In a move that foreshadowed the Live Aid relief concert of 1985 and all humanitarian aid extravaganzas to follow, Shankar convinced friend George Harrison to use his enormous pulling power for the good.
He soon had the ex-Beatle dialling numbers from a wish-list of big-name performers, and setting in place a ''George Harrison and Friends'' doubleheader at Madison Square Garden that would go on to generate millions for Unicef from concert, album and film royalties.
The Grammy-winning triple album The Concert For Bangladesh is not only a moving memento of the August 1, 1971, performances, it is start-to-finish great musical experience.
With the usually stage-shy Harrison playing MC, Shankar's own supergroup opens proceedings with stunning raga Bangla Dhun, setting the scene for the top-flight ''rock with a role'' that follows.
Throughout the concerts, the air crackles with the crowd's anticipation of just which of Harrison's other friends will take the stage to join a house band that includes Billy Preston and Leon Russell on keys, Eric Clapton and members of Badfinger on guitar, Klaus Voormann on bass and a six-piece horn section.
Ringo Starr is rewarded with affection for a version of It Don't Come Easy, and Harrison himself is in rare form taking on his own compositions and Beatles hits alike, but when the then-reclusive Bob Dylan takes the stage to nail five of his most influential songs of the '60s, the true weight of the circumstances that brought these artists together is felt.
As it needs to, the spotlight then shines on the people of Bangladesh.
By Jeff Harford