Bureacrats, top literati in race for cultural academy top post

Bureacrats, top literati in race for cultural academy top post

Srinagar: Director Information, Gulzar Ahmad Dar, well-known actor Ayash Arif, theatre artist Balwant Thakur, and broadcaster Satish Vimal are among 36 contenders for the post of Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.
Others in the fray include writer and politician Darakhshan Andrabi, television artist Mushtaque Ali Ahmad Khan, Arvinder Singh Aman (Additional Secretary of the Cultural Academy), painter Veer Munshi, writer and academician Kavita Suri, cultural academy’s Chief Editor Urdu, M Ashraf Tak, academy’s Chief Editor Gojri, Javaid Rahi, writer and former Medical Superintendent SKIMS Soura, Amin Tabish, Director Floriculture, Abdul Hafiz Shah, bureaucrat Aseer Kishtawari, academician Shuhab Inayat Malik, and bureaucrats Farooq Bukhari, OP Sharma, and Ravider Koul.
The race to the secretary post began in January this year after the governor’s administration constituted a committee for the appointment of the top official. The post has been vacant since March 31 last year, when Prof Aziz Hajni superannuated from government service at the post.
The governor’s administration constituted a five-member committee to recommend three or more finalists for appointment to the position.
Prof Rattan Lal Shant, noted Kashmiri writer, is the chairman of the committee, while its members are Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, vice–president of the academy; the administrative secretary of general administration department; the administrative secretary of department of culture; and Dr Jitendar Udhampuri, Dogri and Hindi writer.
Earlier, Prof Shafi Shouq withdrew from the committee as chairman due to personal reasons.
The committee had been asked by the department of culture to submit its recommendations to the president of the academy within a period of one month. However, the process got delayed due to the Modal Code of Conduct during elections and because of a petition filed by one of the candidates in J&K High Court challenging the process.
Although the final decision would be taken by Governor Satya Pal Malik, the search committee will be the one to recommend the eligible person.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that many candidates have been “desperately representing” their eligibility and ability to impress the committee chairman and the committee members. Speculations are also rife that a Jammu-based candidate would be chosen for the post.
While the selection process is already facing a court case over absence of rules for the appointment, some government officials are lobbying hard to get the coveted post.
Chairman of the committee, Ratan Lal Shant, told Kashmir Reader that the secretary would be appointed for a five-year term. The person would be selected on the basis of his or her contribution in the field of art, culture and literature, he said.
“We won’t consider those who are not from the art, culture and literature background. The secretary is not just an administrator but a responsible person who must be sensitive about the institution and people associated with it. So, we will clearly consider such things before finalising the panel,” he said.
Prof Shant said that the committee has already informed the High Court about the process and criteria laid to appoint the secretary.
“We have kept the process transparent and open, unlike other search committees formed in the past. We won’t recommend the wrong person for the post,” he said.