Parliament panel asks Centre for uniform disbursal of cultural funds
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Parliament panel asks Centre for uniform disbursal of cultural funds

In its latest report, the parliamentary panel on travel, tourism and culture has asked for “equitable allocation” of funds after it noticed that 69% of the recipients of the scheme belonged to just three of 29 states in India.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2018 08:28 IST
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The parliamentary panel on travel, tourism and culture has asked for “equitable allocation” of funds.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The Union culture ministry has been asked to ensure “uniform representation of the whole country” when it distributes myriads of fellowships, scholarships, grants and pensions to artists and organisations every year, after data showed that there was a significant concentration of these in a few states.

In its latest report, the parliamentary panel on travel, tourism and culture has asked for “equitable allocation” of funds after it noticed that 69% of the recipients of the scheme belonged to just three of 29 states in India.

The culture ministry’s records showed that out of the 1625 artistes selected for financial assistance in 2017-18, 1122 were from Odisha, Maharashtra and Telangana. A total of ~ 14.04 crore was earmarked for scholarships and stipends in 2018-19.

Culture ministry officials said that artists are selected on the basis of prescribed procedure. The scheme for pension, for instance, entails that applications should be recommended by the state government who provide at least ~500 as pension to the applicant artists.

“India is an amalgamation of many distinct cultures and the allocation of the majority of the grants of the ministry to artists and organisations of only a few states goes against the spirit of such schemes...” the panel said.

In the 2018-19 budget, the culture ministry received ~2843 crore from the exchequer, of which almost ~1500 crore is earmarked for different schemes and affiliated autonomous bodies.

Ministry officials pointed out that selection panels comprised both government officials and renowned experts of that particular field. Theatre personality Kaushik Sen emphasised that there are indeed cases of favouritism in different schemes of art and culture for central grants.

“After this BJP government came to power, it has really become very difficult to access the Centre’s grant, especially in my field,” Sen told Hindustan Times (HT). “Now, we have to furnish details of Swachh Bharat activities, face derogatory questions to get cultural grants...,” Sen added.

The panel also told the government that in case of lack of adequate representation of artists or organisations from a state, “the reasons behind the lack of representation should be looked into and necessary remedial action may be taken without delay.”

To ensure better transparency and eradicate favouritism, the panel also said that information related to beneficiaries should be posted on the ministry’s website.

First Published: Dec 29, 2018 08:28 IST