By Satya Narayana Sahu | PUBLISHED: 19, Jun 2019, 21:45 pm IST | UPDATED: 25, Jun 2019, 14:58 pm IST
Bhubaneswar: In reaching out to the artists through a specially Mukhya Mantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana of 2018 and providing a monthly pension of Rupees 1200 to both male and female eligible artists of 50 and 40 years of age respectively the Chief Minister has testified to his ardent love for art and culture and the empowerment of artists. The scheme also underlines his idea of inclusive growth. In fact Shri Patnaik has special interest, among others, on culture and his hobbies include reading and watching programmes on culture, history and environment. He has the distinction of being the founder member of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage(INTACH) a body dedicated to preserve our rich cultural heritage.
The present Mukhya Mantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana of Shri Patnaik is a hugely improved version of the 1976 scheme of pension for indigent artists. In fact the special interest of Shri Patnaik for matters concerning culture and art and the pension scheme of artists fulfilling certain eligibility criteria underlines the crucial significance of art and culture in shaping the collective consciousness of people and society at large. Our ancient wisdom encapsulated in a Sanskrit shloka or incantation affirm the truth that those who are bereft of literature, music and art are equal in importance to the life of animals. The unity of India is rooted in its culture and it endures with with its rich political, economic and constitutional dimensions which have shaped idea of India after the attainment of independence. In an article with a provocative caption “Britain as a colony of India” authored by the then Mayor of London Mr. Livingstone and published in Times of India in 2004 it was thoughtfully stated that while it is important to understand the emergence of India as a mighty country in twenty first century in terms of its huge military and economic capability, it is more important to appreciate the real strength of India which flows from its rich, vast and variegated culture. He then added that rest of the world and particularly the western countries have hardly understood India’s culture as its mainstay.
It is fascinating to note that during freedom struggle Mahatma Gandhi wrote that byremoving poverty, illiteracy and social backwardness of people an invaluable cultured human resource could be created and nurtured, It was professor Meghnad Shah, eminent astrophysicist, who edited a magazine called “Science and Culture” and stated that there is integral linkage between the two vital aspects shaping human society on a sustained basis. Our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru drafted the first science policy resolution and stated therein that it is inherent obligation of a culturally rich country like India to pursue science which has become the greatest enterprise of mankind. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, defined culture in terms of refined conduct on the part of human beings. Mahatma Gandhi said on 7th June 1947 that “I wish to revive our ancient culture which is rooted in non-violence and spiritual values. Our happiness, prosperity and peace lie in doing so. If we can revive out ancient culture, we shall serve as a beacon-light in the world’s effort to establish peace.” It was Gandhi again in a message to the UNESCO had urged for removal of cultural inequalities for establishment of peace.The first Education Minister of India Maulana Azad established institutions such as Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Sahitya Academy and Sangeet Nayak Academy and recognized the indispensability of art and culture as the basis of India’s unity and understanding among different sections of society.
It means that there was deep realization among our leadership at the formative stage of nation building that art and culture as a soft power is the strength of India. It is different from hard power. While hard power is based on compulsion, coercion and arm twisting soft power is based on persuasion and attraction. It is said that India is a super power in soft power at the core of which remain art and culture. The persuasive and attractive power of our culture is deeply felt at every level. Women’ empowerment is part of the soft power and that is why Shri Naveen Patnaik has taken pioneering measures in this respect. In his address to the NITI Ayog he urged the Union Government to empower women at every level.
The pension scheme for artists introduced in Odisha by Shri Naveen Patnaik Government has to be seen in terms of empowering artists who have enriched soft power of Odisha and continue to do so in spite of facing numerous challenges. In fact during the recent elections conducted in Odisha special meetings of artists and musicians were organized in several constituencies by BJD to explain the significance of their contributions. In Kendrapada parliamentary constituency several such meetings were organized by a young lady Shrimati Jyochnamayee Parida who herself is an artist. She brought together artists and musicians in mango groves in open air and in a monastery even as it was hot and humid. I had the privilege of addressing some of those meetings and explaining the deeper significance of art and culture in nation building and gratefully conveying them that their roles as exponents and practitioners of art and culture have been invaluable in shaping the identity of Odisha as a reservoir of cultural resources. In all those meetings it was also conveyed to them that the pension scheme has been introduced as a token of appreciation of their valuable services rendered to society. Such empowerment of artists combined withempowerment of people, students, women, farmers, youth,scheduled castes and minorities unmistakably testify to Government’s commitment to inclusive development which constitutes categorical imperative of governance.
#The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure as Director in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat.