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India: Memorandum by eminent theatre professionals to the Minister of Culture re appointment of Director of National School of Drama

29 June 2013

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Press Release

Theatre scholars and practitioners across the country have been extremely perturbed by the unwarranted delay and seeming drift on the part of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India with regard to announcing the name of the head of the National School of Drama (NSD), the country’s most prestigious drama school with a long and important history.

This delay-and-drift continues despite the fact that after all the necessary procedures were put in place, as far back as November 2012, the name of Ms. Arundhati Nag was unanimously recommended as the front-runner for directorship of the institution (on the top of a prioritized list of three names), by a duly constituted Search and Selection Committee of eminent artists and theatre persons. More than seven months on, the Ministry of Culture is yet to act upon the recommendation of the Committee and appoint Ms. Nag as the new Director of NSD. Meanwhile, disturbing rumours have been surfacing in the press and elsewhere, which has led to demoralisation among a large section of the community of theatre scholars and practitioners.

In a bid to stem the tide of such rumours and, more importantly, to underline the need for the government to urgently decide and announce the appointment of the head of NSD as per the recommendation made by the Selection Committee, which was in turn ratified by the apex governing body of the institution, the NSD Society, a Memorandum was drawn up, signed by distinguished individuals in the field of theatre, to be presented to the Minister of Culture. Among the 29 signatories to the Memorandum (which has been endorsed since by several more theatre practitioners and scholars) are the playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar, theatre scholars Shanta Gokhale and Rustom Bharucha, theatre artists Maya Krishna Rao and Seema Biswas, and theatre directors Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry, Roysten Abel and Veenapani Chawla.

On behalf of the signatories, Maya Krishna Rao (theatre artist) and Keval Arora (theatre scholar) met the Minister for Culture, Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch, on 27 June 2013 and submitted the Memorandum to her. They were informed by the Minister, during the course of this meeting, that there is no delay on her ministry’s part since the concerned file has been forwarded to the relevant department, and also that the Ministry is not bound by a recommendation of priority in the panel of selected candidates.

Nevertheless, in keeping with the best traditions of respect for the autonomy of arts and academic institutions, we expect the government to honour the unanimous decision made by the Selection Committee and to appoint Ms Nag as Director of the NSD without any further delay.

The text of the Memorandum and list of signatories submitted to the Minister of Culture is attached.

Maya Krishna Rao
Keval Arora

29 June 2013

Text of Memorandum to India’s Minister of Culture
27 June 2013