The government will institute a new international award in memory of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birth anniversary is May 7 this year, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announced on Monday.
The award carrying a purse of Rs.1 crore will be awarded for exemplary contribution to promotion of world peace, brotherhood, amity and cultural harmony.
The finance minister, who is a member of the high-level committee constituted to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore and oversee the various initiatives proposed to perpetuate the legacy of the literary icon, said the celebration will be a joint exercise between India and Bangladesh under the aegis of the India-Bangladesh Celebrations Committee.
The government has allocated Rs.50 crore (Rs.500 million) for Tagore's birth anniversary celebrations in the country in the plan for 2011-2012, Mukherjee said while presenting the annual budget in the Lok Sabha.
The poet, who was born in 1861 in Kolkata, spent several years managing his family estates at Silaidoh in Rajshahi district in present-day Bangladesh.
Bolstering the morale of the country's institutional arts' promoters, the finance minister said "objects of arts and antiquities of foreign origin brought to the country by government arts institutions for exhibition will be kept out of the loop of import duties" to enrich the country's arts education and awareness scenario.
He said "works of art and antiquities are exempt from customs duties when imported for exhibition in a public museum or national institutions".
"In recent years, many organisations have joined the cause of promoting and popularising both traditional and contemporary art. Some of them have been active in locating heritage works of Indian origin in foreign countries and bringing them back home," the finance minister said.
"To encourage such initiatives, I propose to expand the scope of the exemption for works of art and antiquities to also apply to imports for exhibition or display, in private art galleries or similar premises that are open to general public," he added.
He said lately several organisations have been exhibiting "foreign art and antiquities" across the country.
In the central allocation plan for culture in 2011-2012, the government has earmarked Rs.152 crore for the Archaeological Survey of India and Rs.70 crore for the birth anniversary celebrations of Tagore (Rs.50 crore) and seer Vivekananda (Rs.20 crore).
The financial plan for 2011-2012 has allocated Rs.785 crore for the ministry of culture as against Rs.735 crore in 2010-2011.