Often during a spirited conversation among Indians living abroad, the “culture” word appears predominantly during their talks about India; “it’s the culture!” – they say at the outset of a discussion about India, in a nostalgic sense of the term. And why not, several elements of Indian culture, such as Indian religions, mathematics, cuisines, languages, philosophy, performing arts, movies, and literature have had a profound impact across the sub-continent and the world. We are proud to have a dedicated website for our Indian culture: https://indianculture.gov.in/

It is no wonder then that in the 21st century of a digital era on her 75th birthday in 2022, India got her 75 Cultural Ambassadors of India. The Ministry of Culture, under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), recognised 75 digital content creators. From teenage influencers and entrepreneurs to celebrities, these individuals were recognised as Cultural Ambassadors of India, for taking Indian heritage to millions of followers. The welcome address by Shri Govind Mohan, Secretary, Ministry of Culture was followed by felicitation of the following 75 influencers.

10 of the 75 ambassadors inspire with their unique branding and niche subject expertise that drive millions of Indians to take action for change:

1. Antara Nandy, singer songwriter musician playback singer with roots in Assam, who charted her path to recognition and massive scale fame as an Indian performing artist, against all odds, on her own merit, her unique styles of performances, innovative ideas of creating music at home, and utilizing the power of social media platforms

2. Pune-based Kabita Singh, a chef, food blogger, restaurant consultant and who is popular for demonstrating Indian cuisine recipes on YouTube

3. Pranavv Chandran Kodoor, a musician, playback singer and YouTube sensation, who sang for Marvel’s Avenger Infinity War title track (Hindi dubbed version) – Aa Dekhe Zara. He is a musical artist who started his journey with cover songs and then started creating his own original tracks

4. Neha Nagar, ex wealth manager with IIFL, who creates videos to make you financially literate. She is the CEO and Founder of Taxationhelp – a tech driven platform that offers services covering the legal needs of start-ups is quite popular among the literates

5. Meghna Kamdar, a banker turned baker and YouTuber. She has won laurels like Top 75 Ambassador, India, Forbes India Top 100 Digital Star, Living Foodz Epicurean Guild Award as Food Instagrammer of the Year. She launched a new channel, Meghna’s Food Magic, in Tamil for viewers from the South

6. Iti Acharya, an actor in the south film industry, and world peace ambassador Miss South India 2016, she actively participates in social work and campaigns like Beti Padhao Beti Bachao and Women Empowerment and Child Education held by IHRC. She was appointed by Wockhardt Foundation as a World Peace Keeper and a Peace Ambassador

7. Harjinder Singh (harjinderkukreja.com) is a Punjabi restaurateur, philanthropist, traveller and social activist from Ludhiana

8. Ayush Shukla, the 22-year-old Odisha guy has come a long way in a short span as an entrepreneur at Finnet Media which is an influencer marketing and creator management agency. He runs a podcast @theminiadulttroubles

9. Anushka Rathod runs a website @kukufm.page where she imparts knowledge and info on investing, taxes, budgeting, insurance. With 4000 audio books on the link, this digital content creator hails from Surat

10. Aksh Baghla, a singer, YouTuber, does mashups and covers, writes songs, and plays half a dozen instruments. His fanbase includes 1.5 Mn+ YouTube subscribers. He loves making Bollywood-American mashup

Welcome Melodious Asmi, from BIRBHUM, West Bengal

Asmi, whose YouTube channel is @MelodiousAsmi and Instagram handle is @melodious_asmi_official, is a performing artist from Birbhum, West Bengal, who won our hearts with her rendition of the Rabindrasangeet “Ekla Chalo Re” in 4 Indian languages, namely, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi and Bangla, in her YouTube video titled “চারটি ভাষায় রবীন্দ্রসঙ্গীত | Ekla Chalo Re | একলা চলো রে | 4 languages in one | by Melodious Asmi while she meticulously mentioned Rabindranath’s connection with the places of the 4 languages. The video garnered 698,251 views and 2300+ comments so far.

