Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Interviews - Music Therapy for wellness and pro-active thought and action

Music: An Ultimate Global Language Which will Break All Barriers and Boundaries


Music Therapy for wellness and pro-active thought and action

An interview with Composer-Musician-Therapist and the founder of Ninad, MrArnab B. Chowdhury by Dr.Padmavathy. March 10th,2016 Mr. Arnab Choudary, gave a Musical Sound Therapy to the participants of Stewardship for Sustainable Livelihoods and shared his musical journey. experience and insights in the concept “Finding Your Rhythm: tools for out-of-box thinking”.

Hello! Arnab, what is your opinion about the role of music in changing human behaviour?

Well, philosophically speaking, Music is the language of the soul and is universal. What we know as evidence is that Music is a language of emotions, it changes our emotions and as a result changes in behaviour can be observed, so music can influence and perhaps determine our behavioural states and  the mind-the control tower that holds them all.

What are the various ways in which the impact of music can be utilized, where have these been effectively utilized?

When we listen and feel Music, we are receiving 'something'. When we are vocalizing and playing Music, we are transmitting 'something'. There is a dialogue there, a conversation.

For example, when 400 people sings 'VandeMataram' at Sri Aurobindo Ashram's school anniversary programme on 2nd December every year, there is an immense conversation happening via Music. The audience is asked to stand and join the singing. Now whether, each one of the participants follows the 'Mantric' (mantra) value of each of Bankim Chandra's words, we don't know. But what we feel is a swelling of emotions in the heart, perhaps tears, from a sense of elation and positive pride in being together, and being Indian. Hope this answers your question.

How does music therapy contribute to sustainability?

In our Indian spiritual culture, the Universe's creation started with AUM and the Universe continues to sustain itself in and with this vibration. 

That already means something significant, right?

Music Therapy or ‘Music as Therapy’ is relatively a new academic discipline. Other disciplines which work in tandem with Music Therapy are Medical Science, Natural Sciences, Behavioural and Social Sciences and Performing Arts. A lot of exciting research and experimentation is happening currently. Our team has successfully composed a song with the participation of children with special needs and their teachers, based on musical phonetics drawn from Carnatic Classics and folks. (‘Ta Na Na’ song: http://therapy.ninad.in )

What I presented at SLI is ‘Music is Therapy’. Although we call it therapy, he or she does not need to be ill or a patient. This helps to induce a sense of wellness in the individual and if we are induced to rise to a state of wellness, then we are in a better state to pro-act and be creative in an otherwise limiting environment. That's it.

SLI has been integrating music as part of its programme via drumming circle, sound bath, etc., - how does this impact the changes in perception?

Good to know about this development although I have not been present during these sessions. What I have observed is that SLI's audience tend to be listeners of Tamil cinema songs and music and perhaps Carnatic and folk music; Rhythm being the most prominent element here. In these stress-ridden environment- starting from our schools, workplaces and homes, we have succumbed to  TVs and smartphones, and meanwhile we seem to have lost the important art- the noise of our everyday life. We tend to hear, not listen. Rhythm helps you to listen.

How will it be beneficial to the minds of people who attend these programmes?

I presented a slice from our programme 'Know Your Rhythm' to SLI's attendees to first become aware of active listening, what and how music influences their body in terms of: pulse reading, their behavioural states by doing self-evaluation and to help them sense Rhythm - the fundamental aspect of music. I exposed them to a language of vocal percussion mnemonics and got them to enact workplace scenarios with just two mnemonics – dha and dhin. They were very sporty and there was a lot of camaraderie and humour that flowed!
I hope they now perceive Music as a medium beyond entertainment. Does SLI have a way of getting feedback from them? That would be an interesting input for me.
There is a probability that they are now aware of what active listening is and how a stressed scenario can also have a rhythm. Somewhere in the back of their minds, if they connect to this rhythm with a smile, they will be able to feel the reduction of stress and positive energy.

It’s been said that "Silence is a form of music", what is your opinion about it... how is sound therapy different from it and which form will have a best impact on human health and society?

I don’t think I have understood your question. But let me talk about silence in music.  Yes, Silence is certainly important, a space and time to repose, and pause and poise. Music and Silence are two sides of the same coin.
Whether it is sabhas of Carnatic or Hindustani classical concerts, you will find vocalists or instrumentalists pausing after a phrase especially towards the introduction of a particular Raga as in the 'alaap'. What are they doing?  They are giving themselves and the audience, the silence- this pause is important for all of us to immerse and absorb the Musical phrase- musical phrase of life.
Music Therapy  is not much different from it, we do the same. We give dosages of Music Therapy and pause, again to absorb, as an Experience. If we as individuals get more in rhythm with ourselves and our environment, we grow in health as a collective.

