A question of credentials

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:35 pm IST

Published - June 23, 2015 01:57 am IST

While the Bharatiya Janata Party government has, on the one hand, been striving to pursue a growth- and development-oriented agenda with a firm emphasis on the economic and foreign policy fronts, on the other hand the question has come up too often whether it is meanwhile systematically seeking to use the Ministries related to culture, information, education and human resources to push itself away from values promoting excellence and expertise when it comes to certain key appointments. This is the only possible explanation for the choice of those with uncertain credentials for some important institutional appointments. In the latest instance, the choice of >Gajendra Chauhan for the post of chairman of the governing council of the Film and Television Institute of India, and other members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to be members of the FTII Society, has raised the hackles of students of the institute and members of the larger cinema fraternity. Mr. Chauhan is better known for his portrayal of the character of Yudhisthira in the popular television serial Mahabharata in the 1980s. His filmography includes a string of films of a certain kind, and there is little in his repertoire that qualifies him to chair a premier institution imparting quality cinematic training. It is clear that the choice made by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is based on his leanings. He is a BJP member, and wears his affiliation on his sleeve.

Of course, the BJP is not alone when it comes to injecting political bias into the process of selecting persons for such posts, but the present government seems rather brazen compared to its predecessors in ignoring qualifications or merit in making appointments. The Ministry >recently appointed a number of Sangh Parivar and BJP affiliates to the Central Board of Film Certification panel, seemingly with hardly a thought for credentials, eminence or qualifications. The new chairperson of the CBFC, for example, is someone who had directed run-of-the-mill films in the past. The Human Resource Development Ministry recently appointed a historian with barely any peer-reviewed work in the field, to the post of chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research, >Y. Sudershan Rao . To boot, he holds controversial views that conflate mythological elements with history. The BJP’s victory in 2014 was predicated on its promise of overhauling governance to achieve economic growth and development. It is impossible to imagine that the mandate was for the fulfilment of any kind of self-serving agenda or sharing of the spoils. The government should not allow itself to veer away from the pursuit of excellence and put in peril the integrity of its institutions.

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