By Ashok Easwaran
Chicago, Sep 16 (IANS) The 'Ode to peace' concert performed by sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan at the United Nations ahead of the 9/11 anniversary was a declaration of India's battle against terror, says Anupam Ray, India's acting permanent representative to the United Nations.
"India has been one of the biggest victims of terror and the event was a declaration of India's mission," Ray told IANS. By any reckoning, Ray said the concert could be termed a spectacular success. "There were 50 ambassadors, top UN officials and a collection of prominent academics. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sat through the whole performance."
Khan, who has been a tireless crusader for inter-cultural and inter-religious harmony, was gratified by the audience response. Khan said he began his recital with two compositions especially dear to him - Mahatma Gandhi's favorite 'Vaishnava Janato' and Rabindranath Tagore's 'Ekla chalo re'. The maestro was joined by his two sons, Amaan and Ayaan.
"I told the audience that our family felt connected with every soul, every nation and every religion. I said I felt saddened that even in the 21st century the bloodiest conflicts were over religion, and that education has not been able to create compassion," Khan told IANS.
Ban Ki-moon said that it has never been more important to come together against the forces which have brought about terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism. "We have seen the devastating impact of terrorism in Mumbai and Madrid, Nairobi and New York, London and Lahore. We have seen the destabilizing effect of extremism in Somalia and Iraq, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
These crimes against innocent women and men are also assaults on our fundamental values - peace, tolerance, justice and human rights. We must condemn them. But we must also work for a remedy. We must work together to create a world where extremism is not an option, where radicalization has no appeal," he said. The Secretary General won the hearts of many when he began with "Namaskar, kya hal chal hai ?"
Ray said that Khan's choice for the occasion was self evident. "What could have been a better choice than Ustad Amjad Ali Khan ?" he said, "Here is a person who is the very embodiment of secularism - a Muslim who plays the sarod, and who is married to a Hindu. It is only people like him who are the best answer to extremism."