‘Institutions shouldn’t be named after politicians’

New Delhi: Well-known scholar Kapila Vatsyayan, the founding director of IGNCA, is against naming of institutions after political leaders saying organisations get “thwarted by pettiness and misconception” in the event of a change in the political dispensation.
Growth of an institution without the possibility of total dependency and any self-reliance or self-accountability depends on the relationship of the government and the autonomous bodies of its creation and also the smoothness of inner structures and administrative systems within the institutions, she says.
“Once there is political hostility, then the same arms of the State are used in order to destroy the very institutions that are built by a decision of the state,” she tells author Jyoti Sabharwal in her biography Kapila Vatsyayan: Afloat a Lotus Leaf.
The books talks about conflict and rivalries in the art world, positive and negative fallout of Festivals of India, controversies surrounding the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Vatsyayan working closely with Jawaharlal Nehru, S Radhakrishnan and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad among other things.
In 1987, Vatsyayan was made the founder trustee and member secretary of the IGNCA and became its academic director in 1993.
The Vajpayee government dropped her from the centre’s Board of Trustees in 2000. In 2005, when the UPA government came to power, she was made the chairperson of the institution.
The IGNCA was launched on November 19, 1985 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was meant to serve as a major resource centre for the arts, especially written, oral and visual materials.
Vatsyayan, 86, suggests that institutions established by the will of the government, or through Parliament resolutions should have an inbuilt system wherein there is balance between the autonomy and accountability. She advocates that continuity of the perspectives of an institution should not be disturbed on account of pressures of political ideology, or antagonism by a successive government in regard to the decisions of a previous government.
She says the major lesson she learnt from the IGNCA being set up as an autonomous trust and the government’s decision to take it over after a period of 15 years is that “perhaps institutions should not be named after political leaders.”
It was all about political motivation, for as she says, the IGNCA was not created through legislation but a government resolution. The book, brought out by Stellar Publishers, also talks about why and how India got trapped in Macaulay’s System of Education and the concept of ‘Basic Education’ did not get off the ground.
As a cultural ambassador, who signed almost 40 treaties for cultural exchange programme with different countries in the decades of 1950s and 60s, Vatsyayan underscores the fact that Maulana Azad wanted the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) to remain an integral part of Education Ministry and not the External Affairs.
He wanted ‘cultural diplomacy’ to be an implicit arm of ‘political diplomacy’ irrespective of political equations.
As a young ‘cultural officer,’ Vatsyayan accompanied the first Chinese delegation in December of 1954, a few months after ‘Panchsheel’ was signed, to various parts of the country in a special train along with six officials from External Affairs that included the Foreign Secretary R K Nehru, T N Kaul and K Natwar Singh.
Vatsyayan also speaks about how Radhakrishnan handpicked her to be closely involved at the embryonic stages of setting up the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla. (PTI)

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