2 years on, Karnataka's Culture Policy still on paper

A recent CAG report has flayed the government for failing to implement the policy. The framing of this policy has been in the pipeline for two decades now, with the JH Patel government recommending it first in 1998.

Two years after the state government decided to adopt a Culture Policy, a first of its kind for any state in India to have, the policy still remains only on paper. The political instability in the state has pushed its implementation to the back burner, with successive governments not paying attention to it.

The BJP government is yet to take a call on it. Speaking to DH, Minister for Tourism, Kannada and Culture CT Ravi said he would hold consultations with the department officials on its implementation. "I am yet to study the recommendations. We will implement it if we find the policy acceptable."

Framing of the Culture Policy was an important milestone as it sought to bring in more accountability to the functioning of cultural academies in the state. Among the main agendas of the Culture Policy were bringing in objectivity with regard to censorship of literary works, decentralizing the Kannada and Culture Department and ensuring more representation for women and youth in various academies, among others.

A recent CAG report has flayed the government for failing to implement the policy. The framing of this policy has been in the pipeline for two decades now, with the JH Patel government recommending it first in 1998.

According to the audit report, the government constituted a Draft Review Committee in June 2012 to frame the policy. A Draft Cultural Policy was submitted by the committee in June 2014. Following this, a sub-committee was constituted in 2016 to study these recommendations. In turn, the sub-committee gave its recommendations in May 2017, which was approved by the then Congress government in October 2017.

As per the report, the government issued orders with regards to some of the recommendations, while an action plan on the others was still awaited.

Litterateur Dr Baraguru Ramachandrappa, who led the six-member committee on the policy, urged the government to implement it at the earliest: "There has been a gazette notification, which means that the policy should be implemented immaterial of which government is in power. There is nothing controversial about these recommendations which have been made strictly out of a concern about cultural development in the state."

Some major recommendations:

Decentralizing the Kannada and Culture Department by setting up regional offices, in order to reach out to concerns of artistes across the state.

Setting up a committee to place accountability for censorship of literary works.

Encouraging more women and youngsters as part of various Academies under the purview of the department.

Setting up of Tribal University, apart from Centers of Excellence for Prakrit, Pali, and Sufi.

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