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President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday presented the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puruskar) for the year 2019, 2020 and 2021.
In her address on the occasion, the President said that the civilisation showcases the material achievements of a nation but intangible heritage is revealed through its culture.
"Culture is the real identity of a country. India's unique performing arts have kept our incredible culture alive for centuries. Our arts and artists are the carriers of our rich cultural heritage. 'Unity in diversity' is the biggest feature of our cultural traditions," she said.
The President said that in our tradition, art is a spiritual practice, a medium of the search for truth, a medium of prayer and worship, and a medium of public welfare. Collective exuberance and unity also find expression through dance and music. Art binds the linguistic diversity and regional characteristics in one thread.
She said that we should take pride in the fact that the oldest and best definitions and traditions of art have developed in our country. "Our cultural values have become more useful in the modern era. In today's time which is full of tension and conflict, Indian arts can spread peace and harmony. Indian arts are also the best example of India's soft power."
The President said that just as nature's gifts like air and water do not recognize human limitations, the art forms are also above language and geographical boundaries. The music of M. S. Subbulakshmi, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, and Bhupen Hazarika are unhindered by language or geography. With their immortal music, they have left an invaluable legacy for music lovers not only in India but all over the world.