India/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

As already described, in the imagination of the Planning Commissions, ‘culture’ administratively comprises the departments covering Education, Economy, Human Resource, Communications and Science & Technology and, in disciplinary terms, includes at least History, Anthropology, Political Science, Design, Literature, Economics and Science, all of which appear to incorporate and even perhaps supersede substantial aspects of contemporary cultural practice in the sense of merely ‘fine arts’.

There have been questions regarding the effectiveness of inter-ministerial co-operation.[1] Also, as quoted earlier, as far back as the Fifth Five Year Plan’s Task Force on Culture, there has been concern within the government at the lack of coordination both between Centre and State initiatives as well as different ministries at the central level itself, recommending ‘greater coordination between the Department of Culture and other administrative units (which had) a cultural component… specially the fields of information, broadcasting, mass media, tourism, social welfare, agriculture and the welfare of industrial workers’.

There is some recent history of projects that the Ministry of Culture undertook in 2011-12 showing a new effort at inter-ministerial and inter-departmental co-operation. However, it needs to be asserted that major areas of cultural practice do fall through the cracks, through either lack of clarity of specific roles, through the inability of Ministries and Departments to ‘take ownership’ of initiatives, and through different and sometimes arbitrary divisions of responsibility (as already discussed).

Among the kinds of successful collaborations seen in recent years:

Conservation and maintenance of monuments:  Improvements in archaeological explorations and excavations, and upgradation of national level museums involved working with the Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, Department of Personnel and Training, Archaeological Survey of India and respective State Governments and Departments. In order to promote international cultural relations and goodwill through friendship societies, the Ministry of Culture worked with the Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Missions abroad.[2]

Intangible heritage of India: Among other efforts an Inter-Ministerial Committee has been constituted recently under the chairmanship of the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, to co-ordinate efforts to preserve the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, as represented by its multifarious cultural expressions, including crafts, handlooms, and traditional medicine. (See: Outcome Budget 2011-12 Chapter- III).[3]

Tourism: The Government has also set up an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee for Tourism Sector involving Member Secretary, Planning Commission, Culture Secretary, Secretary (Environment and Forests), Secretary (Rural Development) and Secretary (Tourism).[4]

[1]  “Federal instruments of inter-governmental cooperation have not been successful and effective in India because the required decentralisation has not been made. This is mainly due to our administrative centralization and earlier central planning structures.” Akhtar Majeed ‘Federal India: A Design for Good Governance’ _goodgovernance.htm).


Chapter published: 22-04-2014