Art of the matter : Haryana akademis headless and haunted
Children who came in to attend their afternoon painting and music classes at the Haryana Kala Parishad's Multi-art Cultural Centre had to return disappointed on Thursday, since the evening before, the services of their local part-time teachers had been dispensed with.chandigarh Updated: Sep 09, 2015 11:46 IST
Children who came in to attend their afternoon painting and music classes at the Haryana Kala Parishad's Multi-art Cultural Centre had to return disappointed on Thursday, since the evening before, the services of their local part-time teachers had been dispensed with.
The centre close to the Brahm Sarovar bears a forlorn look, with most activity suspended since the vice-chairman had to go out with the advent of the new state government. There is no replacement, so far, no release of money, and for the past three months, no salaries to the staff.
The prized cultural centre of Haryana built with the central government grant remains a far cry from Bhopal's famous Bharat Bhawan on which it was modelled, all because there is no right person to be its head. At the grand Akademi Bhawan in Panchkula's Sector 14, the state of affairs is just as dismal. When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took over the reins of the state more than 10 months ago, the heads of all the cultural akademis were asked to resign as theirs were what is called "political posts". The sole exception was Haryana Sanskrit Akademi, whose head was a Sanskrit schoolteacher on deputation. His role, though, has been reduced to drawing and disbursing the salaries of the employees of various akademis.
"The blame for the lackadaisical approach to art and culture cannot be put on any one government. It is lack of vision or prejudice that has kept talent and expertise away. We have a lot of hope from the new government and its cultural agenda to breathe fresh life into the cultural organisations," says actor-writer Anoop Lather, who for three decades has promoted arts. As director of youth welfare at Kurukshetra University, he not only revived the dying folk arts but also exposed the students to contemporary art and cinema. "The akademis are there but what is required is a passion to encourage arts," he says.
Akademi Bhawan houses Haryana Sahitya Akademi, Granth Akademi, Punjabi Akademi, Urdu Akademi and Kala Parishad. Besides, there is Haryana History Akademi in Gurgaon. This shows that Haryana took lead in the region in the promotion of language, literature, culture and heritage. These akademis have been bringing out valuable journals such as Harigandha, Katha Samay, Sapt Sindhu, Shabdboond (Punjabi) and Jamunatat (Urdu) but the publications were suspended. Besides, there is a two-year backlog of art and literature awards that these akademis give away.
At the Kurukshetra University department of fine arts, the students and members of the faculty have done some very good work, yet the state has no akademi for visual and plastic arts. "It is sad indeed that the state has no Lalit Kala Akademi to encourage the young artists coming out of the universities," says department head Ram Viranjan. He suggested de-linking of the culture department from the public relations department, if serious work is to be done. Chandigarh-based painter Ram Pratap Verma, who belongs to Bhiwani, adds: "The visual artists of Haryana are orphaned by the absence of any state akademi to support artistic endeavour. In spite of that, many painters and sculptors have emerged from the state."
Senior officers from the Haryana culture and PR departments declined to comment on the headless state of the akademis, as they were occupied with making arrangements for the Faridabad visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Since the state has infrastructure as well as a budget for culture, it might as well get the ball rolling with fresh and appropriate appointments. Perhaps a precedent for the region would be set by creating posts for art-and-culture experts instead of political appointees.
Harjinder Kaur is chairperson of Punjab Arts Council, not Harjinder Singh as rendered inadvertently in the write-up 'Punjab cultural academies starved of funds, vision' (September 5). The error is regretted.