Delving into the world of the mrdangam, Gandhian wisdom for strategy, understanding caste aspects

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New Delhi– Study the intricate art of making mrdangams, the primary percussion instrument of the Karnatik genre of music; learn about how Gandhian concepts can aid the corporate world; and finally, recognise the positive role played by caste as social capital.

As the lockdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic continues, delve into a world of music, corporate strategies and social bonding. This is what the IANS Bookshelf offers you this week. Make the most of it.

1. Book: Sebastian & Sons – A Brief History Of Mrdangam Makers:

Author: T.M. Krishna, Publisher : Context; Pages: 366; Price: 799.

As a practitioner of vocal music, T.M. Krishna has, over the years, met some of the makers of the mrdangam, a cylindrical two-faced drum, the primary percussion instrument used in Karnatik music performances and Bharatanatyam recitals.

“But they were not an integral constituent of Karnatik music’s history or mythology. We knew very little about the people, their lives, struggles or indeed, their creativity and workmanship,” writes Kriahna, whose uncommon rendition of music and original interpretation makes it strong and subtle, manifestly traditional and stunningly innovative.

Thus began a laborious journey into the making of a mrdangam that is intellectually, aesthetically and physically taxing. From acquiring the skins for the circular membranes and straps to sourcing the wood for the drum, curing the material, the final construction, and at the end of it all, making sure it has the required pitch and tone, mrdangam-making is a highly nuanced operation at every stage, the author discovered.

Through 12 chapters based on extensive interviews with, in some cases, third generation practitioners of the craft, Krishna leads the reader into a world that has never been explored before. In this, the book is a valuable addition to the growing literature on Indian classical music.

It�s a work to be treasured.

2. Cut To The Chase – A No-Nonsense Approach Towards Strategy and

Problem-Solving; Author: Siddharth Balakrishna; Publisher: Sage;

Pages: 268; Price: Rs 495.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Happiness is when What you think, What you feel and What you Do are in Harmony.”

What is the lesson in this for today�s corporate world?

“As corporate leaders, we must realise what our people really feel and as corporate workers we must be able to express what we feel and think without the fear of consequences…Are we really in touch with what our people feel? Do we understand their motivations and passion? Do we understand what is behind their seeming assent? Is it genuine support or is it merely hierarchy making people�s feelings and emotions,”

asks, Balakrishna, who has over 15 years of experience in the media and entertainment, AI, energy, infrastructure and education sectors.

“It is very important in corporate life to be able to ‘express oneself’. Most employees curb their natural instincts, passions, motivations and fire to what they feel the company demands. But it is important to find the space to express oneself, especially what motivates or excites you with regard to work.

“The best companies and the best leaders succeed in offering this space to individuals,” Balakrishna writes.

History has shown that the companies that listen are the ones that prosper.

3. Caste as Social Capital – The Complex Place Of Caste In Indian

Society; Author: Prof. R. Vaidyanathan; Publisher: Westland; Pages:

131; Price: Rs 299.

“We have an uncanny ability to be masochistic. But more tragic is our enthusiasm to convert all our strengths to weaknesses since some white men started to abuse Indians for having the caste system. We fail to recognise that it is a valuable social capital, which provides a cushion for individuals and families in dealing with society at large

,and more particularly, in interactions with the State,” writes Vaidyanathan, a two-time Fulbright scholar who retired as Professor of Finance from IIM-Bangalore.

In contrast, the Anglo-Saxon model “of atomising every individual into a single element in a rights-based system and forcing him to have a direct link with the State has produced disastrous effects in the West wherein families have been destroyed and communities have been forgotten”, the author contends.

Conversely, caste has “played an important role in the consolidation of business and entrepreneurship in India particularly in the last seventy years. The economic development that has taken place in India Uninc. or the partnership and proprietorship activities has been financed by domestic savings and facilitated by clusters of caste and community networks”.

Thus, “let is recognise the positive role played by caste as a social capital in the midst of all criticisms of the caste system,” Vaidyanathan concludes.

Considerable food for thought! (IANS)



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