India/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

In India, the Right of Access to Culture does not itself form a crucial part of the Right to Culture. The provisions of Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution have already been discussed in Section 5. The Right of Access in India works mainly under the doctrine of Article 19, concerning freedom of speech and expression, and includes the Right to Information, i.e. to modern media – to newspapers, television, telecommunication and, most recently, the internet.

However, outreach remains a key concern, and almost all the major state institutions in theatre, film and the visual arts have their own major outreach programmes. All Central and State Akademis have a variety of cultural outreach events, including Kala Melas (arts fairs), Sahitya Parishats (literary forums), art camps etc. The National School of Drama, New Delhi has a travelling repertory company that moves extensively across the country, and has specific outreach initiatives in the North East of the country under its Extension programme. The National Film Archive of India has literally organised thousands of film appreciation programmes, where internationally renowned works of art would be shown in Indian villages, and in schools.

Specific examples of outreach include:

SPIC-MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth), established in 1979, has now grown from an organisation bringing classical music to college campuses in Delhi to one that now has over 500 centres in India and abroad. It conducts over 5000 events annually, including lecture-demonstrations, festivals, and baithaks (intimate concerts). It also organises Virasat, an annual week-long festival comprising performances and workshops in folk and classical arts, literature, crafts, talks, theatre, cinema and yoga held in different educational institutions. Apart from support from various private organisations SPIC-MACAY has received support from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Culture.

Film societies: India used to have a vibrant film society movement before the era of television and DVDs. The Federation of Film Societies of India remains a presence in film festivals.

Music festivals: India, of course, has a rich tradition of publicly-organised music festivals, whose key purpose is to make the best classical music and dance available at cheap prices to the public at large. A unique example here is the famous Madras Music Season, organised by more than 50 sabhas and other cultural organisations in the city of Chennai in south India. The last season saw over 1500 performances of Indian classical music, dance and allied arts, seminars, discussions and lecture demonstrations.

District-level cultural centres: Several cities have district-level cultural centres (DCCs). In Delhi, the Sahitya Kala Parishad has initiated DCCs to ‘take arts to the people’, and to decentralise cultural activities, with a fully- equipped auditorium to organise cultural programmes and training workshops. The first DCC came up in Janakpuri, on the land of the Delhi Public Library on a 50:50 sharing basis. In addition to organising cultural programmes of the Sahitya Kala Parishad, the auditorium is available to NGOs, artists and other corporate houses for organising their cultural programmes, seminar and presentations at nominal rent. The second, still being planned, is at Vikaspuri (Bodella Village), where a piece of land measuring 4313 sq. meters has been purchased from Delhi Development Authority.

Chapter published: 22-04-2014