Culture Ministry Is grading system for writers, artists one crore to be rated

NEW DELHI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 12: BJP leader Mahesh Sharma takes charge as Minister Of State For Civil Aviation at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan on November 12, 2014 in New Delhi, India. He also took charge as Minister Of State for Tourism and Culture. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Mumbai: The Indian government feels that a problem plaguing the official cultural space of the country is that a section of writers and artistes dominate it. The ministry justified the move saying it will prevent any exclusive group from dominating the official cultural space in the country.

Already, 185 artistes have been graded into three categories: O (outstanding), P (promising) and W (waiting) by a committee composed of ministry officials and certain artistes. Only artistes graded into the 'O' and 'P' categories will be sent to cultural festivals abroad. Once sent abroad, the artists will have to wait for two years before getting another official invitation to take part in a foreign festival, according to media reports.

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"The idea is to create a comprehensive profile of all personalities in the field of culture a definitive cultural directory and rank them as per their popularity, age and experience,” Union minister Mahesh Sharma told the daily. Asked about the grading system, Sharma said: “There was this usual allegation that only a selected few artistes or a group of artistes participated at various events. We want to send them to various places as per their grading. It will also fix their honorarium permanently.

Officials said when the cultural mapping project was launched last August, few expected artistes and writers “would rush in” to submit their details. Now they expect the figure to reach 1 crore. All the graded artistes were selected from applicants who responded to an advertisement placed by the ministry of culture last November and December, the report says.

Last year, a number of writers returned their Sahitya Akademi awards as a mark of protest against the "growing intolerance" in the country. Writers from 150 countries expressed solidarity with Indian authors and artistes who returned their prestigious awards in protest against "rising intolerance" in the country and have asked the BJP government to provide better protection and safeguard free speech.

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