Even as the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has moved a proposal for the Cabinet’s consideration to declare Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) “an institution of national importance”, its minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore continues to be in a process of consultation for appointing its president. FTII, an autonomous institution under the I&B Ministry, does not have a president for more than a year now since Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s term ended in March 2014.
What is causing embarrassment to the ministry is its inability to place the institution’s annual report and audited accounts for the last financial year in Parliament. The accounts of the institute have to be approved by a Standing Finance Committee, which is chaired by the president.
Government sources said the ministry had prepared and sent a shortlist of eminent personalities including Gulzar, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan to the minister’s office in September 2014. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took charge as the Cabinet minister for I&B too in November 2014, and along with him Rathore was appointed as Minister of State (I&B). Appointments to various bodies such as FTII, the censor board, the Children’s Film Society, etc are handled by Rathore.
When contacted, actor Raza Murad, who is listed as a member of the governing council, told The Indian Express, “I am not sure if I am still a member. My term was for two years, but I have not received any communication from FTII if it has been extended or if it has expired.” Murad said all important decisions have to be taken by the governing council, but it has not met even once since the new government was elected.
Former FTII president Saeed Akhtar Mirza did not respond to calls.
The FTII president also serves as the chairperson of FTII’s governing council, the apex body responsible for making all policy decisions. The governing council also appoints the Academic Council and the Standing Finance Committee which, in turn, are responsible for advising FTII in policy matters relating to academic and financial matters. Both these are chaired by the president.
Rathore did not respond to calls, text message and a detailed questionnaire mailed to him Wednesday evening. His office confirmed receipt of the email. All that the sources in the I&B Ministry said was that the president will be appointed at the earliest.