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'Ravi Shankar ignited an interest in the West about India'

December 13, 2012 11:06 IST

Legendary Sitar maestro and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar, who has breathed his last at a hospital in California, ignited an interest in the West about India, an eminent think tank said in Washington as condolence message continued to pour in from across the globe.

"He ignited an interest in the West of India as a great civilisation, and recast that image with a deep respect of the sophistication and complexity of the music while at the same time making it accessible to an uninitiated audience," Rachel Cooper, Asia Society's Director for Global Performing Arts and Special Cultural Initiatives, said.

Noting that it would not be hyperbolic to say that Ravi Shankar had a significant impact on global culture, Cooper said he was fierce in his defence of the integrity of the Indian classical tradition and its authentic voice.

"At the same time, his deep knowledge of the music did not keep him from seeing potential for cross cultural musical encounters and openness to collaboration. His knowledge of the West fuelled a desire, even an obligation, to share his passion for Indian music with the West, whether with classical musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin or rock musicians such as George Harrison and the Beatles," Cooper said.

Shankar, whose health had been fragile for the past several years, underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he breathed his last on Wednesday.

In 2010, Asia Society honoured Shankar with a Cultural Legacy Award.

The former Asia Society president, Vishakha Desai said the passing of the musical genius Ravi Shankar is a giant loss not only to the world of music, but to all those who passionately believe in the power of the arts in creating bonds across national and cultural borders.

"Ravi Shankar led the way for everyone committed to creating cross cultural bonds at the highest level. Long before economic globalisation became the buzz word in the international arena, Ravi Shankar and artists like Yehudi Menuhin and the Beatles, Shankar's frequent collaborators, reminded us that it was possible to create partnerships with parity, and at the highest level of creativity," Desai said.

Mourning the death of legendary sitarist, PETA and PETA India said that Ravi Shankar, along with his daughter Anoushka, starred in ads for PETA promoting stronger animal protection laws and urged KFC to stop the worst abuses of chickens killed for its restaurants.

"To honour Ravi's memory, PETA India hopes the government will act today to pass the draft Animal Welfare Act 2011 and that each person who feels his loss will commemorate his compassion for animals by doing just one kind thing today -- be it offering food to a hungry stray dog or writing to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and asking it to strengthen India's animal protection laws," PETA said.

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