Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Folk Music: A Source of Livelihood for Indigenous People in Bengal


A Research Proposal on
 By: Biswendu Nanda

Table of Content
Summary
1.      Introduction

a.       Background Information
b.      Problem Statement
c.       Rational of the study

2.      Research Objectives

3.      Literature Review

4.      Methodology

5.      Expected Research contribution

References
 Summary
Today, the creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in the world economy, and provide new opportunities for developing countries to leapfrog into emerging high-growth areas of the world economy.[1]
In today’s world where human development is considered the most important part of economic development, cultural aspect and cultural industry is the core for the prosperity of people and to empower people as it will enabling them to improve their living standards and quality of life. In Bengal, music has characterised almost all stages of human development. It has been used during birth, initiation, marriage, war and death. Here forth, music plays an important role in the socio-economic aspect of the indigenous people of Bengal.
However, Music industry in Bengal is grossly underdeveloped because, barring one or two giant companies most of the region's music producers operate through micro-enterprises that are simply not up to the task of promoting local artistes and their music internationally. Hence, there is a need for creating a dynamic, professional network for all those involved in the Bengali music industry in order to initiate collaborative ventures and identify cooperative marketing and distribution strategies to promote indigenous musicians. The main focus should be on creating an environment where indigenous music will be economically rewarding to the indigenous artists and indigenous people involved in the creative music industry.





1.      Introduction
a.      Background Information:

Bengal is generally categorized as an adventure destination in the West, but our art and culture are also very important.[2]
Bengal is a country rich in terms of cultural diversity, with more than one hundred ethnic and caste groups. According to the Ethnographic researchers, ethnic groups are those “who have their own mother tongue and traditional customs, a distinct cultural identity, a distinct social structure and written or oral history all of their own"

The intangible cultural heritage which includes performing arts- music, dance, theatre, represents social practices and indigenous people’s way of life. Bengali people regard music as indispensable in every ceremony and rite of passage, from birth to death -and even after death, during funeral rituals and annual ceremonies to remember deceased ancestors. There are a variety of songs, dances, and plays performed in different parts of the country by different communities. Each performance creates a unique identity for a particular folk group, and it serves to reaffirm group identity within the wider Bengalese caste/ethnic group.

Indigenous music is an important part of Indigenous culture. Besides intangible heritage, tangible heritage –the traditional arts and crafts which are used for musical performances are
also a good source of income generation like the Gandharvas who make sarangi "the fiddles" and Badis who make the madal "the drum". Bengal also has a large number of folk musical instruments (527 kinds), some of which have been collected sporadiously at various Museums of Bengal.

Dissemination of folk songs via disc records began in the early 1930s. Later after the establishment of AAkashVani(All India Radio - AIR), folk songs were widely disseminated, which resulted in mass demand for cassettes and CDs of Bengali folksongs. Throughout the second half of the last century, government, semi-government and civil society organizations have popularized Bengalese folksongs and folk dances by awarding the creators and tradition bearers (often through competitions).

Different organization like Ministry of Culture, Tourism; The Department of Archaeology; Bengali Folklore Society are working for the preservation and promotion of folk performing arts. Besides these major organizations there are various community based cultural centers or organizations scattered across the country, which are also playing a vital role in safeguarding and promoting folk performing arts.

Artists and bands like Bhumi, Cactus, Udaan and some other artists have found indigenous music as the basis of their livelihood and income generation. They have also been profoundly popularizing indigenous Bengali music among Bengali youth and people worldwide. They have been struggling hard to preserve and promote the indigenous music and cultural heritage of Bengal.

b.      Problem statement
Indigenous music has suffered much neglect in recent years even though many institutions and organizations have been working for the preservation and promotion of Folklore in Bengal. Many folk instruments are in the verge of extinction. In the other hand, globalization has steadily been dislocating our indigenous-folk glory faster than ever. Lack of knowledge on our traditional music has led most of the youths attracted towards the western music. Hence, western music is affecting the popularity of traditional Bengalese music and instruments. In this scenario, Bengali music industry has been struggled to represent, develop and promote its own music. A great challenge lies in creating awareness amongst the consumers.
In spite of the importance of music in Bengali life, the musicians themselves have always held a lowly position in society, regarded as Dalit or untouchable by most people in higher castes. Due to their lowly position, musicians were usually uneducated and music and lyrics rarely written down. Melodies, lyrics, dance steps and instrument-making techniques were, until recently, passed down through the generations from father to son in an unbroken chain.
Most Bengali folk songs are inspired by the gaines. With them lies the genesis of Bengali folklore, song and music as we know it today. The modern folk genre is commercially successful but its proponents are predominantly upper caste and some crème lair of the indegenous communities. While neo-gaines gain nationwide popularity and become wealthy celebrities, the gaines are neglected and on the verge of extinction. This situation has helped folk music to aspire within the nation and worldwide. However, the one’s whose livelihood depends on music are ignored and marginalized instead of being in the mainstream of folk music development. Hence, many indigenous people who depended on music for their livelihood are now forced to look for other means of livelihood.

