Ad hoc measures adopted in appointments to the posts of heads of several key cultural bodies have rendered the organisations directionless and adversely affected the culture sector. The immediate fallout of this “temporary fix” method has also put the Centre in a tight corner over the final decision over the recipients of the prestigious Padma awards, just ahead of the Republic Day.
“A large number of artists are awarded the Padma awards after recommendation by organisations like the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) and Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA). But as these organisations do not have their chiefs appointed as of now, they may have to recommend the names through bureaucrats, which is constitutionally wrong,” said a source.
While National Archives of India, National Gallery of Modern Art and National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property are all operating without a director general each, the post of chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi is lying vacant too.
Similarly, the post of chief executive officer of the National Culture Fund is lying vacant. Besides, there are also vacancies at the top in the National Gallery of Modern Art (Bangalore) and National Gallery of Modern Art (Mumbai), Anthropological Survey of India and Lalit Kala Akademi.
In the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the term of the executive board and the general council expired last year. However, the government has not appointed a new board. Leela Samson, who was heading the Akademi, resigned last year.
“This is not a good thing for the culture sector. The situation is akin to a boat without sails. Things go wrong if these organisations do not have the right people at the top. I think the government should get some good people for these bodies at the earliest,” said Prof Kiran Seth, Chairman of Spic Macay, a leading cultural organisation.
According to a source, SNA functions are being adversely affected in the absence of a chairman. “Everything is in doldrums. Financial approvals have almost stopped. No major, long-term decisions are being taken in the absence of a chairman. Akademi, in real term, does not exist as there is no General Council. It is no more merely a ‘headless’ organisation, but is a ‘body-less’ organisation,” he said.
Anshuman Pandey, Director of Spandan Communications, a cultural organisation, said: “We have planned a number of activities like music festival. But we do not know whom to approach for getting support from these organisations. The government should fill up these vacancies fast to give a boost to the culture sector.”
Former SNA secretary Jayant Kastuar said: “I think the Narendra Modi government is taking the issue seriously. That is probably the reason why there is delay in filling up these vacancies. But effort should be made to speed up the process as any further delay will adversely impact the culture sector.”