Paralyzed Kala Kendra

Kala, a Sanskrit word, literally means art. Why should we be very pertinent about art so as to establish a Centre and allocate budget to it. This is an interesting question. In Indian civilization, art or kala has always occupied a position of pride and dignity. Unlike some cultures in other parts of the globe, India has been famous from ancient times for her encouragement of freedom of artistic expression, be it in architecture, fresco, miniature painting, temple architecture, music, dance and drama, poetry and literature. In fact, richness of Indian art has been recognized all over the world as one of the ancient countries that has produced eminent artist, scholars, and literatures. Not only that various regions of India are well-known for their respective indigenous artistic output which has enriched Indian civilization.
J&K State, too, has had its share in enriching the fund of Indian civilization. The first historic personality of the State who paid full attention to art, architecture and literature, and institutionalized it was Maharaja Ranbir Singh. It was his era of reign that the State formally extended its patronage to various streams and facets of art in the State. For example, Basohli miniature painting received great impetus during that period. Similarly, the art of shawl weaving and production of delicate tapestry in the valley were given full encouragement. Temple architecture was revived during that period and the Department of Archives was established where valuable manuscripts in Sharada, Pali, Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi were preserved. It was later known as Research Library. Local traditions of art in different localities of the entire State were also revived like those in Ladakh, Kargil, Bhaderwah, Poonch and other remote places in the State. This really made the State a mosaic of culture and art.
Some years back, the Government of India, Ministry of Culture devised a scheme of opening Centers of Art in some of the State capitals with a view to provide an opportunity to the artists of that region to find a forum from where they could reach the masses of people with a message of popularity of indigenous art and literature. Our State was also in the list of States that were identified for creation of a Center for Art. These Centers were established by respective Governments with the intention of popularizing their culture and thus attracting visitors and tourists from all over the world. A Center of Art would be an item of great interest to the tourists.
While such centers established in other states flourished with the passage of time and became very popular with local and non-local tourists, the scheme in our State is still only at embryonic stage. No interest is shown by authorities in providing the Center the wherewithal which would make it functional in letter and in spirit. Looking at the aims and objectives of establishing such a center and also keeping in mind the background history of all artistic and cultural input made by generation after generation of our people in this State, it makes us sad that the authorities have callously become indifferent to the fund of our cultural wealth and either ignored or even stonewalled revival of our rich and colorful traditions in art, architecture, handicrafts, genres of literature and other facets of creativity. The Centre for Arts which has been established presents a sordid picture of apathy, lack of planning, choking financial channel and non-recognition of the role of the Kendra in harmonizing cultural facets of our people. The important question is this: when Centers of Art were simultaneously established at least at three other States which flourished with the passage of time, why has not our project even taken of, leave aside bringing it to final stage of completion. There is red-tape problem, there is lack of funding, there is lack of initiative and vision and there is multiplicity of administrative control, all combined to make the intended center dysfunctional. Although according to the MoU signed between the State and the Central Government, grand multipurpose cultural activities were envisioned. Unfortunately, the ground situation is that not an inch movement forward has been made all these years in promoting the art and culture of the State. Breach of contract with Government of India, multiplicity of the administrative control, non-availability of funds and no creation of staff have rendered the grand multi-purpose cultural complex – Kala Kendra Jammu, virtually defunct notwithstanding Governor of the State being head of the apex body controlling all its affairs. The time has come for evincing extraordinary interest in reviving the artistic and cultural traditions of all the three regions of the State in a balanced manner.