Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vote for ...

Gombhira singer Ashok Chakrabarty and his group perform on a makeshift stage in front of the Malda collectorate on Tuesday. Picture by Surajit Roy

The district of Malda votes today. In an unusual move, gearing up to this event, the Election Commission hired five groups of Gombhira folk singers to create awareness and encourage people to vote for the Lok Sabha elections in Malda. Five groups of Gombhira performers performed in all the 15 blocks of the district, especially in areas which have a record of poor turnout during elections. The budget allocated for these performances - Rs 40000. 

The common refrain sung by the performers was: “Na na Deri Nai Aar Nirbachan/Amra Boothe Giya Vote Diya Korbo Angshogrohon." (The elections are near. We will go to the booths to cast votes and participate).

It has been the practice of the government in the past few decades to use folk artists to create awareness among the rural masses on a variety of subjects. Until we, the privileged, make an attempt to recognise, respect and promote these traditions, our folk artists will have to continue to depend on awareness programmes such as these. 

The Durga Pujas are coming up. Calling all Durga Puja organisers across the state, country and the world, perhaps... What about spending a fraction of the "entertainment" budget on promoting a folk form?

With inputs from :

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