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Artists in India React to Government’s Proposed “Grading” System

The Hindustan Times reports that the government’s move to grade the country’s artists and writers has provoked mixed reactions, with some calling for more clarity about the culture ministry’s decision. The proposed system of grading is part of a national cultural mapping project that the government is spearheading in an effort to create a national repository that could aid writers and artists. As part of a pilot project, artists are being graded according to three categories—outstanding, promising, and waiting.

Some who have participated in the project were against the grading. Anasuya Vaidya of the Delhi-based Akshara Theatre group, which was listed as outstanding, said, “There were artists from all over the country [in the project] . . . and a lot of them didn’t believe in the idea of grading of artists.” To participate, applicants responded to an advertisement by the culture ministry in November and December of last year. The dancer Geeta Chandran argued that “artists change; their abilities shift. We cannot give one grading and assume that that is for all time.”

On the other side, Kuchipudi dancer Shallu Jindal, who was graded in the promising category, said, “Any recognition is motivating and inspiring for artistes. A lot of artistes living in different parts of the country will get acknowledged through this. So the initiative of cultural mapping is a wonderful initiative.” A senior official in the ministry said the project will enable the government to streamline financial schemes for artists and cultural organizations and ensure transparency. A web portal is also being developed through the National Informatics Center for the collection of data directly from the artists as part of the project.