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Revived after a gap of 12 years, the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi (UPSNA) awards, announced on Thursday, ran into controversy when some artistes alleged that the selection criteria was “unfair” and many deserving candidates had been ignored to favour others close to the panel, and announced to take the matter to court.
“Sixty per cent of the awards are being given to deserving artists but the remaining 40 per cent are simply being awarded to oblige the near and dear ones,” said Kathak exponent Surabhi Singh, who along with her guru Pandit Arjun Mishra, has already consulted lawyers and would be going to the court soon.
Pandit Mishra, who is one of the awardees, said, “I am myself a recipient of one of the awards but several artists from all over the state have expressed unhappiness over the selection criteria.”
Eminent vocalist Pandit Vidyadhar Mishra of Banaras gharana, said, “Some who had contacts in Lucknow managed to pursue their applications and were selected but nobody even knows these people in Lucknow, let alone UP. ”
Scheduled to be held on November 11, 66 artistes have been selected for the awards out of 115 applications , 11 for each year between 2003-2008, apart from 12 awards for Ratan Sadasyata.
Sitarist Dr Sahitya Kumar said she was hurt by the list. “The selection is based on yogyata(ability), yogdan (contribution), and variyata (seniority), but a look at the list of recipients does not indicate so; there are accompanists who have been selected. I wouldn’t mind if very senior people are given the awards but it obviously hurts me to see people who are much junior being selected for the award.”
Reacting to the allegations, chairman of UPSNA Naved Siddiqui: “There are some artists who are unhappy but there are 11 awards per year and we can’t hand out awards to everyone but the deserving persons. However, the artistes shouldn’t lose hope as we will award more persons next year,” he said.