Chandigarh, April 13- The Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Seven Zonal Cultural Centres of the country began today with Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Chairperson, National Advisory Council, Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda giving a call to preserve and further enrich our folk arts and save those forms of folk art which are on the brink of extinction.
While inaugurating the Silver Jubilee celebrations at Panchkula near here Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh said that in view of the new means and techniques of entertainment that have developed during last 25 years, the Zonal Cultural Centres too should change style of their functioning and programmes. He said that the committee constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar to review the functioning of Zonal Cultural Centres, had submitted its report which was under consideration of Union Ministry of Culture. Action on its recommendations would soon be taken, he added.
Dr Manmohan Singh said that it had been observed that most of the programmes of the Zonal Cultural Centres were being performed in urban areas, therefore, the committee has recommended that at least 70 per cent of the total expenditure being made by the cultural centres should be in rural areas, small towns and urban slums.
He said that one of the recommendations of the committee was that the cultural centres should focus on those arts which were under threat of extinction. He said that we should preserve the traditional art forms of villages and promote them. He suggested that television and internet could give these arts a new dimension, therefore, the cultural centres should improve their productions and presentations.
Dr Manmohan Singh said that the Zonal Cultural Centres were set up on the initiative of former Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi who was very much attached to the cultural heritage of the country. He was of the view that the common man should get the opportunity to understand and appreciate our cultural traditions like dance, play, music and folk arts. He appreciated the role played by Zonal Cultural Centres in enriching the skills of folk artists.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi said that it was in the year 1985 that the then Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi had inaugurated country’s first Zonal Cultural Centre at Patiala so as to strengthen national integration and highlight Indian cultural heritage, which has now become a revolution. This initiative has given opportunities to thousands of artisans to exhibit their skills, earn income and have their identity. However, she regretted that for lack of maintenance, some folk arts have lost their glitter. While pointing out that artisans have their limitations, therefore, it was necessary that we preserve folk arts and traditions and give them a new identity. This is the purpose for which the Zonal Cultural Centres were set up.
She said that we should not forget that folk arts and cultural heritage are part of a dynamic process and new challenges should be faced. Basically the Zonal Cultural Centres were made flexible and they were beyond the political limits. It is the duty of the Zonal Cultural Centres to take their activities to villages in addition to the cities.
She praised Union Minister for Culture Ms Selja under whose charge the Zonal Cultural Centres are functioning nicely. She expressed satisfaction that the process was on to keep these centres functional. She said that we should try to promote the folk arts generation after generation.
Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda described folk arts as the carriers of our culture which enable our youth to connect themselves with the past . While describing the youth as the future custodians of the nation, Mr Hooda said that it was, therefore, necessary for our youth to be associated with our folk arts and heritage and understand the greatness of this country. He said that he believed that Zonal Cultural Centres could play a vital role in this direction.
He expressed concern that our youth were forgetting the significance of rich Indian culture as a result of the impact of new technological developments. This, he said, was a serious issue and we all should ponder over it and find solution to it. He suggested that Union Ministry of Culture should organize a structured conference and take an initiative to find ways and means to meet this challenge. He said that the Haryana Government has already dedicated the year 2012 to the youth. The government would consider all those issues during the year which are linked to the youth.
He said that it was the initiative and vision of former Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi that these Zonal Cultural Centres were set up. He used to consider the diversity of the country as its asset. Today, these Zonal Cultural Centres are aptly reflecting Indian cultural heritage and its diversity not only in the country but also abroad. The folk culture of Haryana reflects the simplicity of the people of the state, he added.
Mr Hooda also greeted the people on the occasion of Baisakhi.
Union Minister for Culture, Ms Selja said that the Zonal cultural centres were set up by former Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi and this initiative of the then Prime Minister had flourished and had realized his dream. While paying him rich tributes, she described him as a great visionary.
She said that as she represents this parliamentary constituency and this being a rare occasion to have both Prime Minister and Mrs Sonia Gandhi together here, she urged them to get Yamuna Nagar-Chandigarh railway line and also requested that the Innovation University to be set up in Haryana, be set up in her Parliamentary constituency.
Earlier both Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Seven Zonal Cultural Centres with beating of drums.
Those present on the occasion included Union Minister for Water Resources Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Governor of Punjab Mr Shivraj Patil, Governor of Uttar Pradesh Mr B. L. Joshi, Governor of Bihar Mr Devanand Konwar, Union Culture Secretary, Senior Officers of Central Government, Haryana and Punjab Governments and Chandigarh Administration.