c.      Rationale of the study
There are mainly two reasons for the study of folk music. First of all folk music represents the country. Folk music is music which originates in and is handed down by oral tradition amongst common people. For Indigenous culture, music and song are central to identity, place and belonging, and are an expression of a unique and continuing tradition. Indigenous music has an important place in the transmission and survival of Indigenous cultures. In this regard music culture becomes one of the major tourism products since culture is one of the main attractions for tourists.
Through the culture of music, folk musicians can represent the country worldwide and attract more and more tourist by showing the authenticity of the country and representing the people of Bengal in general. The revival of music will also help re-awaken the cultural consciousness among the Bengali people.
Secondly, music is not just a part of culture but also a means of livelihood and income generating source for many indigenous people. Music in itself is a thriving industry. Music contributes to the cultural industry which if allowed to develop can make a significant contribution to economic development and social integration without neglecting the human development aspect.
Hence, despite the apathy to indigenous music, we are yet to explore indigenous musicians’ creative capacity and to market the traditional musicians internationally. The need for today is not just to preserve and promote folk music but also to create an environment where folk music will be economically rewarding to the indigenous artists and indigenous people in the music industry.

2.      Research Objectives

i.         To find out the impact of folk music in indigenous people’s livelihood and well-being.
ii.       To find out measures to strengthen and maximize the opportunities available for improving livelihood for indigenous people.
iii.      To identify some of the broader lessons regarding mainstreaming and sustainable development of folk/indigenous knowledge and skills.

3.      Literature Review
This chapter gives the researcher an idea about the problem and what others have done in the past in order to guide the researcher on how to proceed to investigate the problem. The sources of the literature review includes- the textbooks, Journals, and other relevant sources.

Culture should be seen as central to any form of development in the pursuit of economic prosperity and national unity. Meaningful and sustainable development must emanate from the culture of the people. The protection, development and promotion of culture, therefore, are imperative responsibilities of the government. From the perspective of culture and poverty programs, culture is defined as inclusive of creative expression, skills, traditional knowledge and cultural resources that form part of the lives of peoples and societies, serving as bases for social engagement and enterprise development. (Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010). According to Throsby, the first attempt to extend the idea of sustainability to culture was in the World omission for culture and Development (WCCD) report, Our Creative Diversity (1995)
Professor Andy Arthurs (Queensland University of Technology) Inverting the Pyramid – investing in our creative music makers: A perspective on creative industries’ impact on our musical live;2007.
The British Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) defines the creative industries as: “[t]hose industries that are based on individual creativity, skill and talent. They are also those that have the potential to create wealth and jobs through developing intellectual property. This includes advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film and video, interactive leisure software, music, the performing arts, publishing, software, computer and video games, television and radio.”
The report shows that creativity is a key driver of the 21st century, economically, industrially, and socially. Besides that music, in all its forms, is the backbone of the creative industry. The report find out that there is a need to promote creative enterpreneurship as an important quality that needs to be further developed in musicians ( and all artists) of the future. 
Most musicians have few financial safety nets and find themselves living the creative industries ethos daily. Thus have to ensure that they connect with performaers and audiences in various modes and medis by using ideas that have cultural relevance. This, put another way, means creating music that is relevant to our culture, be that with a home-grown product, or one that is value-added from elsewhere.
Australian Council for the Arts, Protocols for producing Indigenous Australian Music, 2nd edition ,2007.
The protocol guides endorse Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights – the rights of Indigenous people to own and control their cultural heritage. These rights are confirmed in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,which says Indigenous people have the right to practice and revitalise their cultural traditions and customs.

Indigenous music is a voice that crosses boundaries. It is the true voice of this country because it is linked to the land. It enriches this nation, and shows the nation’s true identity (David Milroy).

