The Telegraph
Monday , December 24 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Revival of art and culture my top agenda’

Talent hunt in districts

You took up a lot of assignments after assuming the post of art, culture and youth affairs minister. According to you, what are your major achievements?

Rajya mein sanskritik vatavaran ka nirman karna hi meri sabse bari upalabdhi hai. (My biggest achievement is that I have been able to revive the art and culture scenario in the state). When I took over the department, I found my predecessors had done nothing to encourage the art and culture environment.

Among the many new things I did was to give Bihar Kala Puraskar to veterans from the world of art who have had done a commendable job in their respective fields. We also started Bhikari Takur Kala Puraskar from 2012. We are felicitating noted theatre artistes with this award. Our department also organised Lokotsav in June. The main attraction of the event was that folk artists from the rural areas got an opportunity to showcase their talent. Rural artistes staged traditional plays at Premchand Rangshala at the event. Though the event did not receive a big audience, the artistes' excitement to stage their plays in the state capital was evident. Most folk artistes had never performed in the state capital before this.

In the sphere of sports, we organised the Kabaddi World Cup for women. Players from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and other countries participated. Such an event was organised for the first time in Bihar. Kankerbagh Sports Complex is also one of our major achievements. Now, we are able to host national championships at the facility.

But what are you doing in the districts?

We will construct 20 stadiums in various districts, so that players of the state don't face any problem regarding practice. We are soon going to organise talent hunts at the district level. We want to spot hidden talents across the state and want to help them improve their skills. We also want to make them financially sound. My second aim will be to build galleries in the state. Our department has gifted Bihar it's first art gallery, called Bahuuddeshiya Sanskritik Parisar. It was inaugurated this year on the Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir premises. The gallery hosted a national visual art workshop. Painters from across the country attended the event.

Art gallery controversy

Many experts feel that the art gallery does not follow the norms of such a facility. How would you react?

An art gallery should have a 20-foot-high ceiling. However, the height of the ceiling of Bahuuddeshiya Sanskritik Parisar is 10ft. As a result, artists cannot display big paintings in the gallery. It also does not have much space. This is true. But before starting the construction of the gallery, we had invited suggestions from art experts of the state capital. I don't know why they did not point out the problem then. They are complaining when the gallery is complete. But I will say opening an art gallery in the state capital is itself an achievement because no such initiative was taken before. This is the first art gallery of Bihar and we are proud of it.

‘Theatre fest in 2013’

Many seasoned artists say Bihar is still not capable of hosting National Art Exhibition because the state does not have galleries to organise such an event. Is it true?

Who told you Bihar is not able to host a National Art Exhibition? This is a wrong perception. We can use the lobby of Premchand Rangshala to organise a national art exhibition. Premchand Rangshala has a big campus. We can use the entire campus if we get an opportunity to host the exhibition. Let me tell you one thing. Lalit Kala Akademi has given its nod to organise Rashtriya Kala Mela in Bihar. We will host the event in January 2013. This is one opportunity for us because around 100 national artistes will come to the state capital to take part in the event. We will organise a national theatre festival in February 2013. It will be attended by around 20 dramatists from across the state.

Why does Bihar Sangeet Natak Akademi not have a by-law?

The by-law of Bihar Sangeet Natak Akademi is ready. We will try to get the nod from the cabinet soon, so that we can implement the rules and regulations.

Rangalaya renovation

Your department provided a grant of Rs 1.5 crore to Rabindra Parishad for renovation. Why did not you provide any grant to Kalidas Rangalaya, which is also one of the oldest cultural platforms of the state capital?

We wanted to provide funds to Kalidas Rangalaya for the renovation of its building. We approached authorities concerned for the purpose. But they said after renovation, the charge of the hall would increase. For this reason, they were against the renovation of the facility. After the renovation of Rabindra Bhavan, its authorities are charging a hefty sum for organising events. They are not wrong in doing so because money is important to maintain their state-of-the-art auditorium. People also have to pay a hefty amount if they want to hire SK Memorial Hall. But Kalidas Rangalaya does not charge any money to organise such events.

The job of a politician is different from a teacher because at times politicians have to negotiate many things, while teachers are known for their honesty. Do you find any similarity between your previous and present job? (Pandey was an academician before joining politics. She was the principal of Magadh Mahila College)

One thing is common between a politician and an academic: both need to have leadership qualities. I had leadership quality from the very beginning. This helped me to adjust in both professions.

What would you have been if not a politician?

As a child, I was always interested in the administrative service. When I went to college, I developed interest in medical science. I wanted to be a doctor.

But fate had some other plans for me. I became a teacher of the college where I used to study. Not only I served as the teacher of Magadh Mahila College but I went to become the principal.

About Sukhada Pandey

Born in 1949 in Deoghar (Jharkhand), Sukhada completed schooling from Mission School in 1964. She graduated from Magadh Mahila College in Patna and did her MA in Hindi from Patna University in 1976. She stood first in her MA examination. Her father, Pandit Vishawanath Shashtri, was a principal of a school in Deoghar, while mother Kamla Devi was a home maker.

‘It’s difficult to find land for Kala Gram’

Some veteran artists in the state capital had proposed a plan of Kala Gram to your department. What happened to the proposal?

We appreciated the concept of Kala Gram. If we can do this, it will be one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state. But you must realise that it is not easy to make arrangements for around a thousand artiste to stay at a place. It needs a lot of planning and, of course, money. The artists had told us to find a place that will be free of noise pollution. Tell me where we can find a place in the state capital, which would not face noise pollution? As of now, I can assure you that we have not shelved the idea. We are thinking about it. We would start working on the project as soon as we get
proper land.

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