Tuesday, January 23, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Content, context and chaos

THE piece “Content, context and chaos” by Dr. B.N. Goswamy (Jan 17) on the subject is an eye opener. When I received a call from my friend artist whom I had avidly heard a few days ago in the college of art I went to the University Museum of Fine Arts with an expectation of experiencing a display and listening to edifying words.

That I found the experience rather disappointing can be taken as my own response. I had hoped that as I move from one gallery to another, I would experience a sequence of events which would result in an image of lasting value. That it did not happen, I took as my own lack of appreciation for the HIGH in ART. I have no quarrel with others singing praises for the display.

But when I returned to the premises to listen to all the artists in the auditorium of the Gandhi Bhawan I was thoroughly disappointed by the unprofessional manner in which the programme was organised.

1) Why install the microphones if they are not to be used?

2) If the artists are to speak from way back in the auditorium without the microphone in front of them, how is one expected to hear them?


But this bit I took or endured because I thought that perhaps audibility has reduced due to my age. Then started the video presentation. It was started and immediately stopped. Reason? Nothing could be seen because of too much glare. If the artists and curators of repute cannot judge what can be seen and heard inside a particular auditorium at a particular time, who can? For me that was the last straw, and I came out.

I wonder why the Chandigarh artists and curators could not sit together and work out something original for showing in the Fine Arts Museum on their own.

I entirely agree with Dr B.N. Goswamy regarding the observations he has made in his piece.


Art chaos: B.N. Goswamy was, as expected from a gentle person of his calibre, a very mild expression of his anguish that he must have experienced, like every other sensitive soul, after seeing the extremely muddled show of art de objects at the Panjab University’s Museum of Fine Arts.

I too was particularly pained to see the show and I wish the current custodian of the art works, which are housed in this museum and majority of which were painstakingly collected, over the years, by none other than Dr Goswamy himself, too could ‘see’ before lending the works to these vandals guised as artists!

Surely enough when one sells one’s work to a museum one never thinks, even in his wildest dreams, that his work, one day, would be displayed in an offensive manner. I remember how perturbed I was when I saw one of my paintings, which I had gifted to one of my acquaintances a few years ago, being hung at the roof level of his drawing room. On enquiring he sheepishly told me that he in fact had put it there to cover a broken ventilator from where rainwater often seeps in! Needless to say that I immediately got the painting back from him.

If one is unable to appreciate art and respect artists it, being out of ignorance, is digestible. But an outright and intentional insult for them, that too by an art museum that collects art works for posterity, is decidedly reprehensible.


Li Peng’s visit

The visit of Li Peng, China’s number two man, to India is timely and will certainly help improve the roller-coaster type of relationship we have had with our bigger neighbour since the time of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

As you have rightly suggested in your editorial, "China's renewed interest in India" (January 15) let the two countries meet on common ground instead of continuing to lick the wounds of the past. Tackling international terrorism, and the problems faced by developing countries due to some of the restrictive clauses imposed by WTO in international trade are indeed matters of common and immediate concern. It is hoped that drug trafficking which goes hand-in-hand with terrorism will also be tackled by the synergistic joint efforts. Given mutual trust and goodwill the lingering border disputes could also be settled amicably.

“Dumping of cheap Chinese goods” is raising the hackles of Indian industry. It is hoped that once China actually enters the WTO this problem will get minimised if not fully resolved. Herein lies a conundrum. Dumping implies selling below costs. Communist China never had a sophisticated cost accounting system, like the one we are having in India, which tells them what the actual costs are — including reasonable overheads in production, quality assurance, marketing, administration etc. All that may change soon as China is now a global player.

Kangayam R. Rangaswamy
Durham, USATop


The passport tangle

This has reference to your editorial “The passport tangle” (Jan 13), wherein you have rightly stated that the hardliner conglomerate called the Hurriyat stands for Kashmir’s accession to or merger with Pakistan, and that it “treats the ongoing violence in the State as a religious one”, as well as “the unfinished part of the two-nation theory”.

India’s firm and steadfast commitment to peace in the course of the long and grinding Kashmir problem has not deterred her even in the face of continued violence and cross-border terrorism. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister both have made it abundantly and repeatedly clear that there is no question of India agreeing to negotiations with Pakistan, so long as conducive atmosphere is not created by it by way of stoppage of cross-border violence.

Indeed, if ever there was a time in the history of our country to stand firm as a rock, it is here and now. There is no logic in the Hurriyat’s stand that passports be issued to all the five members selected by it. The Hurriyat Conference is not a representative body, and ipso facto, it cannot dictate terms to the Government of India. In fact, there is no point in allowing the Hurriyat hawks to visit Pakistan for talks with the perpetrators of violence.

Pakistan must be made to understand that if it wants to return to the society of civilised nations, it must abide by the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, and abjure all cross-border terrorism and intransigence. It must stop all interference in India’s internal affairs, including Kashmir. It must understand that Indo-Pak friendship is in its own interest.

Deepak Tandon

Malwa enclave

The Municipal Corporation, Patiala took development charges from the residents of Malwa Enclave, but is refusing civic amenities to them on the plea of shortage of funds. If it is really so and the authorities are sincere in the welfare of the people they can get the encroached public property vacated from the unauthorised encroachers and put the same to auction which will serve the twin purpose of the welfare of the masses as well as the financial upliftment of the corporation.

Janak Raj Jain


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