Indigenous music is an important part of Indigenous culture. Music is about expressing cultural belonging. It is part of ceremony, storytelling, celebration, mourning, coming together and telling of events in Indigenous people’s lives, both past and present. For Indigenous cultures music and song are central to identity, place and belonging, and are an expression of a unique and continuing tradition.

Indigenous Australians are concerned that there is no respect for their Indigenous cultural knowledge, stories and other cultural expression in the wider Australian cultural landscape. Concerns include the current legal framework that does not promote or protect the rights of Indigenous people – particularly to own and control representation and dissemination of their stories, knowledge and other cultural expression.

S.Rengasamy-Introducion to livelihood Approach; Introduction to Livelihood Promotion-Madurai Institute of Social Sciences.

The livelihood of a household or individual can be interpreted as their ‘means of living’. A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base' (Chambers, R. and G. Conway, 1992).

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) differentiates between a job and a livelihood, which are often used interchangeably.

"A job connotes one particular activity or trade that is performed in exchange for payment. It is also a formal agreement, as manifested by a contract, between an employer and
employee...... . A job can, however, comprise part of an overall livelihood, but does so only to complement other aspects of a livelihood portfolio.

"A livelihood, on the other hand, is engagement in a number of activities which, at times, neither require a formal agreement nor are limited to a particular trade. Livelihoods may or may not involve money. Jobs invariably do. Livelihoods are self-directing. .... . Livelihoods are based on income derived from "jobs", but also on incomes derived from assets and entitlements. ""a means of living or of supporting life and meeting individual and community needs"
The primary reason to promote livelihoods is the belief in the essential right of all human beings to equal opportunity. Poor people do not have life choices nor do they have opportunities. Ensuring that a poor household has a stable livelihood will substantially increase its income, and over a period of time, asset ownership, self-esteem and social participation. The second reason for livelihood promotion is to promote economic growth. The third reason for promoting livelihoods is to ensure social and political stability. When people are hungry, they tend to take to violence, crime.

Meic Llewellyn & Norma Blackstock., A taste of traditional Bengali music, Wrexham Peace & Justice News, oct – dec,  2008

Bengali people regard music as indispensable in every ceremony and rite of passage, from birth to death - and even after death, during funeral rituals and annual ceremonies to remember deceased ancestors. But in spite of the importance of music in Bengali life, the musicians themselves have always held a lowly position in society, regarded as Dalit or untouchable by most people in higher castes.

Due to their lowly position, musicians were usually uneducated and music and lyrics rarely written down. Melodies, lyrics, dance steps and instrument-making techniques were, until recently, passed down through the generations from father to son in an unbroken chain.

Morris Hargreaves McIntyre., Impact of Folk Festivals on Cultural Tourism, January 2003

Folk is no longer, if it ever was, a minority music. This report celebrates its position as an historic part of our national heritage, a hobby, a passion, an industry and clearly a source of entertainment for thousands of people.

Festivals have a remarkable ability to retain tourism visitors and win their loyalty. Unlike much investment in tourism, investment in folk festivals results in almost guaranteed repeat business. Folk music and folk festivals are key to the socio-economic and cultural life of our communities.

There is a lot of debate on the sustainable livelihood approach. The U.K. government agency, the Department for International Development (DFID), has the most notable debate on dealing with the sustainable livelihood approach. Sustainable livelihood Approach (SLA) is centred on people and their livelihood by looking and prioritizing people’s assets ( tangible and intangible), their ability to withstand shocks ( the vulnerability context), and policies and institutions that reflect poor people’s priorities rather than those of the elite ( Sustainable Livelihood Approaches: www. Livelihoods.org/SLdefn.html). Within their SL guidance sheets, DFID, U.K. (1999) has clearly presented main factors that affect people’s livelihoods and the typical relationship. The DFID sees that livelihood is the means by which households obtain and maintain access to the resources necessary to ensure their immediate and long-term survival. This framework and concept of SL development is central to strategies for rural poverty reduction.

4.      Methodology
The methodologies that can be used while doing the study would be individual/ group interview or in-depth interview with folk artists, promoters, folk development agencies, music museum personnel, media, local communities and so on. More specifically, as this study is not so much about music per se and more on the livelihood of indigenous people supported by the music, the methodology used would be related to DFID’s livelihood perspective approach. This methodology focuses on the individual household and seeks to understand the various capabilities available to the household (defined as human, social, financial, natural and physical capital) to form a means of living (known as a livelihood strategy).
Besides this, techniques such as Participatory Rural Appraisal and Rapid Rural Appraisal along with observation, case studies of people contributing to folk music, focused group discussion etc will also be used for this study.

