For the first time in the 60-year-old history of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, a member of one of its troupes visiting a foreign country for a performance has fallen to a brutal terrorist attack. Nawab Khan, a respected tabla player of the Delhi gharana, was killed by the notorious Taliban during a bomb attack aimed at Indian visitors staying at a Kabul guest house. Son of well known sarangi player Banne Khan, Nawab Khan was part of a three-member troupe sent by the ICCR to the troubled nation for a couple of performances. Following his tragic death, ICCR Director General Virendra Gupta announced that Rs.10 lakh compensation will be paid to the immediate family of Nawab Khan, and a job will be given to his son at ICCR. Here, Gupta takes a few questions related to the tragic incident.
Do you think this act of violence will dissuade artistes from visiting troubled nations in our neighbourhood?
I don't think there will be any such fear in the mind of artistes. They have been going to countries with problems and never have they met any trouble. We are always very conscious of the safety and security of our artistes. This is the first time that such a tragedy has happened.
Now that it has happened, is the cultural body thinking of setting aside an emergency fund for such unfortunate and unforeseen events?
No, simply because we don't foresee such a situation in the future. Situations keep changing.
Does ICCR have any policy of insuring the artistes they send out on cultural trips?
We organise only medical insurance.
How vibrant is our cultural exchange with Afghanistan?
Visiting artistes to and from Afghanistan are very common now. To give you an idea, we had an Afghan music band recently. From March 8 to 15, we are getting an Afghan theatre group here. Some Afghan writers are coming to our South Asian Literature Festival later this month. An Afghan painter is a part of an ongoing artists' camp in Pondicherry. ICCR has a cultural centre in Afghanistan.