Last year on July 15, 2006, the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan was to perform at this historical place at a special function called “India Gate Salutations 2006” to serenade the warriors, who sacrificed their life for the sake of their motherland. It was to be the first time when all the living Bharat Ratnas and national civilian award recipients were expected to gather at the India Gate.

Bismillah Khan, the oldest Bharat Ratna recipient, was not only a part of the history of martyrdoms but had witnessed the resurrection of an independent India. The grand India Gate was built 75 years ago in 1931. A special souvenir to mark the 75th anniversary of the India Gate as well as 75th anniversary of the martyrdoms was also slated to be released.

Five years ago, when he did not have money and resources to meet the cost of his needs, the then government arranged for his performance at Parliament Annexe where Khan had to virtually give a charity show for his own benefit.

It was then that Neena and Shivnath Jha, who had launched a programme to protect musicians, academicians and artists who brought pride and laurels to the nation, thought of bringing out a monograph on the life and art of the Ustad to extend financial support to him.

Neena Jha, a teacher in St. Thomas School, Indirapuram along with her husband and journalist, Shivnath Jha had launched “Andolan Ek Pustak Se (through monograph on Ustad Bismillah Khan) to protect the musicians and fulfil the lifetime desire of shehnai maestro by serenading the warriors and soldiers.

It was for the first time when the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India after conceding the request of Neena and Shivnath Jha, had lifted the ban for any cultural activities at and around India Gate, and allowed the duo to invite the Ustad to fulfill his last wish.

But due to failing health of the ustad, the duo had to extend the programme from July 15 to August 9 (August Kranti Diwas) followed by December 31 (Mrs Indira Gandhi assassination Day). However, Khan died of cardiac arrest in the wee hours on August 21 at Heritage Hospital in temple town Benaras before the couple.

During his long and fruitful career as an artiste, he enthralled audience at performances across the globe. He was bequeathed the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the Tansen award as well as India’s all the four civilian awards including Bharat Ratna.

Despite his fame, Khan's lifestyle retained its old world charm and he continued to use the cycle rickshaw as his chief mode of transport. A man of tenderness, he believed in remaining private and said musicians were supposed to be heard and not seen. He was critical of today's musicians and said they only craved instant success

On India's first Republic Day, Ustad Bismillah Khan had enthralled audiences with a sterling performance from the ramparts of the Red Fort. But fate did not allow the shehnai maestro to fulfil his last wish, that of playing at India Gate

For the past five years, we did our best to promote the secular philosophy of the Ustad by searching and providing employment and financial support to the heirs of Tatya Tope. The Union Minister for Railway Lalu Prasad, Union Minister for Compnay Affairs Premchand Gupta, Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal, Additional Attorney General of India Gopal Subramaniam, Central Bureau of Investigation Director Vijay Shankar, former CBI chief P C Sharma and others have supported our movement.

It’s a tribute to the Ustad on the occasion of July 15. We appeal all sensitive people of the world to join our movement and support us.


Neena Jha & Shivnath Jha
Andolan Ek Pustak Se
Bismillah : The Beginning Foundation


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