Business History and Ethos of Indian Music as Lifestyle Choice

By the way, do you know which is the largest selling non-film recording in India’s musical history?

It is that of Venkateswara Suprabhatam rendered by the peerless M S Subbulakshmi, fondly known as MS, whose rendition to this day remains the early-morning anthem of many Hindu households, across continents, as reported by Swarajyamag.com, when they say:

The Venkateswara Suprabhatam, combining both musicality and piety, remains a Hindu anthem of sorts, and this year (2023) marks the 60th anniversary since the most famous recording of it was made available to the public as a LP (vinyl) recording. Since then it has literally sold many millions in vinyl records, then cassettes and CDs. 

The first verse in the Venkateswara Suprabhatam is taken from the Bala Kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana, and the rest was written by the Sanskrit and Tamil scholar-poet Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya.

The MS version, which brings rare peace and solace to many of the believing listeners, did not happen overnight. Before committing herself to the venture, she, as is her wont, sought the permission and blessings of the Kanchi seer Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal.

After Periyava’s benediction, MS intricately understood the inherent prosody of the verses to help deliver them musically. Many accounts of people acquainted with MS say that the great singer, along with Radha Vishwanathan (her step-daughter), practised the song day in and day out for nearly six months.

She is said to have rendered the full version at least 100 times before she sat down for the rendering. It was a show of humility before the art and a grand exhibition of professionalism. She worked on her enunciation with monkish one-pointedness, and her innate musical sense took off from there. 

As TJS George said in the biography of MS, “From the time she was learning to tune the tambura in her mother’s rooms, something seemed to cause in her the kind of ‘auspiciousness’ that Krishna mentioned in his reply to Arjuna. That inborn trait stayed with her and culminated in the astonishing dictional clarity she achieved in her Suprabhatham hymnals, all of which were in chaste Sanskrit. The ease with which she mastered such purity of pronunciation in Sanskrit became a topic of discussion among ordinary listeners and pundits alike.”

The HMV recording was done at a stretch and there was nothing to patch up.

On listening of the same, the recording crew, it is said, was convinced that this was a divine rendition as it touched their souls. But none of them present at the recording knew that it would go on to break all records in musical history of India.

The LP vinyl record was released in November 1963 (along with her rendition of Swati Tirunal’s Bhavayami Raghuraamam, and this too had an earlier AIR version) by the then President Sarvepillai Radhakrishnan. It was in the aftermath of India-China war and India was looking for morale uplifting things. And in the words of the President, musical and religious works like Suprabhatam remind people about the core values and help them find solace in times of strife. 

And on MS’ voice and rendering, Radhakrishnan declared, “Her magnificent voice is one of the richest treasures of our generation, and if that voice is brought into homes and if people are able to listen to it, that is the greatest service one can render.”

The recording brought enormous financial rewards to HMV.

The royalty proceeds to MS were also huge. And as it always happened with her, she donated all of it to Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam. Her music was bhakti in intent, content and delivery. So was her life. With MS, music and life were the same.

M.S. Subbulakshmi was born in a family of musicians. She received her training in vocal music from her mother, Smt. Shanmugavadivu, a celebrated Veena player. Known both for her mellifluous presentation of ragas and her chaste diction, M.S. Subbulakshmi’s rendition of devotional music in South Indian languages as well as in Hindi won her a whole class of music-lovers. Smt. Subbulakshmi was the first lady to have received the Sangita Kalanidhi title of the Music Academy, Madras. She was also the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the Padma Bhushan, the Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna. For her eminence in the field of Music and for her contribution to its enrichment, Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi was conferred the Fellowship of the Akademi in 1974.

Please write (in comments) your memories of listening to music as a household ritual, sometimes at your own will, or inspired by habits of family members. We appreciate your participation and your cherished memories hold a special place in our hearts.

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