A museum for tribals - which was inaugurated with much fanfare by President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday - has created ripples in the scheduled castes community in Madhya Pradesh.
A section of artists and people belonging to scheduled castes have mooted the idea of establishing a similar museum solely dedicated to this particular social category.
While STs constitute 20% of the state's total population, SCs form more than 15%. "After witnessing grand display of tribal art, culture and traditions we too feel that if a museum dedicated to scheduled castes is established, our heritage also could be preserved and displayed in a similar manner," said Devram, a well-known Kathi dancer.
Basant Nirgune, an expert on SC/ST art and traditions, says that people in general have a misconception that the SC community does not have a rich art-and-culture heritage.
"Very few people know that Kathi dance from Nimar area of Madhya Pradesh and also Bedni dance are done by people belonging to the marginalised community. There are so many artistic traditions in these communities which need to be preserved and projected properly," said Nirugne, while speaking to HT.
People from these communities are very good in making and playing drums (dhol), while their Kathi dance is accompanied by traditional tales of Harishchandra, Suryalo-Mahajan, the expert said, adding that their craftsmanship in leather, wood, cloth weaving and designing had remained unnoticed for long. "They should get their due recognition in form of a museum," he demanded.
The director-culture of the state government, Shriram Tiwari, said he supports the idea of establishing a separate museum for SC community. He said people from scheduled castes have their own treasure trove of traditions, art and culture and "it should be preserved".
"Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced the establishment of Sant Ravidas National Memorial and Museum at Ujjain last year. On instructions of the chief minister, land had been identified and reserved in Ujjain near river Kshipra. He has also allotted money for its construction," said Lal Singh Arya, BJP state general secretary and former president of the Scheduled Castes Morcha.
Minister of SC welfare Harishankar Khatik told HT that his department would do whatever is required to implement the chief minister's plans.