'Centre for Functional Autonomy to National Institutions'

'Centre for Functional Autonomy to National Institutions'
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Centre was considering granting functional autonomy and flexibility for effective running of national-level institutions and favoured liberalised rules for recruiting executive heads of such bodies.

"National institutions like Archaeological Survey of India need functional autonomy and flexibility to run effectively. We are looking into this aspect. Funds will never be a constraint when it comes to the question of preserving our cultural heritage," he said.

Singh was speaking at a ceremony on the occasion of tele-inauguration of the new campus of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies and laying of foundation stone of the second phase of the Science City here.

The topmost priority of the Culture Ministry was to ensure professionalism in the management of the country's vast cultural resources and institutions, he said.

Singh said, "Bureaucratisation tends to negate cultural expression and preservation and as a decisive first step we have liberalised rules for recruiting executive heads of eight national-level institutions. We are going to appoint outstanding professionals to head ASI and other institutions very soon.

"It is time for winds of change to blow through our institutions, museums, libraries and academies."

Turning to four premier cultural institutions in Kolkata -- The Asiatic Society, Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial and National Library, the prime minister said the ministry of Culture had made a special allocation of about Rs 90 crore in the current financial year for their modernisation.

Describing each of these institutions as a cultural icon of the country, he said, "Unfortunately these institutions have not been able to fully utilise this grant in the first year."

He, however, hoped that these four institutions would work harder to use the allocated funds to introduce state of the art systems of preservation, display and storage of their priceless antiquities, painting and manuscripts.

During the current fiscal, the Centre had given substantial additional funds to the Khuda Baksh Library in Patna, the Rampur Raza library in UP and the Delhi public library, he said.

The Prime Minister said his government believed in the plurality of Indian culture, freedom of cultural expression and in the importance of culture in social progress.

"For its long term salvation, culture must become a people's movement and we have to give culture a contemporary feel and relevance," he said.

The prime minister regretted, "Many of our monuments, works of art and historical remains are lying in neglect. Despite our best intentions, the manner in which we preserve and display our artifacts has fallen behind contemporary world standards.

"There is no reason why the Indian Museum or our other premier museums should not be on par with the Smithsonian, the Hermitage or the British Museum," he said.

The Ministry of Culture, he said, has taken up the revamp of these museums on a priority basis. "I have asked the Central Advisory Board on Culture to suggest a plan of action to make our museums world class."

Another important area where the government has laid emphasis was the need to popularise contemporary writing in Indian languages. "We have set up a National Translation Mission and it is making progress," he said.

Stating that modalities and funding were being worked out for the purpose, he hoped that in coming years modern Indian literature and "our classics" would be available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish and English.

"We should make effort to promote regional studies and study of foreign languages in India," Singh said.

He said technological upgrading of archives of institutions was a key priority. Institutions like the Sangeet Natak Academy, the Films Division, the Zonal Cultural Centres, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts had a wealth of valuable audio-visual materials which need immediate preservation.
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