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Government rejigs IGNCA board, draws Congress ire

Ram Bahadur Rai, former news editor of Hindi daily Jansatta, replaces Chinmaya Gharekhan.

Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: April 15, 2016 10:14:19 am

The government dissolved the board of trustees at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) late Wednesday night and reconstituted it with immediate effect, prompting an angry reaction from the Congress.

Veteran journalist Ram Bahadur Rai, who once worked with Jansatta and now edits Hindi magazine Yathawat, is the new IGNCA chairman. He replaces former diplomat Chinmaya Gharekhan.

Nineteen others on the new board include classical dance exponents Sonal Mansingh and Padma Subrahmanyam, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, artist Vasudeo Kamath, actor-director Chandraprakash Dwivedi, former Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) chief Rathi Vinay Jha and Professor Nirmala Sharma.

Asked about the move to reconstitute the board, Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “It should not come as a surprise to anyone. Change is inevitable. The new members are all experts in their respective fields and will take the organisation to new heights.”


Sources in the Culture Ministry said the government had made up its mind a few months ago to overhaul the management of the premier arts and culture organisation.

Ram Bahadur Rai, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015, declined any immediate comment on his appointment saying his “office hasn’t received any official intimation so far”.

Inaugurated in 1985 by the late Rajiv Gandhi, IGNCA is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture. Since 2007, Gharekhan was at its helm. Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan, former foreign secretary Salman Haidar, JNU professor Himanshu Prabha Ray and former home secretary G K Pillai were among its members. Padma Subrahmanyam is the only member of the outgoing board of trustees who has been retained.

Gharekhan said there was nothing new in what had happened since “all successive governments have been doing this”.

“The government has every right to reconstitute the board, change its composition any time it wants to. And all successive governments have done this,” he said.

PTI adds: Reacting to the reconstitution of the management of IGNCA, senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, “It reflects the mindset of the Modi dispensation. It is a cruel joke.” He said earlier the government “brought critics of the first Prime Minister on the Nehru Memorial Society. Now, it has done so for Indira Gandhi.”

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