Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) John Brittas has written to Anurag Singh Thakur, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting & Youth Affairs and Sports, expressing concerns about merging Children's Films Society, India (CFSI), Films Division (FD), National Films Archive of India (NFAI) and Department of Film Festivals (DFF) with National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). According to Brittas this is a deviation from the recommendations of Bimal Julka Committee Report and that there are “grievous allegations and reasonable apprehensions and suspicions” being raised over the proposed merger. The Ministry has announced that the merger process will be accomplished over the next two years.
However, according to Brittas, how can NFDC, registered under the Companies Act, which has to generate profit for its operation and sustainability, undertake projects and works of a “non-profit nature like preservation of Archives of invaluable films, etc. and non-profit activities being performed by FD & DFF”? This he says has “cast a shadow on the whole process” adding that the “non-profit oriented activities are highly inevitable for the Country for the preservation of its rich heritage as well as for promoting qualitative ventures rather than mere focusing on commercial productions or profits. It cannot be measured in terms of money.”
Taking an example of the archives of Film Division, established in 1948 primarily to produce documentaries and news magazines for publicity of Government programmes and cinematic record of Indian History, he says they hold “more than 8,500 titles including priceless Indian News Review, documentaries, shorts and animations” adding that the DFF and NFAI also perform “several crucial and non-profit oriented activities for the preservation and betterment of Indian Films and industry."
He reiterated that Films Division and NFAI are “repositories of a huge national treasure in terms of recording the Audio Visual History of this Nation from pre- independent period till now” and any closure of these Government bodies or its activities is a “means to erase, in a slow manner, the audio-visual record of this Nation.”
Brittas has asked that aspects be “examined carefully by taking into confidence of the stakeholders including the employees before taking any further actions” and has pointed out that “there are widespread complaints that the Government is opaque about its actions in this regard as evident from the denial of providing copy of the Report of Bimal Julka Committee even under Right to Information Act to public including Films Division staff association.”
The MP stated that “aggrieved stakeholders are alleging that the real intention of the merger/closure is to slowly privatize 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.”
His full letter may be read here: