This was the third consecutive time since the state’s formation that the tableau was rejected by the ceremonial committee.

Delhi politics at work says Telangana artist on states absence from R-Day parade File photo/ PTI
news Republic Day Friday, January 26, 2018 - 18:21

Even as the entire country was celebrating the 69th Republic Day with much fervour, Telangana was left fuming over two major setbacks—the rejection of the state tableau in the Republic Day parade and nobody from the state qualifying for the prestigious Padma awards.

This was the third time since the formation of the state that the tableau was rejected by the ceremonial committee. This time, the state had proposed ‘Medaram Jatara’ also popularly known as ‘Sammakka Sarakka Jatara’ as its theme along with Mission Bhagiratha- the government’s flagship drinking water project and the Kakatiya Dynasty. However, none of them made it to the final cut.

The only time the state got the chance to display its rich tradition nationally was in 2015, when it displayed ‘Bonalu’, the state’s festival along with Potharaju and Golconda in the background.

Even then, it was no easy feat since the committee had rejected the proposal. But a determined artist, Ramana Reddy, who designed the tableau, approached the Hyderabad High Court seeking to know from the committee on what basis they had rejected his designs. Subsequently, 15 days before the Republic Day, the committee gave a nod for the tableau to be displayed in the parade in New Delhi, shares Ramana Reddy.   

Is there a bias towards the South?

Yes, there is definitely a bias says Reddy. “For getting a tableau, there are several hassles. Apart from heavy lobbying, there is also Delhi politics. Do you think that all the tableaus displayed today were extraordinary? None can deny that there is heavy lobbying.”

The united Andhra Pradesh state consecutively failed four times to qualify for displaying the tableaus.

Reddy recalls his visit to Delhi in 2014 when he presented the 3D design before the committee. “There is Delhi politics. A single contractor does fabrication works for at least 6-7 tableaus from different states. There is some understanding between the committee members and these contractors,” he suspects.

However, the lobbying and internal politics is not the sole reason for the failure in tableaus getting rejected, he observes.

“The proposed designs should be able to show the state’s cultural heritage. The designs should prove that there’s possibility of giving more colour and make it more visually appealing. The designers should be able to impress the committee members with their communication, detailing how best the project can shape up and what the tableau signifies.”

No Arts department in the government 

Reddy expresses displeasure over the government not taking keen interest in being able to mount pressure on the central government. “We don’t even have an Arts department. We should constitute a department dedicated to arts.”

The government hires artists for the purpose of designing tableaus. “If the government can create an Arts department and recruit competitive artists who can communicate well, there’s a possibility of having a shot at the Republic Day parade.”

How does the screening process happen?

The proposals for the designs should be sent in September, to the ceremonial committee which comprises several retired army personnel and other officers. Three designs should be presented before the committee, of which one might be approved or all three might get rejected. The selection involves seven rounds. The final round would be held in December. “Of the three designs, the committee might select one and ask for a revision in the design. After several revisions in the following six rounds, the result is announced in December,” explains P Bhaskar, Assistant Director, Information and Public Relations department.  

Does the process lack transparency?

In 2015, Ramana Reddy had approached the High Court as his tableau was rejected. He sought answers from the committee, as to why they rejected his design.

A senior official from I&PR department requesting anonymity said that nobody knows the criteria for the design being approved. “We don’t know on what basis they decide if a certain design is worth displaying. They don’t give us any answers for the rejection. We can be certain about the tableau’s approval only when we receive a letter stating the same in December. Otherwise, it is understood that the design has been rejected.”