The Academys are astir

The Academys are astir

NO UNIFORM SIZE: BJP government’s decision to introduce one-cap-fits-all budget is making the academys seethe. A file photo of a Yakshagana performance.Disparity in allocation of funds is the reason for the acute dissatisfaction among such bodies.

The academies, which were till 2009 receiving Rs 16 lakh a year to carry out various activities that would enable creation of awareness, documentation and sustained preservation of language and culture, are, strangely enough, fuming at the government which has raised the budget of each Academy to Rs 40 lakh annually.

The reason for the anger is that the budget is uniform for all Academys, despite the difference in their responsibilities in terms of geographical area covered and activities organised.

Large number

Karnataka prides itself as one of those few States to have set up the largest number of Academys, in a bid to preserve its language and culture, 11 Academies, under the department of Kannada and Culture, out of which at least four are Language Academies.

Debunking the government’s stand of creating a uniform budget, the non-language academies like the Karnataka Sahithya Academy, Karnataka Nataka Academy, Karnataka Sangeetha-Nruthya Academy, Karnataka Janapada Academy, Karnataka Yakshagana Academy, Karnataka Lalithakala Academy and Karnataka Shilpakala Academy, have demanded that the government reconsider its approach.

The argument is that the jurisdiction of the language academies is limited, while the non-language academies have to reach out to all 30 districts of the State, making the idea of a uniform budget seem a little lopsided.

According to Janapada Academy’s Chairman Go ru Channabasappa, the government is impervious to the problem. There has been a long-standing demand that the government allocate Academy-specific budgets, after ascertaining the action plan drawn up by each Academy.

“It is important for the government to fix the budget after ascertaining the geographical jurisdiction and work area of each academy, like it is done with different departments.
The range of the language academies is restricted to a handful of districts, but these academies too are given the same budget as non-language academies. I wrote to the government about this two years ago, but I am yet to get a reply,” he said.

Compromises

Channabasappa said his Academy was forced to draw up programmes and activities with the limited budget, forcing it to make compromises.

“The academy wanted to publish a dictionary on Karnataka folklore, but due to funds constraints it had to be put on hold. Fortunately, the Kannada Development Authority agreed to set aside Rs 70 lakh for this project. Our programmes have been restricted to few districts due to the limited budget,” he added.

Channabasappa also feels that the creation of multiple academies had added to the problems.

“Earlier, all aspects related to languages came under the Sahithya Academy. The government should have empowered the academy and enabled it to carry out quality work. Instead different entities were created, which has increased the establishment cost unnecessarily. The Janapada and Yakshagana Academies were separated needlessly, and now there is a proposal to separate the Sangeetha and Nruthya Academies. The government should reject the proposal.”

A committee need to be formed to look into these aspects besides drafting a comprehensive culture.

Dr B V Rajaram, Chairman, Karnataka Nataka Academy said the present government had given a big lead in improving the budget, and his academy had been able to work on innovative projects like bringing out publications on the history of theatre, specific to each district.

He, however, said, “We are marking 150 years of theatre in Karnataka and a comprehensive book on Karnataka theatre needs to be published in both Kannada and English. This mammoth project requires huge fund allocation. The academy requires a budget of at least Rs one crore to go beyond its usual workshops, seminars and awards.

It is vital that the disparity that exists between the language and non-language academies is duly addressed,” he said.

Financial freedom

Rajaram feels that if there was a financial freedom, the academies could work much better. Fund constraints has stopped the academy from conducting technical workshops across the state, he pointed out. The academy was forced to spread out the exercise over three years, where 10 districts were covered every year.

M H Krishaniah, Chairman, Karnataka Sahithya Academy said that if the academies were to air their opinion on this matter more forcefully, the issue would take a political turn.

 “As long as the grants are limited, the activities will be restricted, which will only hamper effective documentation and preservation of language and culture. Unfortunately, these issues if voiced will take a political turn,” he added.

Interestingly, the language academies concur with the above arguments.

Chairpersons of the Kodava and Byari Academies Rani Machaiah and M B Abdul Rahman say the non-language academies were making a fair argument. But these academies can always seek special grants, which language academies can’t seek, they said.

 Tulu Academy chairman Dr Palthady Ramakrishna Achar however disagrees with the argument that his academy’s jurisdiction is limited.

Tulu Academy has to reach out to people not only within Karnataka, but also across India and the globe, because Tulu speaking people are everywhere. To chart out a meaningful programme, the academy does need equal consideration by the government. More than half a year has gone by, but the Tulu Academy is yet to receive this year’s funds, he said.

Ramesh Zhalki, Secretary, department of Kannada and Culture said the government was looking into the demands for more funds. Complaints about disparity in allocation of funds to the academies have also been taken note of. There is definitely a case for review, he added.

Director Manu Baligar feels that the academies were being unfair by demanding additional grants. He also said that the department’s decision to allocate a uniform budget was warranted.

“We will be harming the minority languages if at all we pay heed to this demand. Further, the academies need not worry about their financial health, because the department has set aside Rs 150 cr in addition, which can be utilised at any given point in time,” he said.

 

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