Years ago, a Khanjira player set a benchmark in the world of Carnatic classical music. He was invited to all the Gayanasabhas and also accompanied leading artistes of the country. But his untimely death, left his family without a single penny. He had neither a bank balance nor insurance to support his family. It was this fate of the Khanjira player’s family and of many others that moved T S Balasubramaniam, R Krishnaswamy and N V Subramaniam to set up a insurance scheme for musicians, both professional and amateur. Balasubramaniam, once a professional musician himself, said that he always felt he should contribute something to music and help the practitioners of music.
As a retired LIC employee, Balasubramaniam knew the annals of the insurance sector, which helped him to set up the Group Insurance policy for musicians in July, 2005. The policy covers musicians across the country between the age group of 18 to 60 years.
A musician who subscribes to the policy has to pay `600 per year. “The amount is not a financial burden. There are many musicians who are completely dependent on the tuitions. Close to `1.5 lakh will be given to the family in case of a mishap.”
At present, over 133 musicians have opened a policy. The list of policy holders include some well known musicians like Sanjay Subramanium, Rajkumar Bharathi, Narmada, Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam, Nityashree Mahadevan, Vaidyanathan Suresh, Trivandrum Vaidyanath and others. However, Balasubramaniam said it was not enough. “Some of the big names in the industry, who have joined this, are an added advantage. But we need more young musicians to support our cause,” he explained.
He further clarified that the Group Insurance scheme is not a business venture. “This policy demands no medical examination and other tests. A musician needs to be hale and healthy when he applies for the policy,” he added.
However, Balasubramaniam said that convincing the artistes to open a policy is not an easy task. “Coordinating with the artistes, reminding them about the renewal of the policy is a herculean task. Musicians generally lack knowledge about such schemes and fail to make use of it,” he said.
How is the response from musicians in Bangalore? “We have not received a good response. A well-known artiste from Bangalore had enrolled for the policy but after a year he discontinued due to many reasons.” Balasubramaniam says
Vaidyanath Suresh, ghatam artiste, said, “This is a good cause and a step towards helping the world of music in India but young musicians must cooperate. The group insurance policy is suffering due to non-cooperation from the musicians on account of pessimism and ignorance besides lack of information.”