Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Saturday that the government was looking into the aspect of giving functional autonomy to national institutions, while ensuring proper accountability.

Stressing the need to introduce modern technology and management for preserving the country’s historical and archaeological wealth, Dr. Singh announced that the government would soon make appointments of outstanding professionals to head the Archaeological Survey of India and other institutions.

“We recognise that bureaucratisation tends to negate cultural expression and preservation. As a decisive first step we have liberalised the rules for recruiting the executive heads of eight national level institutions,” he said at the ceremonial foundation-stone laying of the second phase of the Science City and the tele-inauguration of the new campus of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies.

Stressing the need to make Indian museums world class, Dr. Singh said museum revamp had been taken up on a priority basis and the Central Advisory Board on Culture had been asked to suggest a plan of action . “There is no reason why the Indian Museum or our other premier museums should not be at par with the Smithsonian, the Hermitage or the British Museum.”

With West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at his side, Dr. Singh dwelt at length on the Culture Ministry’s plans for the State, saying that the Centre was examining a proposal sent by Mr. Bhattacharjee on the setting up of a Kolkata Museum of Modern Art through public-private partnership.

Fund utilisation

He said a special Rs. 90 crore allocation was made in 2009-10 to modernise four city cultural institutions — the Asiatic Society, the Indian Museum, The Victoria Memorial and the National Library. However he noted that these institutions had not been able to fully utilise the grant in the first year. “I do hope that these four institutions will work harder to use the allocated funds,” he said.

The Prime Minister announced that the Culture Ministry was finalising a scheme of financial assistance for setting up ‘studio theatres’ as per a demand from city theatre personalities, who sought assistance in setting up small intimate performing spaces for smaller audiences .

Referring to the upcoming 150th birth anniversary celebration of poet Rabindranath Tagore in May 2011, Dr. Singh said he had agreed with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to oversee the joint celebrations of the event.

He felt that a most fitting commemoration would be an organic revival of the national treasure that is the Viswa Bharati. Dr. Singh said the Centre had already sanctioned Rs. 95 crore through the University Grants Commission, for its upgradation.

For the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda, whom Dr. Singh described as a great teacher and a spiritual thinker, the Centre has earmarked Rs. 100 crore, and a national committee will guide the festivities in cooperation with the Ramakrishna Mission.