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Central Asia Tour: Narendra Modi aims better connectivity

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Dushanbe (Tajikistan): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India and Central Asia must reconnect – through surface, digital and air connectivity.

“Today I complete my tour of Central Asia. I return to India convinced that India and Central Asia must reconnect. It is important for the future that we seek for our countries and our region,” the prime minister said.

“So, we will improve our surface connectivity, as well as our digital and air connectivity. We will reach you through Iran and other Central Asian countries,” he said and hoped India and Tajikistan can connect directly, “as we once were in history”.

Modi also assured all cooperation to Tajikistan in the field of agriculture.

In his remarks at the Workshop of Agriculture Cooperation in Dushanbe, Modi said India’s agricultural experiences and solutions would be more relevant to Tajikistan than what more advanced nations may have to offer.

“Nothing will give us more joy than the opportunity to share all that we have with our friends. We would be happy to open the doors of our institutions to your scientists and experts,” he said at the event attended by President Emomali Rahmon.

Modi said India was self-sufficient in food grains and one of the major exporters of farm produce and animal products.

“We are the world’s largest producer of milk, one of the top producers of fruits and vegetables and one of the three leading producers of fisheries. Along the way, we have created a resource base that will be of great value to our friends in Tajikistan,” Modi said, addressing an audience of more than 2,000 people.

He said India has world class institutions of research and training in agriculture, dairy and livestock under every possible climatic condition.

“We have developed farming techniques and farm equipment that are affordable and effective. We have created the most successful cooperative movement in dairy and one of the best dairy processing industries in the world.

“We have good seeds and processing technology and equipment. Some of these might be especially useful for cotton farming. And, we have done well with micro irrigation systems.”

He said India has still a lot of challenges in agriculture, but there were many new initiatives to make farms yield more and farmers more prosperous.

He suggested many ways in which India can help Tajikistan in agriculture.

“We can help in increasing the range of crops you produce and the number of crops you get in a year. Greenhouse cultivation is a process that will be well suited for Tajikistan.”

He proposed that India could collaborate in developing hybrids of cotton and wheat, share the experience in contract farming and developing the dairy industry, including dairy processing plants.

Modi proposed that India could work with Tajikistan in water conservation and micro-irrigation, in improving the health of the farm soil, and also using space technology for better resource management.

“India and Tajikistan are strategic partners. This is one of our closest and most important relationships in the region. Our cooperation in agriculture is central to the shared vision and aspirations of India and Tajikistan,” Modi said.

Modi later unveiled a bust of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Dushanbe.

President Rahmon said “India’s success is based on following ideals of great thinkers like Rabindranath Tagore”.

(IANS)

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Know How Grammy Award Winner Inspired by PM Modi to Dedicate Music to Environment

From songs like "Ganga" - depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians - to his Grammy-winning album "Winds of Samara" - which speaks of peace and global harmony

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grammy award winner, modi
"What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment," Kej told IANS in an interview here. Wikimedia

A chance meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015 in New Delhi inspired Bengaluru-based Grammy Award winner Ricky Kej to dedicate his life and music to the cause of environment.

Since then, Kej, who has represented India on global fora, performing at venues including the United Nations General Assembly in New York and UN Headquarters in Geneva, has been using music to flag ecological issues to policymakers and public the world over.

“What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment,” Kej told IANS in an interview here.

From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street.

With the aid of compelling visuals, Kej’s music, and collaborations with global music artists, highlights the deleterious consequences of urbanisation, climate change and human-animal conflict.

modi, grammy award winner
From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street. Wikimedia

“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented.

Kej, 37, bagged Grammy in 2015 for the ‘Best New Age Album’ for “Winds of Samsara”, created along with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman. He is also recognised as the ‘United Nations Global Humanitarian Artist’ for his music with environmental consciousness.

The subjects of Kej’s music include, the rising air pollution in global cities and towns, the perils being posed to wildlife due to urbanisation and the story of Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean off Fiji, whose coasts are receding each year due to rising ocean levels due to global warming, among others.

With 15 studio albums released internationally, 3,500 commercials, three feature films in Kannada and over 100 music awards in 20 countries to his credit, the conservationist-musician’s album “Shanti Samsara” was released by Modi and then French President Francois Hollande at the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP-21) Climate Change Conference in Paris, held from November 30-December 12, 2015.

The album, conceived after his meeting with Modi, had Kej collaborate with about 500 musicians from 40 countries, for songs like “Ganga”, throwing light on the pollution plaguing the river, and on “Earth and Water”.

“Politicians and policymakers are used to statistics and numbers, but when one approaches them through art, it makes a lot of difference. I have seen politicians change their perspectives towards environmental causes after attending my concerts,” Kej asserted.

The element of environment and nature in his work comes from his own experiences. For instance, he composed the song “One With Earth” – which highlights natural farming and the need to give up chemical fertilisers – after he lived with the tribals in Andhra Pradesh’s Araku Valley to understand their lifestyle and traditional farming techniques.

Grammy award winner, modi
“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented. Wikimedia

Born in 1981 in North Carolina in the US, Kej moved to Bengaluru with family when he was eight, with intense love for music and nature.

“As a child, I felt music and nature were connected and found music in the sounds of nature, birds and animals. I used to look at music as a way of understanding history, cultures and emotions from different parts of the world. A lot of my education was through music,” said Kej, who was part of a rock band “Angel Dust” during his class 12th from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School in Bengaluru.

Even as Kej pursued a dental science course on his father’s advice, he continued to create music and decided to pursue it full-time on completing the degree.

“Like most musicians, I started my career with popular music and later turned to heavy metal and jazz. I finally zeroed in on world music as it connects with the people the world over, irrespective of the language they speak,” Kej recalled.

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As a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in the renowned Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus in this tech hub, the musician believes his job is to approach environmental subjects artistically.

“Numbers don’t hit people as hard as visuals and art can. My job as a musician is to drive the numbers and data through emotions,” Kej added. (IANS)