Art and culture, high in minds low on budget
A look at the budget of the three states only confirms that they need to strategically reposition their vast and rich cultural heritage, art and history to partner tourism.Updated: Mar 12, 2019 22:30 IST
The three states in the country’s north western region have so much diversity in the form of priceless heritage sites and natural beauty. Yet, the governments in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are yet to fully exploit their tourism potential.
A look at the budget of the three states only confirms that they need to strategically reposition their vast and rich cultural heritage, art and history to partner tourism.
Punjab has a huge budget for cultural department, but majority of the allocation is for religious celebrations and establishments. The two-year-old cultural department in Haryana has an ambitious policy, but a low budget. Himachal Pradesh is yet to make a significant allocation for rich Pahari art and culture.
Theatre artiste Rani Balbir Kaur blames the bureaucracy and “its own idea of art and culture” for this. “People formulating the policies lack vision and understanding when it comes to allocating money for the culture department,” she said.
The Punjab budget for the next fiscal (2019-20) has Rs 346-crore outlay for cultural affairs, of which Rs 300 crore has been earmarked for the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak, setting up of a heritage museum at Sultanpur Lodhi as Pind Baba Nanak Da, Kartarpur Sahib corridor and establishing an inter-faith institute at Amritsar.
Of the remaining amount, the budget had proposed Rs 25 crore for Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority, Rs 5 crore for the centenary commemoration of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Rs 10 crore for redevelopment of Amritsar as an iconic city and Rs 6 crore for promoting Punjabi zaika at Hoshiarpur, Patiala and Bathinda.
“The amount is huge, but the distribution is not balanced. Akademis have not been given enough money to maintain infrastructure and promote artistes,” said Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi president Diwan Manna.
He said there were not enough avenues for promotion of art and literature in the state. “They have made buildings, but they are not maintained. Akademis get money from the Punjab Arts Council, which receives fund from the government. Last year, Rs 3crore was given, which included the amount for scholarships and grants to artistes as well,” he added.
Punjab Arts Council general secretary Lakhwinder Johl said, “There is no specific amount given for the promotion of different art forms. There are no schemes to promote music, literature or theatre.”
Punjab cultural affairs department director Malwinder Jaggi, however, said the state that had schemes having provision for joint budget to promote art.
When asked further about the amount or schemes, department officials seemed clueless. An official said, “There is no fixed amount but we provide money whenever the council needs it.”
The Haryana government has approved a KALASH (Kala Avam Sanskriti Haryana) policy to preserve and promote heritage, art and culture of the state and allotted Rs 19.14 crore for the cultural affairs department.
The department is claiming to promote art right from schools.
Additional chief secretary in the state’s cultural affairs department Dheera Khandelwal said, “The idea is to sensitise youth about our art, music, culture and heritage. Education solely is not enough. We have formulated schemes where budding artistes and established artistes will be encouraged with awards, grants and schemes.”
There would be a chain of avenues where established artistes would become trainer for upcoming performers, she said, adding that the policy also aimed to cover heritage sites like Rakhigarhi, Panipat and Kurukshetra.
Former vice-chairman of Haryana Kala Parishad and artiste Sudesh Sharma said traditional art forms, including folk theatre, sculptures and paintings, should be promoted. The budget of around Rs 50 crore is required to cover all the art forms and heritage sites, he added.
When asked about the low budget, Khandelwal said it was a tentative allocation and estimates would be revised.
Kangra paintings wait to flourish again
In the Himachal Pradesh budget for the next fiscal, no allocation has been made for the promotion of art and culture. However, under the language, art and culture department head, the state plans to declare Sanskrit as second official language in the state. Apart from this, it has proposed to start archaeological excavation in Spiti as “some evidence has been found which indicates existence of historical remains of archaeological value.”
Dhani Ram, who revived the pahari miniature paintings in the region, rued that there was not a single academy to encourage artists or promote Kangra pahari art. Even though the administration was taking initiative to promote art by giving space for display at airport and government offices, there was no special aid to preserve the art form central to the pahari culture, he said. “We just can’t tell the next generations about art forms. These art forms also need to be taught,” he added.
No official at the Himachal Pradesh language, art and culture department was available for comment.