108 songs for Mahatma Gandhi in 14 languages

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) A retired government officer is trying to take forward Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence and simplicity to people around the world via an album of a mammoth 108 songs penned by 106 poets in 14 Indian languages.

But the only thing troubling the curator is finding a proper medium for programming the songs.
The rare album “BapuGeetika” is an effort by Kalpana Palkhiwala, a retired government officer who first came across a collection of 101 poems, written by various authors in 14 languages, almost two decades ago while serving in the publications division of the information and broadcasting ministry.
“I chanced upon 101 poems which were in 14 Indian languages, but were written in Hindi. Their translations were there and it was interesting to note how many prominent poets have written poems on Gandhi and his ideology,” the 62-year-old told IANS.
“Their meaning and essence was very much relevant for children, and I felt the strong need of composing these poems so that they could reach out to them, as children learn a song faster than a poem,” she said.
Poems by Rabindranath Tagore, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Subhadrakumari Chauhan, Prabhakar Machwey and Subrahmanya Bharti feature in the project.
While Palkhiwala laid her hands on 101 poems, realising they were mostly written during the 1950s and 1960s, she requested some of her acquaintances to pen down a few more on the “father of the nation” to give the album a touch of contemporary values.
The project took almost two years to finish. Seven composers, 60 singers and 65 live musicians pitched in to give shape to her vision.
Preaching the Gandhian message of non-violence, simplicity, peace and love, Palkhiwala feels children should be taught about these values as they are the core ingredients for building the society.
“If children imbibe these values at the very beginning of life, we will see a change in our society,” she added.
But her journey hasn’t been smooth. The production cost has escalated and the project is still struggling to be programmed through a popular medium.
“I had approached All India Radio a few years back, but they didn’t like it. Then I tried a few other avenues, but they too never materialised. I can’t expect schools to commission my project,” she said.
“In the last 20 years, what could have been done in Rs.2-5 lakh can’t be done today without Rs.20 lakh. I have used most of my retirement money in this project. So I just hope I am able to meet someone who is ready to fund it,” she added.