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Now, the Government of India Hosts Its Own Music Festival!

Apart from a desi music lineup, Festival of Bharat will feature an “organic Holi party,” yoga retreat and a talk by PM Modi’s social media strategist

Rolling Stone India Jan 18, 2018

Illustration: Shallu Narula/Shutterstock.com

In the rush of music festivals that are vying for everyone’s attention in the coming weeks, turns out even the Government of India has entered the fray.

Plus, with all this influx of international artists, trust the Ministry of Tourism to push a fully Indian (and in some cases, Indophile) lineup of musicians and speakers as part of their Festival of Bharat, which takes place between March 1st and 4th in Tijara Fort Palace in Alwar, Rajasthan.

Of course, Rajasthan is about as Indian as it gets, at least if you want to attract tourists. The highlights? One of the first things that are hyped on the ticketing page is the number of visitors ”“ which promises “thousands of visitors” and “visitors from over 20 different countries and six continents.” No problems worrying about the crowd turnout then.

In addition to the music festival, the event also promises a yoga retreat, an “organic Holi party” and a literature fest. Musicians include top-line classical, fusion and commercial artists such as flute legend Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Bollywood singer Jonita Gandhi, violinist Karthick Iyer, fusion act The Aditya Prakash Ensemble and Prem Joshua and Band, among others.

A poster for Festival of Bharat, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, India.

In true ”˜atithi devo bhava’ stance, every speaker part of the Lit fest has their name suffixed with a “Ji” in the information provided on the festival’s ticketing platform. If music’s not your only point of interest, you can catch everyone from activist/academic Madhu Kishwar to Vikas Pandey, a social media expert who has created Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s YouTube channel and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh “official page”. The event is also supported by the NGO The Indian Debating Union and The Art of Living Foundation (which ran into troubled waters, quite literally, in 2016 when it hosted its own mega event, World Culture Festival, on the banks of Yamuna river in New Delhi).

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But even with all this, there’s actually something worth taking away from the ethos of Festival of Bharat. Their music festival lineup page proudly states “We view all artistes with equal respect, and therefore do not profile any of our performers as ”˜headline acts’ or ”˜opening acts’.” There’s probably a lesson in there for indie music festival organizers as well as the government itself.

More details here.