Your plans about Bharat Bhavan?
I would decide course of action only after one or two meetings of the Trust. As of now, I can only tell you that we would like to preserve whatever is good and improve upon the shortcomings.
How do you feel being elected Bharat Bhavan Trust chairman at this juncture?
We will not indulge in faultfinding and do whatever can be done for its betterment. We will try to involve everyone. I have nothing against anybody.
Paucity of funds has been a perennial problem. Do you expect the Government to be more liberal in funding the trust?
I don’t expect anything but we shall request everyone. We will also try to mobilise private sector in a big way for financial assistance. I was in Bharat Bhawan 14 years ago and since then many things must have changed.
What is the source of your optimism for an institution many regard as dead?
I have vast experience of cultural administration. I am an insider and aware of ground realities. You can also see ‘Prativarsh’, the annual report of programmes conducted during my two- and- a -half year stint as director Bharat Bhavan. You will find the volume and quality of programmes held during that period. Culture and art are my passion. Don’t go by my age. I am still active and hope to deliver the goods at Bharat Bhavan in right earnest.
‘I want to rid it of all isms’
There are allegations that Bharat Bhavan programmes lack thinking or vision. Some vested interests are making such sweeping statements. Activities in Bharat Bhavan have gone up tremendously. After I took over as secretary, literature that had been neglected for long is also receiving due prominence.
But many writers feel the programme on the history of Hindi literature had very few of the calibre to handle the subject. Similarly credentials of people invited for lecture under ‘Samvad’ series are being doubted.
Arun Kamal, Nirmala Jain, Bharat Bhardwaj, Sudhir Chandra and many like them participated in the programme on the history of Hindi literature. Those who are doubting the credentials of such writers should broaden their knowledge base.
How do you envisage your role as Bharat Bhavan Trust secretary?
It is well-defined. After I took over, my efforts have been to rid Bharat Bhavan of all ‘isms’ and involve artistes of all ideologies and groups. I have succeeded in my efforts.
‘No RSS agenda’
You are supposed to be the saffron pillar of Bharat Bhavan. All the programmes organised by you are more political than literary. Persons invited to speak in them are RSS functionaries and sometimes BJP leaders as well.
We have started a series of lectures on ideological moorings of Hindi literature. Every poet or writer is identified with one ideology or the other. Hence the lectures under ‘Samvad’ series. But, those being invited are invariably only RSS men. Dharampal or D P Sinha or Shankar Saran may be identified with RSS in a section but they are all independent thinkers in their own right.
We invited Namvar Singh for lecture on Marxism but he refused. Kedar Nath Singh and Prof Kamla Prasad also did not come. Then we invited Shivkumar Mishra to speak on Marxism.
Do you think only the RSS and the BJP men are nationalists?
I am not saying that Marxists are not nationalists but they call themselves Marxist so they should better speak on Marxism and let the nationalists speak on nationalism.
Does the BJP have a political agenda for Bharat Bhavan ?
None. Nobody from the Bhartiya Janata Party or the RSS asked me to do or not do anything.
‘It is not a place for politics’
Does the BJP or the RSS have any political agenda for Bharat Bhavan?
We wish to nourish Bharat Bhavan as a centre of art and culture. It is not a place for politics.
Is government framing a culture policy?
Yes. We will form a committee for the purpose within a week.
Will Bharat Bhavan have a distinct place in the culture policy?
Bharat Bhavan is our priority from the beginning. Our first priority was to constitute the Trust. Our next endeavour will be to restore its glory. Activities being conducted in Bharat Bhavan these days have definitely restored some of its lost prestige.
But, artiste community believes that the programmes in Bharat Bhavan are poor in quality and lack vision and planning.
If programmes are drawing large crowds and one has to put House Full board on several occasions, it indicates that the audience is liking them. I don’t say all the programmes are very good but presence of audience in Bharat Bhavan has gone up significantly. It is a certificate on quality of programmes. Silver jubilee of Bharat Bhavan is also due shortly.
Yes, we plan to celebrate the occasion in a big way. A sum of Rs 25 lakh has been earmarked for the purpose. We had sent a proposal to the Centre as well but it has not sanctioned funds so far. Don’t you think that theCentre is being indifferent towards your plans for Bharat Bhavan . It has not nominated its representatives in the Trust.
Such matters take time. The Trust secretary had been to Delhi for sanction of funds for the golden jubilee programmes. Maybe by the time they begin, the Union Government would sanction funds for the purpose.
Paucity of funds has been a problem with Bharat Bhavan. We have provided money as and when demanded. But, why don’t you make some permanent arrangement so that the problem is resolved once for all?
If the new Trust sends us any proposal in this regard, it would certainly be given a serious thought.
Do you think the Trust constituted to run Bharat Bhavan has enough able and talented artistes?
What is wrong with them? They are top artistes of their respective field. You tell me, who among them did not deserve to be the trustee?
But, compared to stature of artistes who manned the Trust earlier...? They are also very good. Their stature is no less than their predecessors.