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Keep academies free of party politics

Keep academies free of party politics

Those who hold positions in them should separate their politics from their positions and realise that they have a greater and more durable idea to protect. Otherwise the institutions will lose their credibility and standing.

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Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 22:55 IST
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Neither Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, who invited the heads of academies to a meeting at the Congress party office nor those who attended it have acted in the right manner. The incident showed a serious lack of propriety on both sides.

It was bad enough that Shivakumar convened the meeting, and it is worse that he defended it. If at all the minister wanted to meet the academy heads, he should have invited them to his office in the Vidhana Soudha.

When Shivakumar met them at the party office, it was the Congress president meeting them, and it was a political meeting. Academies are autonomous bodies and they should not be reduced to wings of political parties. Its heads are regarded as informed and enlightened. They should not have demeaned their positions by kowtowing to a politician. 

Shivakumar’s defence was misconceived and showed his ignorance or poor understanding of the relationship between the government and the academies.

A group of writers has demanded an apology from him for his defence. Shivakumar said that there was nothing wrong in holding the meeting at the party office because the academy heads were appointed by the government. But the government is not the party. The academies, their heads and staff, as also their activities, are supported by the tax-paying people, not by the Congress party.

According to reports, the academy heads were told to work for the Congress in the elections. The aim of the academies is promotion of the arts, literature, language and culture. They shouldn’t be promoting political parties or their leaders. Their responsibility is to the people, not to the ruling party. Both the minister and his guests should accept their mistake and express regret.

Culture involves all human activities of the mind, body and imagination which find expression in the arts, literature, sports, and social conduct and relations, including politics. Thus, cultural bodies cannot be reduced to political entities; they should preserve their institutional integrity.

Those who hold positions in them should separate their politics from their positions and realise that they have a greater and more durable idea to protect. Otherwise the institutions will lose their credibility and standing.

Standards of conduct fall and compromises are made when academy positions are given away as rewards for political or personal loyalty.

The Congress had rightly criticised the BJP government for politicising cultural institutions and pushing the Hindutva agenda through them. They would be hypocritical if they followed the same policy.

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