Can insurance help musicians? Yes, says Shubha Mudgal (IANS Interview)

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Insurance would serve as a tremendous leg-up in ensuring that young artistes take up music as a stable profession, says noted Hindustani classical singer Shubha Mudgal.

“Younger people are committed to music but the issue is how to make it a full-time profession for them.

“As a society we need to be around for them and know what makes them happy. Not just the accolades, the artiste must also feel wanted in other ways. For example, where is the effort to provide medical insurance to the artistes?” Mudgal asked while speaking to IANS.

“People working in other organisations have medical insurance, but a lot of musicians in India may not have any medical insurance. Also, when we are on stage, are we provided any sureties? I think those are the areas which need to be looked into,” she said.

Then, while the soulful sitar and sarangi mesmerise all of us, there seems to be a systemic apathy by insurance companies in giving due recognition to these acoustic Indian instruments, said Mudgal.

“We don’t have a system where we can insure acoustic Indian instruments. If I want to insure my keyboard, it will be done. But if I want to insure my tanpura, it can’t be. I cannot do anything about it as I don’t belong to the insurance sector. I don’t have a voice there,” Mudgal said.

“How are we going to ensure that every sitar, tabla, sarangi and other acoustic instruments gets due recognition and how the artisans who make them get properly looked after?” the singer wondered.

According to Mudgal, even though there has been a rise in the number of music festivals in the last 100 years, it’s not easy for the younger artistes.

In this context she referred to the need to ensure that music becomes a stable profession for the young artistes who are committed to the art.

Mudgal was be conferred the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award — on the late prime minister’s birth anniversary August 20 — for her outstanding contribution towards promoting communal harmony, peace and goodwill.

Referring to the award, she said: “It’s always very reassuring to get an award. When I look at the list of former recipients of this award, I am quite humbled as they are the people I have greatly respected and always looked up to. I wonder whether I am qualified enough as people like Lataji, Bismillah Khan sahab and Amjad Ali Khan sahab who have received it earlier”.

The singer has been selected as the curator of the performing arts section for the Serendipity Arts Festival, organised by the Serendipity Arts Trust between December 16 and 23 in Panaji.

Musicians, dancers, theatre artistes, craftsmen and culinary experts will come together for the week-long festival.

“Normally, festivals look at one aspect of art. Let’s say things like visual art, craft, dance and photography. For music, we have separate festivals of various classical schools. Serendipity is an important space because it brings a variety of arts together,” she said.

“It will give the curators, performers and to those who experience it a chance to interact with various disciplines. This inter-disciplinary nature is a unique aspect of the festival,” she noted.

On the concept of different genres coming together, Mudgal said: “I appreciate it each time I am exposed to a new area. I may not pursue it for a very long time but the introduction or a handshake is very important.

“Rock and contemporary music are not my areas of specialisation but I work with a lot of people involved in electronic dance music and other popular music,” Mudgal concluded.

(Mudita Girotra can be contacted at



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