WHY AN NCF?
The heritage of a community is essentially its resource for growth - a threshold for a forward movement even if that is rather evolutionary in character. It not only constitutes the spiritual resource of the community as also of individuals it is an essential source of an identity deeply rooted in the past.
India has witnessed, in the millennia that are past, coming together of peoples from various places, of distinct racial stocks, of different religions, of diverse cultures and ideas, and this interactive togetherness has created a unique plurality -
plurality of religions, of languages, of dress, of architecture - that yet draws upon and strengthens the same resource that has acquired eternality namely the `Indianness', quintessentially. For the achievement of this Indianness in the fullest, the unique Indian plurality must continue to blossom unfettered and unhindered. And that will be possible only if these diversities the
totality of which constitutes the Indian existence - the very many `heritages' of India - must have for them legitimate space and freedom not only to survive but also to grow and evolve as living cultures. That is why the Constitution of India guarantees cultural rights of the citizens in the following terms: "Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same". The Constitution further provides that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
But in India today, as indeed throughout the world, the pace of change poses unprecedented threats to the continuity of that cultural heritage. Aware of these threats, societies everywhere are expressing a growing demand for cultural preservation and renewal.
In so doing they recognise the need to reinvigorate their own cultural identity and creativity. They recognize also that
expenditures on culture are not a drain on the economy but a contribution to human and social development.
Yet this social demand for culture greatly outstrips the resources available to government alone. In many countries, industrialised and developing alike, new funding mechanisms are being devised, based on the dual recognition that cultural activities can and should be as rationally managed and administered as other development programmes and that new alliances must be forged between the public and private sector, between the state and civil society. Also, at a time when the marketplace reigns supreme, it is apparent that market process often fails to deliver a socially optimal level of goods and services in the culture sector and that cultural support delivered imaginatively in a market system is entirely consistent with pursuit of economic efficiency.
The time has come, therefore, to make appropriate adjustments and innovations in the patterns of cultural funding in India. Since independence, many efforts have been made both at the governmental and non-governmental levels, to foster contemporary cultural
life, as well as to preserve the rich legacy handed down from our past. But these efforts have been dispersed, often piecemeal. A number of governmental initiatives
have been marred by administrative rigidity and a top-down approach that has done little to promote cultural freedom. Above all, the potential of many groups and communities particularly at the grassroots level, has not been realised for lack of seed funding to catalyse the ingenuity and creative energy of our people.
The NCF as constituted is expected to remedy this situation and to innovate effectively on the Indian culture scene. The
importance of this effort is not only in what it brings in materially but in the vision, that it carries, that it will be the society that will, to a large extent, provide for, financially, for its cultural aspirations.