PM regrets neglect of cultural icons

Centre to ensure professionalism in resource management

PM regrets neglect of cultural icons


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee during his day long trip to the State on Saturday. PTI

“The world associates us with our cultural showpieces: our monuments, works of art and historical remains. Many of these are lying in neglect and have fallen behind contemporary world standards”, Singh observed.

He was speaking after dedicating the new campus of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies and laying the foundation of the second phase of Science City here.

The topmost priority of the culture ministry is to ensure professionalism in the management of cultural resources and institutions, he said asserting that funds would not be a constraint in this regard.

“There is no reason why the Indian museum or our other premier museums cannot be on par with the Smithsonian, the Hermitage or the British Museum.”

Asserting that funds will not be a constraint in such acts of upgradation and modernisation,  he pointed out that the Centre is keen to ensure ensure professionalism in the management of cultural resources and institutions.

As a decisive first step, the government has liberalised rules for recruiting executive heads in eight national-level cultural institutions.

These institutions, he maintained, have a wealth of valuable audio-visual materials which need immediate preservation. 

Turning to Bengal, the prime minister rapped four premier cultural institutions in the city including the Victoria Memorial and National Library, for failing to utilise a special central grant of Rs 90 crore towards modernisation.

“Each of these institutions is a cultural icon in the country. Unfortunately, these institutions have not been able to fully utilise this grant in the first year,” the prime minister observed during the address at the Science City here.

Stating that the Centre is examining a proposal for setting up of a Kolkata Museum of Modern Art on a public-private partnership, he said the government is eager to convert the Acharya Bhawan of India’s great scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose into a science heritage museum.

The government has taken up revamp of the museums on a priority basis. The Central Advisory Board on Culture has been asked to suggest a plan of action to make the Indian museums into world class organisations, he said.

Singh took pains to stress that the government has been working on measures to preserve the cultural properties in Santiniketan and restore the paintings, sculptures and hand-written manuscripts of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Besides, the government has been mulling to display - for the first time since the 1930s - gems from Tagore’s art works in Paris and other important cities.

The prime minister wound up his programme with his address at the St Xavier's College that is celebrating completion of 150 years. He left for New Delhi on Saturday evening.

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