One year on, Cultural Academy continues to be headless

Srinagar: A full-time Secretary has still not been appointed for the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL), even though a year has passed since the superannuation of the last secretary in March 2019.
According to official sources, cultural and literary activities organised by the government have come to a complete halt in Jammu and Kashmir in absence of a full-time Secretary at the Cultural Academy.
“Hundreds of files for funding and activities are pending at the academy for the past one year. Most of them are awaiting approval from the Secretary,” said a senior official in the academy.
“Many policy decisions with respect to cultural and literary festivals have been delayed,” the official added. “The employees also often do not get their salaries on time.”
Director Archives, Muneer-ul-Islam, is currently holding additional charge as Secretary JKAACL but things are running at a snail’s pace ever since the retirement of Dr Aziz Hajini as the Secretary in March 2019, the official said.
Another official told Kashmir Reader that negligible activities have taken place since March last year and no activity calendar has been drawn up.
He said the process to select the secretary had started but after a court stay on it, the culture department made no move to have the stay vacated.
The selection process was stayed by court over the absence of rules for the appointment. Nevertheless, some government officials are lobbying hard to secure the coveted post.
“The government must expedite the process of selection so that the artist community doesn’t suffer,” said an editor in the cultural academy.
According to him, hundreds of cultural NGOs and literary persons are entirely dependent on the academy for their livelihood and activities. He said that financial assistance and scholarships to them have been stopped.
“Things must be done properly so that affairs run as per the rules. Otherwise, artists and writers suffer due to the indifference of the government,” he said.
The previous governor’s administration had constituted a five-member committee to recommend three or more candidates for appointment to the position. Prof Rattan Lal Shant, noted Kashmiri writer, was the chairman of the committee, while its members were Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, vice–president of the academy, the administrative secretary of the general administration department, the administrative secretary of the department of culture, and Dr Jitendar Udhampuri, noted Dogri and Hindi writer.

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