As the President Ram Nath Kovind, will only be presenting 11 awards at the National Awards 2018, the many talented artists of the country are planning to leave the event unattended. The development was deemed a great insult to their work.
A near revolt took place during the rehearsals at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, on Wednesday when the artist were faced with the rude shock.
"...at the end of the day we feel dejected rather than honoured for our work," the artistes say in an impassioned letter addressed to the President and the government.
It was informed to the artist by a docket assigned to them that Smriti Irani, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister of State, Information & Broadcasting, and Narendra Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Information & Broadcasting will be presenting the remaining awards, whilst the President will only be presenting 11 awards. Following the award ceremony the winners will get a customary photo of with the president in groups of 45.
Parting from the 64 year tradition, many of the winners are saddened on hearing this development and stated that this last minute change is an insult to their work.
The I&B minister Smriti Irani attempted to console the achievers by stating that the President had allotted only an hour for the ceremony and the event organisers had to phone in ministers to hand over the rest of the awards.
On learning the disappointment of the various winners, the President’s office expressed surprise at the incident, by stating it was a known fact that the president only attended award ceremonies for an hour.
"This has been the protocol since he took office. It was conveyed to Information and Broadcasting Ministry several weeks ago and the ministry knew this all along," said Ashok Malik, press secretary to the president.
The artists feel that it is almost discriminating, that only a selected handful is to be honoured by the President. The 11 chose for the president’s segment include Vinod Khanna and Sridevi who are being honoured posthumously.
"... we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent and are awaiting a more just solution," says the letter signed by noted singer KJ Yesudas, Bengali filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly and actor Fahadh Faasil.
"We as filmmakers and artists put in all that we have and tenaciously stick to our dreams in a field of work where appreciation does not come easily. We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once in a lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us," they award winners wrote in their note to the President’s Office.