NEW DELHI: After Nehru Memorial Society, the Modi government today reconstituted the management of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) bringing in veteran Hindi journalist Ram Bahadur Rai as its head in place of Chinmaya Gharekhan, a former diplomat.
The appointment of Rai, a former news editor of Hindi daily Jansatta, as the President of the 20-member Board of Trustees of IGNCA, was announced by the Culture Ministry.
IGNCA, considered a Congress legacy, was established in 1987 when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts. Gharekhan was appointed during the UPA-I rule.
The reconstituted trust of IGNCA, an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, will be functional with immediate effect, an official statement said.
Besides Rai, the Board comprises 19 other members including classical dancers Sonal Mansingh and Padma Subrahmaniam, lyricist Prasoon Joshi and artist Vasudeo Kamath.
The other members of the Board are Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Nitin Desai, K Arvinda Rao, Bharat Gupta, ex-chairman Khadi Village Industries Commission(KVIC) Mahesh Chandra Sharma, M Seshan, Rati Vinay Jha, Nirmala Sharma, Harsh Neotia, Saryu Doshi, DP Sinha and Viraj Yagnik.
The Board also has Culture secretary, additional secretary and financial advisor of Culture Ministry and member secretary, IGNCA as trustees.
Padma Subrahmaniam is the only member in the outgoing Board of Trustees who has been retained.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma termed the revamp of the IGNCA management as something "not done for the first time" and noted similar steps were taken in 2000, 2004 and 2007.
"See it's a continuous process. Change is a continuous process. As a part of that, this change has been brought," Sharma said.
Sharma said the Government hopes to "take forward, promote and preserve the country's culture, heritage, art and literature in the wake of the "change".
He also noted that the new IGNCA Head has been associated with thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan, besides being a "noted" journalist.
"All the 20 people (named) in the list as trustees, they are experts in their (respective) fields," he added.
Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary said the party was not "crying foul" but wondered whether reconstituting the IGNCA Board was a "national priority" for the Culture and Tourism ministry at a time when it should focus on steps to increase foreign tourist arrivals.
Gharekhan downplayed the reconstitution of the trust saying "there is no mystery" in it as he noted that "all successive" governments have done the same in the past.
"There is no mystery about it. The Board of Trustees is always appointed by the government. Government has every right to reconstitute the board, change its composition any time it wants to. And all successive governments have done this," Gharekhan said.
Gharekhan said such a move was expected "for a long time" after NDA came to power in 2014 and wondered why it did not happen despite the BJP-led coalition being at the helm of country's affairs for nearly two years now.
The Nehru Memorial Museum Library Society (NMMLS), considered a Congress legacy, was reconstituted in April last year.
Mahesh Rangarajan had stepped down as NMML Director as he saw the BJP government questioning the nature of his appointment approved by the previous UPA government on its last legs.