My tryst with this noble movement was quite accidental. It started with a peep into the auditorium of Azad Hind College, Mumbai in 1995 -96 where Smt. Kishori Amonkar was at the peak of her performance. I had gone there not to listen to any classical music, but to volunteer at the shoe counter outside. For many of us, to volunteer for SPIC MACAY programs in neighboring institutions, was a good excuse to skip classes ‘officially’. Till that day, classical music just did not make any sense to me. But that curious 'peep' into the auditorium captivated me forever. The experience left me spellbound long after the performance was over. I was soon attending classical music concerts regularly, whenever I got time and the opportunity while working for long hours in the hotel industry.

In 2004, when I joined as a Faculty in a hotel management college in Indore, I confronted SPIC MACAY again. One day I read about Pt Vishwamohan Bhatt's performing at a local management institute in Indore. I left office early that day and went for the concert. It was a very fulfilling and an emotional moment for me when Pt Vishwamohan agreed to my request of playing his Grammy Award winning number. After the concert was over, I was approached by Neal Jain, the then coordinator for Indore who insisted that I come for the weekly meeting on Saturdays.

I remember going for one of the Saturday meetings and being utterly surprised to find Neal sitting all alone. I was overwhelmed by his single- minded dedication and decided to contribute to the cause then and there. Even then I had never imagined that I would be so engrossed in the SPIC MACAY movement. Over a period of time my involvement grew. I would translate press reports in English from Hindi and coordinate with the press.Later Neal also encouraged me to do artist coordination.

Then came the Mumbai National Convention in 2004, which was the first convention I attended and it changed my entire perspective of this cause. I soon moved to Hyderabad and started contributing to uplift the activities there.

With all these years of association with SPIC MACAY one has also come to notice some issues that we as a movement must address promptly.

I find a big gap between our cultural heritage and the younger generation. No syllabus of any school or university covers music, dance, folk arts or crafts as important subjects of study. SPICMACAY is dedicated to bridge this gap but our efforts seem little. Many corporatised educational institutions still display grimace to support this cause. I am left surprised when I see the high-fee-charging schools failing to offer even a meager amount as financial support for a SPIC MACAY program in their premesis. I wish these schools and colleges were more generous in contributing financially and helping us to spread.

The other issue that bothers me is that SPIC MACAY is not active in many smaller towns. For instance in Andhra Pradesh, there are few ‘B’ towns where programs are organized. We 

must​​ focus on spreading the movement to all parts of the country. This can be done by funding these small chapters, which most of the time become dormant due to lack of funds.

Gandhiji used to say that the real India lives in its villages. We have to convince the artists to reach out to students even in the villages. Besides the private educational institutions, SPIC MACAY must also go to the government schools. If we go through the Activity Chart of 2008-2009, one finds that most places that are highlighted come from big cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata, Bangalore etc where maximum number of programs are held. The Youth in these cities is anyways exposed to various art forms, even without being associated with SPIC MACAY. Our focus should be on how to inspire and make the youth in the smaller towns more aware.

Another thing that I feel strongly about is giving a chance to those artists from our ‘Artsites Directory’ who have so far been completely ignored. Over the years, we have seen a few artists getting too many programs while many others not figuring in our schedule at all. We must understand that all artists listed in the ‘Artists' Directory’ have been included after careful scrutiny. No artist is lesser than the other. Picking up selective artists gives an impression of us promoting a few artsits rather than the art form.

Then there is the case of chapters going dormant after some time due to lack of financial support or lack of a volunteer base. At Hyderabad, we have overcome these hurdles by implementing a few successful strategies. We now charge the private institutions for a performance, in such a way that we also save money after all expenses have been met. We no longer ask for one, big hefty sponsorship from a few companies but go for for smaller amounts from many. Our next step is to coordinate with the corporate-run schools for an annual fund per student.

Even Rs.100 per student can raise about Rs. 80,000 from one school. If even five schools come up with such a contribution, it will help us raise Rs. 4,00,000 per year. No school administration or parents' body would object to such a small amount for getting inspiring and moving performances. Besides cross-subsidizing government schools and colleges, where money is a major constraint; we can also support the dormant and small chapters in a state. Because of our offering to govt. institutions we can also get lenient support from the State’s Culture Department.

Dr Kiran Seth, the inspiration behind SPIC MACAY, always emphasises on the weekly meetings. I strongly agree with his views. Hyderabad Chapter has bounced back as a strong chapter only due to the regular conduct of weekly meetings. The meetings have to be regular without any break. For about 2 years, there were times I was the only person present at these meetings in Hyderabad. Today SPIC MACAY has become a brand and many institutions are eager to start chapters and have weekly meetings in their campuses.

Today, when I look back, I feel I have personally gained much from SPIC MACAY. I feel it is an integral part of my life. I learnt organizing, planning, coordination, directing students etc. here. Above all, I found a very big family in spicmacayites all over the country. Moreover, the most precious thing I learnt to face challenges.

SPIC MACAY is not only about organizing programmes, it is a platform to mould oneself into a complete human being. SPIC MACAY has given me an opportunity to serve my country in a beautiful way. India is known for its arts, crafts, traditions and culture more than anything else. I am glad that we have this opportunity to contribute to our Mother India. 

​- Vikas Nagrare​