To put an end to vulgar, violent songs, Punjab govt to set up Culture Commission

The commission that will also have powers to monitor content served through social media, too, he declared, claiming that Punjab is the first state in India to have such a set-up.
Punjab cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu flanked by actor Gurpreet Ghuggi (L) and Punjab Arts Council chairman and poet Surjit Patar at a press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday.(Keshav Singh/HT)
Punjab cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu flanked by actor Gurpreet Ghuggi (L) and Punjab Arts Council chairman and poet Surjit Patar at a press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday.(Keshav Singh/HT)
Updated on Apr 01, 2018 10:38 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

Punjab’s cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday announced that the state government has decided to constitute a Punjab Sabhyachaar (culture) Commission to check “obscenity and vulgarity”, and the “glorification of drugs and violence”, in Punjabi songs. The commission will also have powers to monitor content served through social media, too, he declared, claiming that Punjab is the first state in India to have such a set-up.

At a press conference for the announcement, Sidhu, a former cricketer who has also worked with a comedy show, said the chief minister will be chairman and the cultural affairs minister (he, for now) the vice-chairman of the panel. For the membership structure and norms, Punjab Arts Council chairperson and poet Surjit Patar — who was sitting next to Sidhu — has been tasked with preparing a blueprint in two weeks, said the minister. Patar claimed the members will a “totally apolitical group of intellectuals”. 

The commission will have powers to register FIRs against those who violate a code of conduct to be put in place in the coming days, Sidhu informed, adding, “FIR will be the last resort. The commission will first urge the writers and singers not to promote songs that are harmful to the psyche of society and our coming generations.” Besides Patar, Sidhu was accompanied by actor and former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi, singer Pammi Bai, and some noted writers. 

Patar, asserting the need for the commission, said “the situation has become such that you cannot watch songs at your house with you children or parents”. “How Punjabi songs impact our society is for all to see. Despite wide-ranging criticism of singers and writers who are promoting such songs, the trend has not diminished. We have to stop it somewhere, if want to save our culture.”

Sidhu claimed that obscene content in songs becomes an incitement for sexual harassment of women; glorification of weapons and violence encourages people to commit crimes; and celebration of drugs pushes people into fatal addictions. Notably, the state police too have announced efforts to urge singers against songs that promote violence and the gangster culture, but not much has been heard about that after an initial set of meetings with some singers.

As for the system at present, the national-level censor board does not cover music albums, though complaints can be made to authorities, including private firms such as Google that owns video-sharing portal YouTube, on case-by-case basis.

From HT archives | Big Picture: Suggestive lyrics, discordant notes in Punjab

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