Wrong person to head Kalakshetra

It was wrong on the part of the NDA government to appoint former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami as the chairman of the Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai.

 The Union culture ministry made the appointment last week and Gopalaswami has taken charge. He has come in place of former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi who resigned when the new government came to power after the Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi had been appointed by the UPA government and so he considered it his moral responsibility to resign when the government lost power. It is unfortunate that the tenure of persons who are at the helm of important cultural institutions should depend on the outcome of elections and the nature of governments that come to power after them. The fact that Gandhi decided to resign his position in the wake of the elections showed the link between politics and these positions. 

The appointment of Y Sudershan Rao,  who has no great credentials as a historian, as the chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research a few weeks after the NDA government came to power, had shown that politics and closeness to the ruling establishment are the deciding factors in such appointments.  Kalakshetra is India’s premier cultural institution devoted to the study, teaching and promotion of Bharatanatyam and music.

 It has grown in stature through over seven decades ever since it was founded by Rukminidevi Arundale and has now earned an unequalled place among the country’s institutions of art. This was because of the excellence of its work in its own field.

  Gopalaswami’s background and past careers do not make him the right candidate to head that institution. His work and experience as the CEC do not help him to discharge his responsibilities at Kalakshetra. Before becoming the CEC, he was a member of the IAS.  This is also no qualification for the Kalakshetra job. The Kalakshetra chairman’s position is not administrative and does not involve day-to-day management of the academy.  So, administrative experience cannot be a relevant consideration in the appointment. 

An interest in arts and music, which many people have, do not make anyone fit to hold top positions in institutions which are devoted to work in these areas. Such positions should go to persons of eminence who have proved their ability in these areas and are dedicated to them.

There is a tendency to appoint former IAS officers and persons close to the political leadership in such positions. This will harm the cause of these institutions and adversely affect their credibility and stature. With the appointment of Gopalaswami at Kalakshetra, the NDA government has missed another opportunity to show that it cared for the sound functioning of these institutions.

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