Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at Banaras Hindu University last December, it seems that India's culture ministry has gone full throttle to adopt the PM's constituency as the culture centre for India. According to a report in The Indian Express, at least 32 schools and a few colleges have been adopted in Varanasi by the ministry's autonomous institutions this year in a bid "to propagate the city’s art and culture, achievements of its eminent personalities, spiritual education as well as tantric art."
“The PM said he wanted schools to be developed as resource centres, around a luminary or a theme related to the city. The Ministry of Culture took its cue from his speech,” according to Girish Joshi, director of the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), which is the nodal agency for implementing the culture ministry's many schemes.
Varanasi is the only such city to find a specific mention in detailed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between these institutions and the ministry. While CCRT itself has adopted nine schools, according to the report, other autonomous bodies that have done so include Sahitya Akademi (7), Sangeet Natak Akademi (5), Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (3), National School of Drama (2), the Varanasi zone of the ASI (2), and one each by Lalit Kala Akademi and Gandhi Smriti, and Darshan Samiti.
Though Joshi said that these bodies were "free to say no" to participating in this initiative, the report also quotes culture minister Mahesh Sharma saying, "It is our responsibility to implement schemes of the honourable Prime Minister."
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