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Sunday, May 24, 2009

India Must Love Mukul Shivaputra Back To Health

During the empty cacophony of the Indian elections comes a story of infinite sadness.

Mukul Shivaputra, the 52 year old son of the late legendary Kumar Gandharva and sublime Hindusthani vocalist in his own right appears to have a serious problem with alcohol and was "spotted sitting on the road outside a temple begging for money so that he could buy his next drink."

The report makes it clear that Shri Shivaputra does not enjoy the sympathies of his family and will probably become a ward of the tender mercies of the Madhya Pradesh Government.

Of course the MP government is due our gratitude for stepping in to remove Shir Shivaputra from the streets. But the larger issue is whether Indian society is anywhere near being adequately equipped to help victims of alcholism and other substance abuse.

The fact is, there are few instances where the brazen predatoriness of the Indian state is as thoroughly exposed as in the manner in which it guzzles vast excise revenues from the sale of alcohol and tobacco but has done next to nothing to support victims of alcohol, nicotine or other addictions.

Given that every single U S dollar contains traces of cocaine and that vast numbers of that manifest role model society and culture are victims of a variety of addictions, the West today has rationally concluded that addictions are diseases. Diseases that can be treated.

In India, our morality appears to have stagnated on the template provided to us by the sanctimoniousness of the medieval Christian missionary.

"Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine makes not drunkenness; but intemperance produces it. Do not accuse that which is the workmanship of God, but accuse the madness of a fellow mortal."[101]

As an "incorrigibly" argumentative child growing up in a house that obsessively pursued music, I was always the lone intense voice on Flute Mali's side. Sure my family adored his music and would go miles to consume it.

But they were helpless and uninsightful about his addiction to alcohol.

While there has been no question about their extraordinary talent and achievement in the various avocations they chose, on the matter of human frailty,or humanness, they had little to offer.

Anita Nair's frankly gawking report on the genius is an example of the kind of imbalance that I am talking about.

But a TM Sivaraman kind of quiet, loving sanity appears to have few buyers in the Indian bazaar.

It is easy to put together an entertaining this or a that reflecting the ridiculousness of the human condition. They serve a purpose and they have a market.

But an artist of the sublime, where in the world will he reach out to, what company will he find?

Even as India braves and conquers the threats of terrorists and stages brilliant IPLs in friendly foreign lands, it has been gifted another very pleasant duty by a very human saint.

It is India's duty to reach out to Mukul Shivaputra and communicate to him that he is a precious jewel of the Indian soul and that we will love him to health.

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