Mr. Arnab B. Chowdhury- Ninad (www.ninad.in)

Friday, 11 March 2016

Organic Farming for a Sustainable Livelihood

Return to Traditional Organic farming for safe and secured Future
An interview with Safe Food and Organic Fabric Entrepreneur and Safe Food Activist, Mr.Ananthoo by Dr. Padmavathy

Dr. Padmavathy is an ecological farming researcher researching and conceptualizing farming related interventions on behalf of the AVSLI unit and supporting the activities of SLI, particularly in preparation of the location specific background material for each of the farming programmes. The interview was conducted when Mr. Ananthoo visited the SLI and shared his experience and insights with the Stewardship for Sustainable Livelihoods participants on 10th March 2016.

After listening to Mr.Ananthoo interactive session and talk on need of Organic farming total food link and supply chain in SLI on 10 Feb, 2016, I had an opportunity to interview him. It was a great privilege to spend time with such a real social activist, who has truly dedicated himself to organic farming and welfare of the society.


“Sir, What do you think about the current status of Agriculture and farmers in India?”

“It’s in pretty bad shape and very critical. Today farmers became more modernized, market and enterprises dependent, making them to invest more and get less profit. Farmers as well as the public are unaware of health problems that lie behind the modernized farming practices. First they must come out of this modernized farming thinking and return to traditional organic farming practices and know its importance. They must understand that self reliant/locally made organic bio-fertilizers will cost less, this will provide them sufficient economic returns apart from providing them self satisfaction and ensuring environmental and health security.

What has to be done for water restoration and conservation on which agriculture is so dependent?

Avoid “modernized farming” which was the major cause for the ground water depletion, usage of more water in spraying pesticide/insecticides and fertilizers, will only lead to more ground water depletion, finally leading to desertification. We are not recharging the ground water, unless until we recharge it by rain water harvesting, creating temporary water ponds and trenches in the farm fields for future use. Merely ¼ of the water used in chemical farming is more than sufficient, if we do traditional organic farming and efficient minimal water usage via drip irrigation, mulching etc.

What is your opinion on GM crops?

In simple term it’s totally useless, not required, not safe both for environment and public health. Whole concept of GM is only for the benefit of corporate and multinational companies, nor the farmers nor the society. GM concept ultimately leads to an irreversible state of total loss of traditional indigenous seed varieties, which are reliable, economically stable, most importantly they have the capacity to withstand/adaptable to extreme environmental stress and condition. For example, introduction of Bt Cotton (the first GM crop in India) caused about eradication of 95% of our valuable traditional varieties of cotton. It is an irreversible process once we lost is lost we can’t bring back what we lost.

Does the climate change will have impact on Agriculture, if it does how can we overcome it and achieve food security for this ever growing population?

Climate change plays a very drastic role/impact in agriculture. Last year merely 50% of agriculture land in India lost its fertility due to desertification/water stress- mainly due to seasonal change and climatic fluctuation. Our way of farming and agriculture must be synchronized along with the environmental condition/climate; farmer and people must learn to live along with nature. Unless until we understand, accept and adapt to condition, the problems what we are going to face will be severe and drastic, but never going to change its negative consequences.

In terms of achieving Food Security, first of all farmers must get a self esteemed equalized recognition in the society, this will automatically encourage the farmers and involve future generation in farming, which will obviously reduce the conversation of agriculture fields to corporate companies or industries etc., and making strong agricultural policy/controlling the misuse of power to some extend will also be helpful in restoring the agricultural fields. More land area will increase cultivation, production and we can achieve (nutritious) food security for the ever growing population, but it can be achieved only via organic farming.

What do you think of the role played by SLI in Sustainability and especially Sustainable Farming training programmes?

The programmes conducted by SLI about Sustainability and Sustainable Agriculture is what is currently needed for the society, creating awareness, especially among the farmers and especially in rural areas will alone bring about changes in the society. SLI is in right track and the work done by this Institute is really tremendous and impressive. Great work, it is an appreciable initiative towards sustainable future. You need to expose the farmers coming here to visit local organic farmer’s fields and also serve organic food to the people, by doing that people will obviously feel the difference between the organically grown food in terms of taste, flavor and nutritious value as well.

Ananthoo's Blog
ReStore Organic Food Store
Tula Organic Fabrics
Organic Farmer's Market

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

SLi is 1 year old

This month marks the first year of SLI in its current location. It was in late March 2015 that SLI started to function from the current location. We plan to have an event on the 24th of March to mark the first year of our functioning in this location, be on the look out for more detailed plans and information in this regard.