Jammu: The government on Friday said that no government document, including the ones documenting cabinet decisions, been preserved in the state’s archives for the past 31 years.
The last time, the state documents have been archived was in 1985 when Ghulam Muhammad Shah was ruling the state with the support of the Congress.
On Friday, minister for finance and culture Dr Haseeb Drabu issued six months deadline to the department of archives to archive all cabinet decisions. He instructed to make the archiving a regular feature.
“I want to see from now every cabinet decision, every government order of structural importance and other important documents archived,” Drabu instructed the officers.
Drabu linked the restoration of peace in the state with the revival of culture and listed it as the “only way to have sustainable peace in the state”. “There is need to have cultural awareness among the people for sustainable normalcy in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. I see revival of culture and values as the only way to get back the state to sustainable normalcy,” he told officers in a meeting here. Minister of state for culture Priya Sethi was also in the meeting. He asked the officers to frame a comprehensive culture policy “oriented towards creation of a vibrant cultural movement in the state.”
He said the purpose of the department of culture was not to create government jobs. ”The department of culture is for the people and not for the government or for government jobs. The department should have independent identity and should have presence in the public spheres,” he said.
He asked the officers not to focus on Srinagar and Jammu cities only but move beyond to other regions with the objective to renew, revive and restore cultural heritage of J&K.” Underscoring the importance of culture he said that the culture would keep us alive for hundreds of years to come. “It (culture) is an identity which we need to take care of,” Drabu said.
While disapproving prioritizing the construction works only, Dr Drabu advised the officials to differentiate between department of culture and other departments. “Department of culture should not be treated as a works department. Come out of this construction mode and start initiatives by leveraging technology and already available public spaces,” he said and added that “cultural kiosks should be opened at public places where people would come and learn about the richness of our cultural heritage”
For preservation of Heritage monuments, Dr Drabu told the officers concerned to rope in reputed conservation architects for developing a proper system for conservation initiatives. “We are fond of fencing two things; monuments and graveyards and probably that is our concept of conservation.” He assured full financial support for the conservation projects duly conceptualized by professionals.
Referring to monuments like those in south Kashmir’s Awantipora, Dr Drabu asked to link physical heritage with culture to connect the public with the social milieu of the times when the monuments were constructed. “There should be an effort to develop a certain aura around the monument to tell what it was and what it has become.”
Drabu directed the department of libraries to have three provincial libraries in Srinagar, Jammu and Ladakh. He asked the officers to create and have one fully equipped library in each district and also create public libraries in collaboration with civil society and educational institutions.
Dr Drabu cautioned the officials not to procure any book till a full-fledged policy in place. “I want centralized book procurement policy in place and till then stop purchase of books. If I hear one book is purchased, you will face the consequences”
Directing the State Gazetteer department to immediately put in place an editorial board comprising eminent academicians, he asked the department to start working on preparing state gazetteers for five geographical contiguities of the state viz, Jhelum Valley, Chenab Valley, Indus Valley, Pir Panjal Region and tawi Basin. He also instructed to revive the rich tradition of recording oral histories.
Assuring full financial support, he said “I will give you Rs 2 Crore per gazetteer but the quality of the gazette shall have to be vastly improved. He told the group of officers to work on “what is where and then verify the authenticity. Let us know what we have.”
Snubbing the single minded focus on construction proposals, Dr Drabu said that he is out of the construction mode and shall not approve of any such proposal till tangible progress is made by the department in achieving its intended objectives.
The meeting was attended by secretary culture Dilshad Khan, secretary cultural academy Dr Aziz Hajni and officers from other allied departments.
No deadline for SPS Museum
Even as the restoration of SPS Museum was discussed in the meeting chaired by Hasseb Drabu, the official spokesman did not mention it in its handout. Sources said that inauguration of the new building of the SPS Museum at Lal Mandi is being delayed for undetermined reasons for several months. The Museum suffered extensive damage during 2014 floods but the officials claim that all the artifacts of the museum have been restored. The meeting did not specify any deadline for the inauguration of the Museum building, sources said.