Different strings: Music's impact on society by Manas Kshirsagar | Campus Diaries

An article on Eastern Fare Music Foundation's philanthropic initiative 'Count Your Blessings' and Pune based organization 'Touch Heart Music: Paws for a Cause' by Manas Kshirsagar from Abasaheb Garware College and Amitoj Singh (March 18, 2014) | Campus Diaries

Count Your Blessings: Eastern Fare Music Foundation    

The Eastern Fare Music Foundation, established back in 2007 was the brainchild of Assamese musician Jim Ankan Deka. Jim, who hails from Guwhati, is from a family of writers and academicians. However, he felt that the life of an academician was not for him, and from an early age, developed a passion for music. Jim left for Bangalore in 2006, for further studies and in the hunt for a job, and it is here that he noticed the apparent lack of quality music schools.

In 2007, with an aim to provide quality education in music to children, Jim and a few friends of his set up the Eastern Fare Music Foundation. Armed with an affiliation to the Trinity College London, the Eastern Fare Music Foundation now trained children to appear for the Trinity Guildhall Examinations in Music theory. With growing numbers and much success, in 2009, The Eastern Fare Music Foundation opened up a club for its members, which offered various amenities including access to a library, music studios, a jamming room and a discussion room for the members to meet in.
Faheeda Fahad and Suchin Ravi of Eastern Fare band

Apart from imparting education to children that could afford to appear for the Trinity Guildhall examination, Jim and other members of the foundation started teaching music to various people around their institute for no charge, including waiters at restaurants and underprivileged children around their first branch at Koramangala in Bangalore.

In 2009, Jim also founded Eastern Fare, an Acoustic Rock band with members from the Foundation. Having performed at many notable venues like Kyra Theater and B-Flat, the band organised a lot of street performances as well, to promote their foundation, and to promote music among the masses.
They shot to fame with various projects of theirs, most notably ‘Awaaz’, which was established in light of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case and went on to win many accolades, including the Best Music Video Award at the Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival and the Hollywood Shorts Reel ’14.
“To protest against the crime, a rally was being organised in Bangalore by a couple of my friends. They asked me to join the rally and play some music, something to invoke the emotions in the crowd and relay our message to the masses. So I sat down with my team and we composed ‘Awaaz – speak up against sexual violence’ as an anthem against such horrific crimes”, says Jim.
A coverage on the Foundation's 'Awaaz' project by the Assam Tribune

Wanting to do more for the community, and wanting to give back to people less privileged, the Eastern Fare Music Foundation, in 2010, started a project called ‘Count Your Blessings’. Largely self funded, this project aims at providing utilities and/or financial help to NGOs and other institutions that are in dire need of help. The money for donation is collected from the members of the foundation – teachers and students alike, and after rigorous discussion as to which organisation is it to be given to, is given either in the form of a monetary relief or by buying utilities that the chosen organisation needs.

This philanthropic initiative also concentrates upon bringing some light into the otherwise dark and lonely lives of senior citizens left by their children at old-age homes, and the unfortunate orphans at orphanages. Mini-shows are arranged specifically for these people every now and then that are aimed to provide some entertainment and joy to them. Often, the underprivileged children too, join in on these ‘jam sessions’.
 Suchin Ravi (Black tee) and Jim Ankan Deka (striped shirt) for 'Count Your Blessings' at an old age home

The foundation also visits slum areas and imparts education and aid to the underprivileged children. Most recently, the foundation has chosen 3, very talented underprivileged children and is aiding them in every possible manner, to help them appear for the Trinity Guildhall Examination this year.
When asked about other means of raising money for such initiatives, through concerts, and the kind, Jim replied in a very grave tone,
“The problem with organising concerts is this – people refuse to pay. They want it all to be free. For large companies and all, it is okay to organise benefit concerts of this kind and generate money. But for us to be able to do so, break even and even collect a tiny amount of profit to donate is visibly impossible, because people simply refuse to pay to attend such benefits”
In order to create more funds and awareness for their philanthropic work, in 2010, the Foundation set up a studio called the Eastern Fare Production House. The main focus of the production house is to create short films and documentaries on the North East and educate people more about it, and also a video series on the workings of various NGOs in and around Bangalore. Both these projects are aimed at creating awareness about places and organisations that are not very well known.

What the foundation aims to do through its various activities is to educate the youth and send out a message to them to contribute and offer physical help for such initiatives and thereby, help the community as a whole. As a start-up that has come a long way since its inception, the Eastern Fare Music Foundation has achieved many accolades, and with perseverance, will continue to provide for the betterment of its immediate community.