The very mention of Indian culture brings to mind its sheer diversity both in form and content. But this mental picture is quite different from how narrowly we view it now. Today, there is a tendency to homogenise— like running a road-roller over the cultural fabric of India. While mass media— largely television and cinema— has usurped most of our attention, culture, in the more conventional sense of live performance, is also fast gaining a glamour quotient. One does see more imagination being put into programming and venues today. Can we, then, stop lamenting about how Indian culture is deteriorating? Perhaps not till we’ve found answers to some pressing questions: Whose responsibility is it to safeguard culture? Who will be the patron? Can the thousands for whom their art form is their livelihood survive? And are they surviving now?
Some of these concerns saw a silver lining in a report released recently by the review committee of the zonal cultural centres (ZCCS) under the ministry of culture— in its silver jubilee year, significantly. The ZCCS, created under Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership, are located in seven cities across the country. They were set up with the intention of bringing India’s resurgent cultures to its masses and, in this spirit, they were not situated in state capitals, but in smaller cities with an important connection to culture. So, Thanjavur instead of Chennai, Shantiniketan and not Calcutta.