How we fail our culture

Source: Times of India

Relevance: Culture and heritage should be given importance in government policies. Presently, it is being neglected.

Synopsis: India is a great civilization. But no government makes institutional investments for protecting its heritage.

Status of priority to culture and Heritage in India
  • Successive governments in India have given neglected culture
    • One, Cabinet does not involve a full-time minister of culture.
    • Two, persons that do not have any specialized knowledge of culture are being posted as ministers.
    • Three, governments have also invariably clubbed culture with another portfolio. More preferably, with the Tourism ministry.
    • Four, it is overrun by bureaucrats who rarely know anything about culture, and most consider it a punishment posting.
  • Inadequate Budget
    • One, the ministry of culture (MoC) is inadequately budgeted, and even the meager amount allocated is not fully spent.
    • For instance, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Culture pointed out that in 2010-11, the actual expenditure by the MoC as a percentage of the GDP was as low as 0.017%.
    • Institutions like the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, which are meant to propagate Indian culture abroad, have little or no money beyond what is required for fixed costs.
  • Vacancies: As of March 31, last year, 262 out of 878 posts in the Akademies were lying vacant.
Consequences of ignoring Culture

When culture is not institutionally invested in, it has two unfortunate consequences.

  • The first is cultural indifference, leading to a lack of interest in our own heritage.
    • One manifestation of this is the loss of balance between popular and classical culture.
    • For instance, in our country, even the finest classical dancers, who represent a tradition refined over thousands of years, find it difficult to fill an auditorium, even when the performance is free.
  • The second consequence is cultural xenophobia based on cultural illiteracy. When people don’t know enough about their own culture, they are easily swayed towards unwarranted cultural militancy to compensate for their lack of knowledge.
  • There are other indirect consequences.
    • Today, the land of the Natyashastra, Ajanta, and the ateliers of the Mughals, has no world-class galleries.
    • There are only a few curators, shabby art auditoriums, neglected museums, crumbling monuments,
    • Further, there are almost no serious discussion on art and culture, and worst of all, no committed audiences.
    • Artists of great talent languish in neglect, deprivation, or even penury.
How other countries are investing in Culture?
  • China has built over 150 modern galleries in Beijing, along with an art district. Additionally, the Chinese have invested in over 100 museums created to world standards.
  • Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines are investing in a dozen state-of-the-art museums each.
  • Hong Kong has devised a new cultural plan worth several billion dollars.
  • The UAE has earmarked over $30 billion for museums and art programs


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