A committee formed by Sanskar Bharti — an RSS affiliate — met Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Tuesday and urged him to reconsider the move for the eviction of more than 20 eminent artistes from government accommodation in the Capital.
This committee headed by RSS Pracharak Amir Chand gave a memorandum to the minister and urged him to formulate a new housing policy for them and rethink the decision on humanitarian grounds.
The artistes include veteran names such as Kathak exponent Birju Maharaj, Mohiniyattam dancer Bharati Shivaji, dhrupad vocalist Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, santoor player Bhajan Sopori and Kathak guru Geetanjali Lal, among others
“We have put forth our memorandum regarding a new housing policy in front of the ministry. At the time of a pandemic, on humanitarian grounds, it’s important that we understand that these are the people of our country and artistes of the country. The ideologies can be different on this matter but this will be difficult for them in times of Covid 19,” said Pankaj Pathak, branch head of Sanskar Bharati, Delhi.
Representatives of the organisation also met Maharaj and Dagar on Saturday and gave them assurance about the future of their homes.
Pathak said the decision of the ministry may be well within the rules but the eviction notice was inappropriate on humanitarian grounds.
Since the 70s, artistes between the age of 40-70, many of whom are now Padma and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees, were allotted accommodations at nominal rents for three-year terms which were extended regularly. The extensions expired in 2014 and there has been a constant back and forth of letters between the artistes and the Culture Ministry since then. The quota for the Culture Ministry allowed for 40 residential units. While 23 have been vacated till date, the rest are still occupied.
Kuchipudi dancer Vanashree Rao, also the wife of Kuchipudi guru Jayarama Rao, told The Indian Express that she was hopeful post the meeting. “This is not just a house for us. It’s a place where we practise our artform and teach our students. Artistes don’t have any pension that they can feel secure. This house has been a huge help to us from the government. It will be very difficult for us to get evicted during a pandemic at our age and look for other accommodation. We have given our lives to this artform and achieved acclaim for the country nationally and internationally. This time it feels like our country does not need us,” she said.
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