The Ministry of Civil Aviation, stating that music in India began as an “integral part of socio-religious life” has written to Indian airlines and airports to play Indian music onboard aircraft and on airport premises.
This was prompted following a request from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) last week.
“Music played by most of the airlines across the globe is quintessential of the country to which the airline belongs, for example, jazz in American airlines or Mozart in Austrian airlines and Arab music in an airline from the Middle East,” read the letter by joint secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Usha Padhee.
“But, Indian airlines seldom play Indian music in the flight, whereas, our music has a rich heritage and culture and it has one of the many things every Indian has a reason for (being) truly proud of it,” added the letter by Padhee, addressed to the chief of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Arun Kumar and Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman Sanjeev Kumar, on Monday.
However, the ministry did not define what constitutes Indian music. “Indian music encompasses numerous genres in multiple varieties and forms which include classical music, folk, light vocal, instrumental,” said Padhee in her letter.
ICCR in their letter to the Minister of State for Civil Aviation of India, Jyotiraditya Scindia, stated, “It is extremely unfortunate that most airlines in India, both private and government-owned, as well as both domestic and international, seldom, if at all, play Indian music,”.
Artists like Anu Malik, Malini Awasthi, Shounak Abhisheki, Kaushal S Inamdar, Manjusha Patil K, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Rita Ganguly, and Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar were signatories to the letter.
Airlines play music inside an aircraft only during the time of boarding. Some airlines like SpiceJet and Air India offer audiovisual content for entertainment on seatback screens or mobile phones for their passengers.
Founder of the aviation website, Live From A Lounge, Ajay Awtaney, looks forward to this new step by the government but wonders if Indian passengers will be on board with it. “Airlines usually play piped music during boarding and descent phase of a flight in India, and that too only some of them do so. Vistara’s signature tune, for instance, already encompasses Indian classical tunes… Other airlines might move in a similar direction,” he told The Hindu.