The Union ministry of culture is rating writers and artistes around India in grades that will decide who will be sent to cultural events abroad.
Already, 185 artistes have been graded into three categories: O (outstanding), P (promising) and W (waiting) by a committee composed of ministry officials and certain artistes. Only artistes graded into the O and P categories will be sent to cultural festivals abroad. Once sent abroad, the artiste will have to wait for two years before getting another official invitation to take part in a foreign festival, according to The Indian Express.
Of the 185 graded artistes, Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan is an O, Padma Bhushan awardee and Carnatic musician TV Gopalakrishnan is an O, Akshara Theatre group is an O, and Kuchipudi dancer Shallu Jindal, wife of Congress leader Naveen Jindal, is a P.
All the graded artistes were selected from applicants who responded to an advertisement placed by the ministry of culture last November and December.
The ministry graded 46 of the 185 as O, 112 as P, and 27 as W, said an official.
This was the pilot project in the plan, said the ministry official, adding that the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), the nodal agency for the project, has already profiled about 70 lakh writers and artistes.
The idea, say culture ministry officials, is to ensure "fairness in participation of artistes at various events" and help "fix their honorarium".
According to Mahesh Sharma, minister of state for culture, with this exercise, the ministry will create a directory of culture ranked according to "popularity, age and experience".
Sharma said: "There are practitioners of various arts in each and every corner of the country. Many among them are yet to reach us. It will help us know about those artistes. Second, we would be able to utilise those artistes. The country has around six lakh villages. We are yet to reach many of them. We want to reach them."
Ministry officials expect about one crore applications, though they acknowledge that rating one crore artistes might be difficult. One way, perhaps, is competitions among applicants from village to state level, with prizes from the ministry for those who get the highest grade. Those who believe they have been wrongly graded can appeal for a re-evaluation.