"There has to be a rehaul in the way arts are categorised."
The minister of culture in India has introduced gradings to rate writers and artists.
As a pilot, the ministry has graded 185 artists into the following categories:
O for outstanding, P for promising and and W for waiting.
The ministry says the aim behind this is to minimise nepotism and the dominance of cliques on the cultural scene.
Officials say that the plan is to create a cultural map of India, to have a database of artistes eligible for performing at different levels and to fix an honorarium for each category.
Dependent on which category they are placed, each individual will have the privilege of enjoying the opportunities such as travelling and being a part of various events representing India.
The reactions to this have been different. Individuals who receive an O for outstanding have agreed with this change. Those awarded with a W have not been happy with this system.
Those who were graded are of high profile names, such as Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan (O), Padma Bhushan awardee and Carnatic musician T V Gopalakrishnan (O) Delhi based Akshara Theatre group (O).
The memorandum of the ministry says that ‘only those placed in the outstanding and promising categories will be selected for participation in festivals’.
The Minister of State for Culture explains the idea ‘is to create a comprehensive profile of all personalities in the field of culture and rank them as per their popularity, age and experience’.
These artists and writers will be sent to represent India at a range of events ‘as per their grading’.
Contemporary dancer and choreographer Bharat Sharma comments: “I’ve been saying for a very long time that there has to be a rehaul in the way arts are categorised.
“There’s a whole range of artists who don’t even get counted. This goes back to the way the Department of Culture was started.”
The application process is also simple. An individual of an art form is able to access the CCRT website, fill in an application covering areas like architecture, painting, sculpture, dance, theatre and written literature.
Officials have also stated that if anyone can submit an appeal for their assigned grade.