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Azad asks Academy to extend activities to countryside

Award money for best books raised to Rs. 51,000; All India Hindi Kavi Samelan to be annual feature

By News Agency of Kashmir

Jammu : The J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages (JKAACL) has more than doubled the award money given annually for best books in different languages, even as Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has asked the premier cultural organization the State to hold a major cultural event as part of its ongoing Golden Jubilee celebrations this year and extend its activities to the countryside.

The Chief Minister who is also the President, JKAACL, was chairing the meeting of the Central Committee of the Academy here last evening during which several decisions were taken for promotion of art, culture and languages in the State.

The Chief Minister said he would explore roping in union ministries of civil aviation and culture to invite a major foreign cultural group to perform in the State. The event would form as part of the ongoing Golden Jubilee celebrations organized by the Academy in connection with completing 50 eventful years of its activities.

Appreciating the work done by the Academy for promotion of art, culture and literature in Jammu & Kashmir, the Chief Minister highlighted the need for it to take its activities out of the two capital cities and organize cultural functions at district and tehsil headquarters and in the hinterland. He said people in the countryside at large were not able to attend functions held at Srinagar and Jammu. He said they were equally deeply interested in their art and culture and would like to know about it. He said instead of restricting its activities to auditoriums and halls where only a small section of people witnessed the cultural performances or art displays, the Academy could hold mega events in sports stadiums to facilitate large number of people appreciate the work of artistes.

The Chief Minister asked the Academy officials to invite a cultural troupe from Central Asia to Kashmir this summer and another from Nepal and Bhutan to Jammu for performance at the respective capital cities. He also called for sending similar troupes from the State to other states and neighbouring countries to showcase rich cultural and composite heritage of Jammu & Kashmir. He stressed on quality of the cultural events, saying he would not mind if the programmes were organized in lesser number but the emphasis should be on quality.

Among the several decisions taken at the Friday’s meeting, the Academy decided to raise the yearly award money for the Best Books in different languages from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 51,000. The decision would serve as a big boost to writers in the State. At par with these awards, the institution of Best Short Film/Documentary and Best Photography Awards for producers and photographers of the State was also decided to be given annually by the Academy. Free travel facility to Academy Award winners in State Road Transport buses was also agreed to and the Chief Minister said necessary orders in this respect would be issued by the government.

In order to widen the area of Academy’s activities, opening of sub-offices at Shopian, Anantnag, Kishtwar, Udhampur and Kathua was also decided in the meeting. The Committee also approved annual grant of financial assistance to voluntary cultural and literary organizations and enhanced the upper slab of the aid from Rs. one lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakhs. Publication of 27 books in Urdu, Pahari, Arabic, Ladakhi and Gojri and monographs on the life and works of eminent writers and artistes of the State also received the nod of the Committee.

In other significant decisions, the Academy doubled the remuneration of artistes performing before the invited audience and decided to hold All India Hindi Kavi Samilan on the analogy of Urdu Mushaira organized every year and set up separate museum of folk music instruments at Srinagar and Jammu.

The Secretary, JKAACL, Dr. Rafiq Masoodi suggested setting up of Tahzeeb Mahal in the State Legislature complex in Srinagar after the legislature shifts to the new complex near the Civil Secretariat in the summer capital. He said the building is of great heritage value and would be ideal for the proposed Tehzeeb Mahal. The Chief Minister said the proposal merited consideration.

Dr. Masoodi said the decisions taken in the meeting would go a long way in promoting genuine cultural activities in the State and boost writers and other performers of different art forms in Jammu & Kashmir. He said the Academy had been in the vanguard of promoting and propagating art, culture and languages of the State and its achievements over the decades in these areas had been remarkable. He said under the guidance and leadership of its current President who believed in excellence, the Academy had widened its activities and aims at scaling new heights. He briefed the members about the activities taken up by the Academy during the current year.

The Committee also reviewed implementation of the decisions taken in its earlier meeting held about 10 months ago. The over all working of the Academy was also reviewed and received appreciation of the Committee members. The meeting was attended by Jnan Peeth award winner and noted poet, Rehman Rahi, prominent journalist, Ved Bhasin, Prof. Lalit Magotra, Quratul Ain and Renu Azad. The official side was represented by Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Anil Goswami, Commissioner/Secretary, Higher Education, Pramod Jain and Commissioner/Secretary, Finance, B. B. Vyas.