Where the Mind is Still in Fear

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”

The vision of a free India, a better India, drove the pioneers of our freedom struggle to leave no stone unturned in an attempt to see their dream fulfilled. The world was wrought in chaos when India came up with an idea that no one had ever tried successfully before: Non-violence. Our ancestors did all they could, went far and wide, to ensure us the free world that we live in today. On our 70th Independence Day, when most of those who fought for the world that we live in today is gone, it won’t do good to count what all is still wrong with our society.

It doesn’t do justice to those who liberated this country if we look at all the physical factors troubling this nation. The problem runs deeper. The problem lies in the fact that the generation of today knows not what the price of freedom is. While we are free under the law, our society still remains a slave to its thoughts.

The Chaos that Plagues Us

The problem is not with the external factors controlled by the economy or government policies. The issue lies with our understanding of this nation. To begin with, there is the casteism that breaks us up into unrelated sections rather than a united India. 70 years since that glorious victory over foreign suppression and yet we fail to see each other as brothers and sisters. It matters not what we make kids chant as a pledge in school assemblies every day. The ground reality is that we are divided mentally. We hear a name and we put characteristics on it. We accept or reject people based on an identity that they have no control over. You can find unity in Indians who are living abroad. For it is when they leave their homeland, do they understand its true value.

We have once again become a society divided into many factions despite having united for a common cause once. The 70 years since 1947 have taken a toll on our memories. But this is not all. For not only are we divided as people, we are divided as individuals as well. For a land that gave birth to philosophies like “Satyameva Jayate,” we are now in a very sorry state. The values of peace, harmony, and compassion, that have filled our history, now stand in an endangered situation. Greed has taken over our hearts. Evil rules our hearts and minds.

Going Back to Move Forward

Our history is tainted by its fair share of cruelty as well, but there also lies the bravery of those who chose to stand up to these things. The freedom struggle is only one example of that will to shape a better future for this great nation. Visionaries like Raja Ram Mohan Roy ended age old vicious practices that threatened the very existence of this society. When we look at all these tales of bravery and revolution, one common theme to be found is the inability for any new idea to stay in place unless it was successfully established in the minds of the masses. For Mahatma Gandhi, it was instilling unity. For King Ashoka, it was a respect for life and compassion. The list goes on but the fact remains that change needs to be brought from the inside.

No account of a change forced upon people by laws that lived on till date can be found anywhere. India is the birthplace of many religions that are known for their peaceful and benevolent teachings. Our folklore, no matter which region it comes from, talks about values important to the sustenance of humanity. May be rather than looking for answers in the history of foreign lands, what we need is a deep study of our own culture.

Building a Better Future

The future of a society lies in the hands of its youth, is what most people agree to. However, this completely disregards the importance of all the other age groups that shape this world every day. The youth is important in terms of taking things forward but those who teach them are even more essential to this process. What this country needs, more than anything else, is rational thinking. This coupled with morality in character can lead us into a future where we rise as a super power, not in terms of financial figures but as an enlightened society.

What is also important is that we stay true to our identity. The identity of an Indian, for a nation that strays away from itself, is sure to fall. While imbibing the virtues of foreign cultures in today’s globalized world is essential to our survival, this makes protecting our own beliefs even more necessary. Only when we open our minds and hearts can we be led to the world,

“Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”


Cross-cultural influences in Indian music

Music has been prevalent in the Indian subcontinent for millennia and is a big part of India’s heritage. Indian music practices date back to the Vedic times (3000 B.C.), with references in Rigpratishakhya, which explains the phonetic aspects of the Rigveda, Samaveda(contains the seven notes of the raga) and Natya Shastra, which elaborates on the octave system. From the ancient Sanskrit notations to the modern Sa Re Ga Ma, Indian music has imbibed various techniques and practices to become what it is today: flawless.




To understand how modern Indian music came to be, we have to understand what it was. Besides entertainment, music was used as a form of communication between the human and the divine. Ceremonies were celebrated by chanting verses in a repetitive fashion with minor vocal and instrumental improvisations or Alap. Several forms of music were common, like Samgana, Jatigan and Prabandh Sangeet. While all of them were based in Sanskrit, a form of music called Dhruvapada, hailed during the Gupta period, used Hindi as a medium. Dhruvapada is the Indian music form that paved way for the development of the Indian classical music we listen to today.



Indian music has over 4 million ragas or melodies that can be roughly categorized into Hindustani music and Carnatic music, which are majorly received in the northern and southern regions respectively.

Hindustani music acquires a lot of its embellishments from Tibetan and Persian music cultures. It relies on vocal and instrumental improvisations with idiom-based lyrics set in a loop.

Carnatic music is more lyric-based and follows the traditional octave pattern.

While both styles arose from the same form of classical music, Carnatic style is more in touch with its roots while Hindustani style has imbibed multiple folk tunes and regional melodies.

Sufi style music has had a great impact on Indian music. It has contributed to the Indian classical culture and has been prevalent since the Islamic era (9th century). Amir Khusrau has enhanced Indian classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic features in it. He is also known as the “father of Qawwali”.



Connectivity is a major factor in encouraging fusion techniques in music. Indian music has had a major reformation in the last score because of networking and media. Ease of access to creative collaborations among people from different forms of life has led to new ideas and genres. Entities like TEDxDharamshala have promoted and celebrated these ideas time and again and have enhanced the musical creativity of this generation. Examples of such collaborations include Coke Studio, The Dewarists, MTV Unplugged and many more. Contrary to popular belief, social conformity is not a bad thing if it leads to wondrous and creative music. Accepting opinions and opening our minds to new possibilities is what its all about!

Here is a list of famous collaboration you may have heard of:


Indian music is praised as one of the most versatile and innovative cultures all over the world. That’s because, when it comes to music, we are intricate, observant and adaptable. In a population of 1.3 billion, there are musicians who are jointly working on almost every style of music. In India, music is not a profession. It is a way of life.



Author: Amish Mathur

Feature Image: Michael Tompsett