Delhi-based NGO Routes2Roots recently introduced India’s first interactive digital learning platform dedicated entirely to the performance arts. Virsa, as this project is called, is meant to preserve and promote India’s rich cultural heritage and the legacy of India’s greatest performance artists.
Through this exclusive platform, people can get free digital learning courses on Indian culture and music to children across India, effectively bringing Indian art, music and culture together under one roof. Periodically, workshops and lectures in each genre will also be delivered on VIRSA by renowned artists and legends like kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj, internationally acclaimed violinist DrL. Subramaniam, singer Kavita Krishnamurthy, danseuse Shovna Narayan, singer Shafquat Amanat Ali and actress Juhi Chawla among several others.
The initiative, put together in association with the government’s Ministry of Culture, is said to be the biggest of its kind, and was inaugurated earlier this week at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Government of India.
Rakesh Gupta, founder of Routes2Roots said, “Routes2Roots is a Non Profit NGO engaged in people-to-people contact across the world through culture, heritage, student exchange programs and hosting artists for concerts and theatre. We believe that if people can tolerate and absorb each other’s culture we can dream to have a peaceful world. We have, to our credit, been organizing the world’s largest students exchange programme, since 2010 and still going strong, between children of India and Pakistan. So far, more than 18,000 children have directly participated in this programme.”
Gupta’s organisation has also conducted similar programmes internationally. “We have hosted numerous cultural programmes throughout the world and in several cities in India. Some of the international programmes include, Festival of India in South Africa, celebrating 60 years of Diplomatic ties between India and China, celebrating 65 years of Diplomatic ties between India and Russia, cultural programs in London, Srilanka and Pakistan.”
Through this exclusive platform, people can get free digital learning courses on Indian culture and music to children across India, effectively bringing Indian art, music and culture together under one roof.
For this particular initiative, the focus is shifted back to Indian heritage and culture. “Virsa,” Gupta said, “is a word derived from virasat, which means heritage. Working with the schools here we found that most do not have any classes in the performing arts of India. So we decided to connect the schools digitally and commence interactive classes from quality teachers who are masters in their respective fields and belong to gharanas. We set up an illustrious board of advisors and equally talented teachers who will regularly teach in 10 different genres of various Indian performing arts.”
Virsa aims to spread across to the entire country in time to come, but as of now, schools from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh Uttrakhand, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat have been made part of the initiative.
“This type of organization is the need of the day,” Gupta added, “as the entire world is gripped by the fear of violence, only culture and cultural exchange can minimise these conflicts. People to people contact and tolerating each other’s cultures are the only mantra of peace and we strongly believe in it.”