Headined ‘Ustad Alauddin Khan Sangeet Evam Kala Academy ka Kaarnama (‘A Great Feat by the Ustad Alauddin Khan Music and Art Academy’)’, the newspaper reported that the Academy – set up by the Madhya Pradesh government in 1979 – had handed priceless recordings, dating back to 1962, including performances at the state’s famous cultural events like Tansen and Maihar Samarohs, for digitisation to a Bhopal-based firm without tendering or paperwork.
That was just the start. The firm, PP World (also known as Jhawak Bandhu, in Bhopal), had begun getting these recordings in 2012. By 2021, when Swadesh published its report, not one recording had been returned to the Academy.
Given the lack of paperwork, added Dainik Bhaskar, the Academy did not even have a list of all the recordings it had handed over. Both papers said PP World had not been paid. And so, pending payment, it was holding on to the recordings.
It was cavalier behaviour from the Academy. Capturing performances by exponents like Jasraj, Ravishankar, Shivkumar Sharma, Jitendra Abhisheki, Girija Devi and Kishori Amonkar, these recordings are a part of India’s cultural and civilisational history.
And therein hangs a tale.