ICCR culture shock in external affairs
By Pratul Sharma - NEW DELHI
Published: 08th Sep 2013 08:41:35 AM
What’s sauce for the External Affairs Ministry isn’t sauce for the Ministry of Culture. India’s premier agency for cultural diplomacy, the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) run by the Ministry of External Affairs may soon change hands.
The 63-year-old autonomous body’s mandate is to promote Indian culture abroad and is part of the government’s strategic use of soft power to woo foreign countries. MEA feels that hard selling India’s soft power in foreign countries through exchange of artistes, exhibitions, festivals, and even yoga is a better fit with the culture ministry. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch met this week to discuss the modalities of the transfer.
To start with, the culture ministry would take over some of ICCR’s cultural activities. Sources confirmed to The Sunday Standard that Katoch was open to the idea mooted by Khurshid.
Culture ministry sources said that the discussions are in their early stages. “The ministry of external affairs wants us to look after the cultural aspect of the ICCR. We will study how this can be done,” a source said.
More meetings are planned to discuss how the foreign ministry could outsource the cultural activities aspect to the culture ministry in case it wants to retain administrative control. External Affairs Ministry sources said the culture ministry has made such recommendations for the transfer of responsibility in the past as well.