-indeed he was a skilled magician of words and a soul searcher who never allowed his reader to be a fan instead he always succeeded to make them super fans. So far “Love Story” shook the soul of at least two generation as its appeal is non-bonded with any specific time frame or style, its popularity for sure not going to shade in future as well.

Nostalgic accounts of Ivy League’s culture truly broaden its charm among the university dwellers across the world…what Erich Segal conquered in his creative imagination that the meaning of trust and bond of sharing as divine quotient-more important than anything else in this world.Passing off this loving evangelist is a sad occasion for numberless book lovers and believers of sentiments. He was the champion of opposite realities which he always proved in his prolific writing…his literary contribution deserves from all corner to be remembered as pivotal determinant of consine.

Atul Kumar Thakur
Februray18th2010, New Delhi

SaNiDhya: A Promising Band

Started in the year 2004, during IIT-Delhi musical festival, now SaNiDhya band is gaining acclamation for its stout standing with cause orientation. To produce meaningful music and pursue stubbornness to sustain its qualities level is foremost among the priorities of this band-utter dedication and commitment, of course not the incentive of dough which brings these all versatile artists together despite hailing from amazingly diverse background.
Experiment and innovation lies in the core action of SaNiDhya that always enabled it to produce sound and original creative stuffs-their noble composition for the national song “Vande Matram”{which receives a standing ovation each time whenever its performed}and other experiments with folk music entrusted with rich legacies of Indian terrain strikes the note each time in awesome manners.

My encounter to this energetic and flamboyant musical band happened co-incidentally during the recent Bharat Rang Mahotsava festival of National School of Drama where after an accomplishment of meeting at Mandi House, I received intimation from one of my journalist friend to join the evening with new band performers that is performing very well.
Indeed it was a revelation as I entered the space, it was quite blessing for me to listen a fine fusion of a Maithili folk with some Marathi bit which was vehemently denying the chauvinistic advances of hate politics on the lingual-regional ground. Suddenly I recognized the protagonist of Maithili voice-Pravesh Mallick whose work I have been contemplating since the year 1997 when first saw his performances in my own familiar premises.

For a while, it was surprising for me to see him heading the group of band as earlier witnessing his sound leaning towards classical and folk format nevertheless he seems me equally capable in present format as well with improved Hindi phonetic which is an outcome of his consistent dwelling in Delhi over last seven-eight years.
In his capacity, he carrying the responsibility for the compositions and purity of music; Sudheer and Lalit translate this melody by their voices; Mohammad Fahim adds dramatic element into the singing by his contrast voice and powerful lyrics. Ranzan on the lead guitar brings with him rich experience and charisma; Aniruddh with his classical background and versatility, easily poised to accommodate in diverse roles that of a vocalist, violinist, guitarist etc-Jude with bass guitar lends support and rhythms to the compositions and last the duo Milind and Ramesh form the core of the band with their expertise in percussions.

Indeed the cohesion among these band members reflects their value for bond of sharing among peers and in general. Geographically too they resembles very unique-Pravesh Mallick(he is still pursuing advance studies in music from Delhi University}, Ramesh Mallick,Ranjen and Lalit Kamat are from the Terai region of Nepal and they all are trained at prestigious Gandharva Mahavidyalaya {Delhi}-Aniruddh Som, who is hailing from the great music loving city of Kolkata, did his B.Com from St. Xavier’s college {Kolkata} and presently pursuing diploma in music from Trinity college {London}…hope he will replicate the success story of A.R.Rahman like his choice of academics.
So, the case with other legion of this band-Milind Trivedi, a disciple of Shri Rueban Narayan and catalyst of this band; Mohammad Fahim adds the gravity with his Sufi stuffs; Jude Manuel with a background of mainstream Jazz, the son of late Joseph Manuel-cousin of Harlod Manuel of All India Radio. Ranjen is master guitarist with his great experimentative wit; Sudhir Rikhari-the actor, director from Bela theatre is still learning Hindustani classical vocal from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.

He has done his masters degree in Hindustani classical music from Khairagarh University, recently performed at many places as a lead singer with the world famed, Indian Ocean band…so, with such great pastime, this band is surely deserves relentless success ahead. They have great time ahead, only they have to keep igniting the crucibles of their zeal…because at the end of day, only thing that left to revisit is solid honest practices and nothing else.
Atul Kumar Thakur
February14th2010, New Delhi

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pamariya Folk Dance: On the Brink of Extinction

The land of Mithila has known for its great perseverance of cultural matrix and their interface with the people’s sensible cultural demeanor. There have been existence of a numbers of exuberant folk arts and dances on this land; whose relentless practices among the Maithili folks reflects best the cultural intricacies of Mithila.
Among this fabulous background-a consummate traditional dance called Pamariya is known for its distinct appraisal to auspiciousness in Maithili households. The historicity of Pamariya’s could be traced back from the medieval phase, they are a set of small wandering tribes with Islamic orientation although their acceptance remains quite universal till few decades back but now under the blind wave of modernism this ingredient part of Maithil social order is unfortunately falling towards the brink of extinction.

Once most of Maithili households albeit very few now still have belief to follow the Pamariya dance for the auspicious occasion of new born baby-in symbolic terms, it preaches out the message of unbiased social and religious views of Maithils with vigorous flamboyance.Pamariya’s role in social fabric could be a vital matter of inquiry from social history perspective but in short inquisitions their quintessential convergence in mainstream Maithili social life is truly awesome especially since very few among them have consistent temperament to stay in a particular locality nevertheless some villages of Mithila denotes exception in this regard-village Ranti and Deep are profoundly showcase like the true repository of unusual Pamariya dancers.

The world famed
“Panchkosi” region has specific affiliations with this folk dance as without doubt the locality amazingly leads on cultural front of Mithila; despite even having a substantial urban fabrication in this zone that hardly deterred them to perform the original cultural practices, also comprising with the dance of Pamariya’s.
It’s noticeable that, they are not the peoples of this region who are caused for deterioration of Pamariya folk dance instead the bigger complexity of livelihoods and non-existence of any institutional support that pushing this community towards endangered space…alas! Today the Pamariya’s are compelled to crave for the attention of luminaries and well wishers., if any meticulous and well judged solution couldn’t be placed immediately that this rich tradition would be grasped by the new generations in mere fantasies-nothing more than this.

The very uniqueness of Pamariya musical dances are lied in their distinct presentation-self made micro musical paraphernalia’s and a small team combination is quite suffice for them to mark their advances in foretelling the many legendary myths in musical compositions; they are unparalleled entertainers in their domains.
Pamariya community is equally known for its decent behave and ethical integrity-these networked groups never bonded with the sole audacious motivation of riches, rather their art truly woven with the unbiased practices on many counts, such as gender, religion etc. In their specific qualities, a close observation could designate their works on a fine position in the very special affair of culture-for the time being it’s quite imperative to give those accolades for their great deeds in the cultural fabrics of Mithila.

Indeed some good pieces of works-both in visual and print medium can redeem the falling fortune of Pamariya artists; like many other fronts, it’s a irony that cultural communities have been also visualized through ceremonial attitude that hampering them viciously. For sure, Pamariya’s are one among the sufferers of modern times which still waiting for an all round genuine re-looking and financial support…a chunk of new generation is rising to retrieve the glories of Pamariya’s and other Maithili folk dances…hope to see some positive notes on their plight in near future. After all these auspicious artists utmost deserves to cheer in their life and to remain as ingredient as ever before in Maithil social and cultural life.
Atul Kumar Thakur
February13th 2010, New Delhi