NEW DELHI: Slouching on cultural matters is a thing of the past. The erstwhile UPA Government had sat over the irregularities in the Indian Museum in Kolkata for nearly a year, fearing the wrath of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA Government is in no mood to bear cultural insensitivity with a straight face. It has worked out a detailed plan for bringing the historic museum “back to its glory”.
Culture Minister Sripad Yesso Naik has taken up the task. He has deputed a senior official in his ministry for the job. “Our official visited the museum earlier this week and has found that everything is wrong about the running of the museum,” an official with the Ministry of Culture told Express.
The museum had been in the news for the wrong reasons.
First, it was the case of the severe damage to Lion Capital, a 300 BC artefact, built in the time of Ashoka the Great. Then, it was the sudden disappearance of conservation scientist Sunil Upadhyay, which is, still a mystery. “We have received a report which is scathing on the museum management. Whoever is responsible for this will be brought to the book,” the official said.
BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya had taken up the matter with Naik. Apparently, he had handed over a detailed report to the minister, asking for an inquiry.
The report was first received by the Ministry of Culture during the tenure of the UPA Government. But no action was taken on it. The government, which was on tenterhooks, did not want to worsen the already damaged relationship with the acerbic Trinamool chief. The report was put on the backburner.
“Nobody wanted to burn their fingers by taking up the case at that point of time, including the then Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katotch,” the official added.
Katotch had ordered an “immediate inquiry” into the lapses. The ministry’s investigation team, led by Additional Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) B R Mani had come up with a damning report on the state of affairs at the museum.
The team from the ministry was apparently “stunned” by the glitches in the handling of the artefact and the manner in which the lapse had been hushed up. But no progress was made on the front, as, some office bearers in the museum, who were connected to the TMC, had the backing of Mamata.
With Lion Capital taking a political turn, the Manmohan Singh Government had decided to tone down its strident pitch. The current government, however, has no hang ups.
Apparently, the Culture Minister has dug up all the ‘pending files’ within 30 days of assuming office and the process of taking action has started. “This ministry must be one of the most active ministries in this government,” said another official who was in the same ministry during the UPA rule too.
Cultural institutions and cultural activities in all the states are being closely monitored by the Modi Government, according to the official. This “hyper activity” was expected. Culture and related issues are the core of the BJP’s ideology.