India/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

Over the three phases outlined in Section 2.3 – Development, Autonomy and Globalisation – what we see over these phases is a growing marginalisation of the nature of state involvement in culture. This marginalisation is of two kinds, one, in the extent of State involvement, and two, on the nature of such involvement. Over this period, state-sponsored culture – of the kind that might be promoted by Indian embassies abroad, or the cultural festivals organised domestically – would gradually lose its credibility, in comparison to other independent, market-driven, community-driven or even corporate initiatives. The corruption allegations leveled against, say, the Central Lalit Kala Akademi, or the marginalisation of the International Film Festival of India held in Goa annually in comparison to the growth of independent film festivals, provides a coincidence of a discrediting of state agencies on the one hand, coupled with growing (and preferred) alternatives for both making and showing art independently of the State.

The Government itself divides its functions into Central, State and Municipal levels (outlined in this section), and has sought to overcome its own crisis of credibility by supporting apparently autonomous initiatives including arm’s length bodies, new cultural foundations, etc. For example, several of its key institutions – say, the National School of Drama or the Film & Television Institute of India – are autonomously run, and there has been some evidence in changes in the administrative architecture that enhances this autonomy as much as possible through independently-minded Steering Committees, and Governing mechanisms. For many, e.g. the Haksar Committee (1990), this autonomy is effectively either nullified or rendered toothless by governmental interference in the form of starving institutions of funds or delaying appointments. The National Culture Fund and Zonal Cultural Centres (described in more detail in Section 4) is another initiative that arises from recognition of a State crisis in the area of culture.

To a great extent, then, the role of the State in cultural terms today has credibility mainly in its ability to support those who cannot receive support otherwise: i.e. the truly disadvantaged: the poor, the economically marginalised (in terms of culture these minorities would be both defined by caste and religion). How well the State can play its role in this area, or what the State can do to support independent initiatives working with these sections, remains debatable, but still relevant.

In the remaining section, we outline the governance structure of central, state and municipal governance in India.

Broad overview

Cultural policy, along with procedures for disbursal of funds for public purpose in culture, move from the Centre (various Ministries involved with cultural issues), State, and City (Municipal) levels.

Central administration: At the Centre, the Ministry of Culture plays a major role in the promotion and protection of India’s ‘cultural diversity and heritage’ (quoting from the Ministry of Culture’s Vision Statement of Citizen Charter[1]). The Ministry’s mandate emphasises the right of all sections of Indian society to conserve their language and culture as also the rich heritage of its composite culture (see Legal Mandate, Ministry of Culture[2]). Thus, the Ministry largely focused on establishing museums, libraries and arts institutions, and protecting ancient monuments and archaeological sites. The Ministry of Culture has numerous organisations under its jurisdiction. These fall under the categories of:  

In addition, as mentioned in the earlier sections, there are other ministries involved in culture:

  1. Ministry of Education, which  deals with arts education, and technical education relating to crafts
  2. Ministry of Human Resource and Development. which deals with a total of 153 educational and cultural institutions including Indian Council for Historic Research (ICHR), Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
  3. Ministry of Textiles, which runs the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), the Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation (HHEC), the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum.
  4. Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which runs the Khadi and Village Industries Commission.
  5. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as well as the Department of Science and Technology, which deal  with radio, satellite communications, television and cinema.
  6. Ministry of External Affairs, which looks into international cultural relations through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
  7. Ministry of Tourism.
  8. Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  9. Ministry of Minority Affairs
  10. Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which runs the National Institute of Design (NID)
  11. Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports

State administration: At the state level, the 28 states and 7 union territories that constitute the Indian republic either have a department of culture or a department that also handles culture (e.g. the Department of Tourism in Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli). The respective departments of culture centrally focus on the protection of regional languages and folk cultures and support of contemporary arts - literature, visual and performing arts.

Mirroring the Akademies that constitute the apex arts bodies at the centre, there are state Akademies in the fields of literature, music and dance, sculpture, visual arts, folk, minority languages and book publications. For example the state of Karnataka has a Karnataka Sahitya Academy (Karnataka Academy of Letters); Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy (Karnataka Music and Dance Academy); Janapada and Yakshagana Academy (Folklore and Yakshagana Academy); Karnataka Media Academy; Nataka Academy (Drama Academy); Book Development Authority; Karnataka Lalitha Kala Academy (Karnataka Academy of Fine Art); Karnataka Shilpa Kala Academy (Karnataka Academy of Sculpture); Tulu Sahitya Academy (Tulu Academy of Letters); Konkani Sahitya Academy (Konkani Academy of Letters); Kodava Sahitya Academy (Kodava Academy of Letters) and Urdu Academy.

Municipal administration: At the municipal level, there are local bodies that have concentrated on heritage/conservation and related structures, gentrification, reuse of vacant lands and arts in public spaces. Examples of important city-based bodies include the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC). In 1997 MMRDA constituted a body MMR-Heritage Conservation Society for creating awareness in heritage conservation and support for preservation and development of natural and built cultural heritage.[4] The DUAC was set up in 1973 to ‘advise the Government of India in the matter of preserving, developing and maintaining the aesthetic quality of urban and environmental design within Delhi’ and has been one of the more pro-active local bodies that has intervened in the preservation of cultural and historic meanings of the city in urban  planning development. Many city municipal corporations such as in Ahmedabad, Cochin, Delhi, Mumbai and Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) have in the last decade or so set up Heritage Cells, in partnership with non-governmental organisations. 


Chapter published: 22-04-2014