ডাকবাংলায় আপনাকে স্বাগত
In the last few days, the arts ecosystem in India was pleasantly reminded that organisations that were set up specifically to nurture the arts are still active and in motion. Often one is left wondering if these organisations such as the Sangeet Natak Akademi and Zonal Cultural Centres are dormant, hibernating, comatose, or perhaps ailing or lethargic with little or no response to the plight of their constituencies, even during times as catastrophic as the Covid pandemic. However, about a week ago, the Sangeet Natak Akademi published its list of awardees and hearteningly, in addition to the regular annual awards given by the Akademi, a one-time award was announced to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. This special award was bestowed on eighty-six senior artistes and arts practitioners who are above 75 years of age and who have not received any national award. The award also carries a purse of Rs 1 lakh. There is no doubt that there are many deserving recipients of such an award who might not have made it to the list of 86 who received the Amrit award in 2022, and yet this is a laudable and admirable gesture on the part of the Akademi.
The Amrit awards were announced along with the annual awards that the Akademi legislates. The annual awards are in three broad categories, namely, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award given to eminent artistes from different disciplines; the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awarded to outstanding dance, drama and music practitioners up to the age of 40 years, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship which is the highest honour that the Akademi confers.
In 2022, the Akademi made a bulk announcement of their awards for three calendar years, namely 2019, 2020 and 2021. Most of its activities had been on hold for the past years on account of lockdowns and the pandemic and hence the awards too had been on hold. The list of hundreds of eminent artistes and scholars is available online, but the Akademi’s own website has failed to update the list so far. It still provides the list of award winners only until 2018. One sincerely hopes that it won’t take three years to update its website that it did to select the awardees from 2019 to 2022.
The names of hundreds of artistes selected for the awards was therefore announced en masse about a week ago. Soon, social media exploded with the award winners, and overjoyed fans, admirers, disciples, family members posted happy pictures and messages of gratitude and thanksgiving. Gurus were rightly remembered and gratitude expressed. There were also a few grumpy awardees who grudgingly declared they were accepting the award, even though it was sorely belated. A sense of having been wronged, neglected and ignored is understandable, but why accept the award at all if you feel it comes too late ? Stand your ground and turn it down, or be prepared to not be nominated when the awards for grace, courtesy and sportsman spirit are announced.
Illustration by Suvamoy Mitra