Kerala Kalamandalam all set to become state university

State govt gives affirmative response to proposal submitted by V-C, discussion held with chief minister and cultural affairs minister
Mallika Sarabhai
Mallika Sarabhai

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In all likelihood, the Kerala Kalamandalam, Deemed-to-be University for Art and Culture since 2006, will soon be a state university. A proposal has already been submitted by the vice-chancellor to the state government in this regard, with the latter giving a positive response.

Dancer-activist Mallika Sarabhai who took charge as the chancellor of Kalamandalam on Friday had discussed the proposal with both the chief minister and the cultural affairs minister. In an interview with TNIE, Sarabhai said becoming a state university will open up major possibilities to further synergize.

“It is time to get rid of the deemed university status and become a state university. This would impart clarity regarding the mandates of universities. This was one topic of discussion. This is a joint attempt by us, including the vice-chancellor and the registrar, to attain the status of a state university at the earliest. We hope our efforts will soon bear fruit,” Sarabhai said.

She further pointed out that being a deemed university is a confusing affair. “There are no proper rules or regulations. State universities, however, have a clear mandate be it rules, hierarchy, charters to fulfill, and the staffing. It would bestow upon us a greater possibility of collaborating with departments of dance, music and theatre, and visual arts in other universities,” she opined.

 To become a state university, the state government has to first pass the requisite mandate. The government has been very receptive in the matter. The vice-chancellor submitted the proposal and the cultural affairs minister is keen to go ahead with the same, she said. Sarabhai said she was initially taken aback when someone first got in touch with her seeking her willingness to take up the role.

“This was sometime in the first week of December. I was rehearsing for a show. When I was asked if I would  be the chancellor to lead a transformation of the university, I immediately accepted. It is indeed a wonderful opportunity,” she said.

Sarabhai was aware of the ongoing tussle over universities in the state.  “We have seen the dismantling of many educational institutions in the last eight years. It’s obvious what’s happening. Whether my appointment is political or not, I have come with the right credentials. I am very excited. The general feedback has been very positive. I’m trying to bring together all stakeholders. I have ideas and vision. One of the bigger challenges would be on how to incorporate this art form into the 21st century, without compromising on its integrity. We need to be intelligent enough to repackage arts for the current audience. Repackaging art is what will surely grab eyeballs,” she said.  

Last December, soon after its decision to remove the governor as chancellor of state universities, the state government removed Governor Arif Mohammad Khan as chancellor of Kalamandalam. Mallika Sarabhai was made chancellor in December.

Mallika Sarabhai came down heavily on those who raised criticism against the movie Pathaan. “They have an issue with somebody wearing a bikini. These are the same people who were watching porn in the Karnataka legislature. Such levels of hypocrisy in society coupled with mediocrity, fear and insecurity are beyond anything that I have seen in post-Independence India,” she said.

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