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The Indian Ministry of Culture has collected data of over 5.5 million artists, as a part of the Cultural Mapping of India (Bharat ka sankrutik manachitran) project. The ministry will also seek help from respective state governments and other organisations to collect artist data for the project.

The government will design a web portal with the help of National Informatics Centre (NIC) to collect data from artists and serve as a repository, which will further help in providing grants and aid under various cultural schemes. It has also prepared a draft mission document and will consult NITI Aayog and other ministries once the document is finalised.

The project was initiated to survey India’s cultural topography and the artist data entry is being executed by the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) in New Delhi. The PIB release states that the ministry has conducted several expert meetings since May 2015 for this.

On CCRT’s website, users will find this form (also available as a pdf to print) to fill details pertaining to music, performing, literary, visual, dance, drama, theatre, puppetry, social practices and festivals and celebration arts. It will also let artistes classify their form as endangered, practising or surviving.

RSS in charge of survey?
According to an August 2015 report from the ET, the program was launched by the government at that time to identify and record details of artisans and artistes in the country, by employing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Vidya Bharati and Sanskar Bharati, the RSS’ education and culture arms.

Primarily, it will also collect Aadhaar card number, address and contact details. Apparently all of this is being gathered by soft and physical copies of forms which were being distributed to teachers and practitioners of art forms. The report also stated that the RSS employed over 20,000 volunteers to distribute the survey forms and had received around 500 verified registrations at that time.

Additionally, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH) website stresses the need for a complete mapping of all major and minor tribes and communities of India, including their traditional practices to understand their socio-cultural scenario and ensure their survival.

Medianama’s take: This initiative, depending on how it is executed, will prove to be of great importance for future generations, especially if it is accessible to the public at large (but where private data is not revealed). Cultural history of peoples encourages further understanding of not just the species but also of language and environments, possibly leading us to a less muddy future. It would be a tragedy if in the golden age of information, history-specific artefacts or documents got lost or never got a chance to be documented.

Further reading:

Documenting Our Past for the Future by François LeBlanc and Rand Eppich

– A paper on Design Intervention & Craft Revival (pdf)

– Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts hosts a giant paper (pdf) on ‘Cultural Mapping of India Under UNESCO’s Programme on Cultural Industries and Copyright Policies and Partnerships’

Our government coverage here.

Image Credit: LRBurdak under CC BY-SA 3.0 license