5. Expected Research contribution
Indigenous people’s contribution in Folk music and music industry will be recognized. Better understanding of how indigenous music contributes to sustainable livelihood will help mainstreaming indigenous people in the music industry while considering folk music. Such type of development would be people-centred based on self-reliance and preservation of culture.
Besides Indigenous wellbeing, new markets and business opportunities will be generated by promoting the folk music, instruments and musicians. In this way cultural products can be successfully developed, marketed and packaged to benefit the creative industry and economy as a whole. This will result in better understanding of the opportunities for mainstreaming cultural activities for economic development.
The overall result would enable the environment to attract non-indigenous domestic and international audiences which will further develop the prospect of tourism and affect the local livelihood of the indigenous people. Such a positive milieu will facilitate preservation and conservation of the indigenous people’s culture. The study will also show how music contributes to poverty reduction and help marginalized people and most overlooked groups of artisans in Bengal to improve their livelihood. Through music, this paper will help identify wide range of opportunities and choices that indigenous people have in order to pursue their livelihood goals.
References
Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO
Available at: http://www.accu.or.jp/ich/en/policies/C_NPL.html
Australian Council for the Arts, Protocols for producing Indigenous Australian Music, 2nd edition ,2007.Available at: www.australiacouncil.gov.au
Creative Economy, the challenge of assessing the creative economy: towards informed policy-making; UNDP,UNCTAD, 2008
Data Base on Traditional/Folk performing arts in Asia and Pacific- A basic Model;
Available at: http://www.accu.or.jp/ich/en/data/C_NPL.html

Gaines are us; The songs of the gaines carry the Bengali soul by NARESH NEWAR
 
Available at: http://community.livejournal.com/everestbuddha/5301.html
Indigenous contemporary music action plan: Towards a stronger Indigenous contemporary music sector; Contemporary Music Development Working Group of the Cultural Ministers Council; 2008.

Leonardo (Don) A.N. Dioko “Packaging” Heritage for Tourism: Modeling the Effects on the Practice and Transmission of Intangible Heritage Institute for Tourism Studies, Macao. Available at: http://ictlconference.googlepages.com/67.Leonardo.Dioko.RP.pdf

Music in Australia Knowledge Base
Available at: http://mcakb.wordpress.com/performance/australian-indigenous-music/
Music to Prevent Poverty-Antonio Abreu By Maria Madrid & Eric Schneider,PNYV! Venezuela
Bengalese Urbanism: A musical Exploration, Ingemar Grandin, Anthropology of Bengal, peoples, problems and processes, Michael Allen, 1994
Bengali music specialists call for conservation of folk music, source Xinhua
Available at: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90782/90874/6530164.html

BENGAL: Bengali youngsters in love with traditional music http://beacononline.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/Bengal-Bengali-youngsters-in-love-with-traditional-music/

Prof. Tulasi Diwasa Prof. Chura Mani Bandhu Mr. Bhim Bengal;The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Bengal: Future Directions, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,2007

Professor Andy Arthurs (Queensland University of Technology) Inverting the Pyramid – investing in our creative music makers: A perspective on creative industries’ impact on our musical live;2007.
State of India’s Livelihoods: The 4 Report; edited by Dr. Sankar Datta, Vipin Sharma; ACCESS Development Services 2008 Available at: http://www.microfinanceindia.org/download_reports/the_soil%20report_2008.pdf

Sustainable Livelihoods: Lessons from early experience; Caroline Ashley and Diana Carney, DFID; Available at: http://www.eldis.org/vfile/upload/1/document/0902/DOC7388.pdf


Tapping into musical heritage to create a livelihood for rural Angola http://www.powerofculture.nl/uk/current/2004/february/tsikaya.html
The Impact of Folk Festival, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, march 2004
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development http://www.unctad.org/Templates/StartPage.asp?intItemID=4577&lang=1



[1] United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: UNCTADE has been proactive in promoting international action in the area of the creative industries, and emphasizing their development dimension. The creative industries are at the crossroads of the arts, culture, business and technology. All these activities are intensive in creative skills and can generate income through trade and intellectual property rights.


[2] Director of Nepal Tourism Board, Nandini Lahe Thapa spoke at the press meet organized at Nepal Tourism Board at Exhibition Road on 25th may 2008. The organization supported Sukarma’s concert as they felt that there will be a lot of publicity for Nepal and that tourism will be promoted.
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