Several filmmakers, theatre artistes, film students and others have written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) expressing their skepticism and demanding transparency regarding the merger/closure of public funded film institutions.
The signatories include Naseeruddin Shah, Nandita Das, and Anand Patwardhan, Indie Journal reported.
The letter stated, "Since the MIB’s announcement of re-assessment of these units in January 2019, we have followed several notices issued by the government. We hoped that an exercise as important as this will involve detailed discussions with the stakeholders including members of the film fraternity and the employees of the above-mentioned institutions amongst others."
The letter added that the High Powered Committee under Bimal Julka submitted its report "without engaging with the primary stakeholders."
One of the demands of the signatories is that this report be made public noting that this hasn't been done despite an RTI application.
The letter also stated that the concerns of the employees who will be affected by the closures/merger should be addressed. The letter also questions whether this move is a step towards the privatisation of such institutions.
MIB Decides to Merge NFAI and Films Division with NFDC
Scroll.in had reported that the MIB decided to close down the branches of Films Division (FD), Children’s Films Society (CFSI) and the Films Archive of India (NFAI) before January end. The Ministry had also announced that these institutions will be merged with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
MIB said in a statement, “The merger of film media units under one corporation will lead to convergence of activities and resources and better coordination, thereby ensuring synergy and efficiency in achieving the mandate of each media unit.”
MP John Brittas Writes to Union Minister Anurag Thakur; Expresses Concerns About Merger
Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) John Brittas had also written to Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur expressing his concerns about the merger of FD, CFSI, and NFAI with NFDC.
Brittas wanted to draw Thakur’s “attention to the grievous allegations and reasonable apprehensions and suspicions being raised in the society regarding the proposed merger.” He also questioned how the NFDC would take up non-profit projects like the preservation of film archives since it is registered under the Companies Act.
According to Brittas, the closure/merger would be detrimental to the “the audio-visual record of this nation.” Brittas’ letter additionally stated that the stakeholders of the assets owned by these institutions “are alleging that the real intention of the merger/closure is to slowly privatise the NFDC, once the merger is over, or to liquidate the same after a couple of years so that these assets can be sold or leased out for throwaway prices.”