Thursday, November 6, 2014

Railway Minister Launches a Book “Art & Railways – A Bangalore Saga” Written by Railway Officers

This is the First Book Published by National Rail Museum


 

 

The Minister of Railways, Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda launched a Book titled –“Art & Railways – A Bangalore Saga” written by Railway officers, Mr. S.  Mani & Ms. Lily Pandeya, at a function here last evening. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha was present as Guest of Honour on the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Arunendra Kumar, other Board Members and authors of the Book were also present among others on the occasion. The book has been published by National Rail Museum of Ministry of Railways.


Speaking on the occasion, Railway Minister Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda said that Indian Railways is mostly viewed as a vital service provider and key driver of Indian economy. So to highlight and focus on the artistic and cultural dimension of this great organization is a unique and a praiseworthy effort. He congratulated the National Rail Museum for this remarkable publication and the authors S. Mani & Lily Pandeya for writing it.

Shri Gowda said that Railways everywhere have been rightly credited as being the harbinger of industrial progress and politico economic unification of a nation. When the Government thinks of development in any sector, Indian Railway invariably think of its  role  in it. However, not many have given the Railways its due for the role that it plays in the everyday life of people – in their work & vacations, festivals & celebrations, joys and sorrows, journeys and destinations.

Shri Gowda said that it is heartening to learn that such a large number of artists came forward for this ingenious experiment, appropriately titled SAFAR – the Journey. The Art project undertaken by Bangalore Division in 2011 – 12 serves as a prime example of civic engagement as the community of artists found their muse and expression at the Railway platform. Through their art works, they have not only infused a new life but also reinvented the cultural tradition of Railways. This may inspire other stakeholders like journalists, students, theatre artists to come forward for similar ventures.

Shri Gowda said that he always commended the good job done by the various Zones and Divisions of the Railways and especially by the National Rail Museum in preserving the locomotives, carriage and wagons and other artefacts. He said that several photo exhibitions of bygone era of Railways have been held successfully at various places. He congratulated Bangalore Division for not only organizing the art camps but also creating an art gallery and a cartoon gallery to preserve the precious art works. It is a matter of pride that Bangalore City Railway station may very well be the first to have such galleries on the platform. These need to be preserved and protected as valuable property of the Railways.

Shri Sadananda Gowda further said that in recent times, the Hon’ble PM has laid a special emphasis on Swachh Bharat campaign. Indian Railways have been at the fore front of this campaign. Clean India is beautiful India. Mural Art has found a unique and prolific treatment in the streets and the public spaces of Bangalore City. He appreciated the murals at the Railway stations. Shri Gowda pointed out that it is a wonderful idea as the spaces that bring beauty & joy are not defaced or destroyed. Art projects such as SAFAR can go a long way in realizing this dream of ours. Such innovative schemes and ideas should be undertaken and encouraged everywhere, he added, Romance of Railways have moved all from the days of the whistling steam loco and toy trains to today. The Railway Minister congratulated the National Rail Museum for their vision in choosing this coffee table book which beautifully showcases the beauty of the world of Indian Railways, to be their maiden publication on the 160th year of Indian Railways. He commended the authors, S. Mani & Lily Pandeya for their efforts and he hoped to see more of such initiatives in future.

In his speech, the Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha said that Indian Railways is not merely a service department but it represents India’s life style and culture. The Indian artform originates from the culture. Shri Sinha said that Indian Railways has made substantial contribution in promoting India’s art and cultural heritage. He said that the book has very effectively compiled paintings, art corks, murals etc. on Railway themes created by various artists.

In his address, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Arunendra Kumar said that Indian Railways apart from being a vital service provider and a key driver of country’s economy is also a well spring of art and culture. He said that Railway officers Shri S. Mani who was then Divisional Railway Manager in Bangalore Division and senior DPO, Ms. Lily Pandeya of the same Division during the period 2001-12 took a very novel initiative which resulted in the publication of this coffee table book. We need more such initiatives to promote our art and culture, Shri Kumar said.

National Rail Museum was not only the venue for the launch of this book but also the publisher of this work. This work is of special interest to Indian Railways. There is a special connect to the ‘common man’ with art in Indian Railways. A railway station is considered to be an ideal setting for this kind of an endeavour as a mini India comes alive at a railway station. Indian Railways has always attempted to benefit the common man through its various schemes, projects and concessions.

Indian Railways has always been an unintended fountainhead of art and culture, reflecting the unique heritage and multicultural ethos of the country. Besides being a vital service provider and a key driver of the Indian economy, as an organization, it also serves as a veritable cultural and community hub. Since its inception in the 1850s, it has inspired versatile portrayals of its distinct character and identity by artists of all genres. This wealth of artwork recalls, affirms and advances the valuable cultural legacy of the Railways and never fails to resonate with the populace at large. Initiatives like Rail art projects facilitate the process of creation of vibrant public spaces through civic engagement and form the basis for simultaneously preserving and reinventing history and heritage. South Western Railway’s Bangalore Division  made an attempt to recognize this tradition and tried to rejuvenate it in the midst of the trite of trains and stations.

SAFAR Support and Appreciation for Art and Railways – was a movement launched by Bangalore Division. as a part of its effort to promote art and bring it closer to the people. Set against the sights, sounds, colours and flavours of a Railway station, quintessentially the microcosm of India, four Art Camps, including a Rail Cartoon camp, were held at the Bangalore City Railway station in 2011 – 2012. Several Karnataka based nationally and internationally acclaimed artists participated in these camps producing precious Railway themed artworks and cartoons. These artworks were subsequently displayed in the specially created Rail Art and Rail Cartoon galleries open for public viewing on Platform 5 of the Bangalore City Railway station.  At the same time, a Rail Heritage gallery was also added to Platform 1 of the station, where many old Rail artefacts and rare photographs of yore were exhibited. Many of the artworks were reprinted and displayed to enliven spaces in the trains, Railway stations, Railway offices and other work areas to create aesthetic ambiance and enhance travel experience of the passengers. Bangalore Division also commissioned murals by local artists practicing folk styles such as Warli and Chittara as well as by the students of Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath at the various Railway stations in Bangalore area. The Art Camps, Galleries and the Murals are first-of- its-kind attempts in the Railways in terms of concept, scale and execution. Bangalore City Railway station may have the distinction of perhaps being the only station to have Rail Art and Rail Cartoon galleries within its precincts. 

“Although based in Bangalore, the concept of SAFAR easily has a universal pan-Indian appeal, making a significant contribution to the artistic expression and cultural heritage of the Indian Railways. SAFAR blends the artist’s journey through varied life experiences with the infinite journeys that Railways affords in both real and metaphorical senses across the nation’s prismatic landscapes and cultural mores. It was therefore deemed befitting by the National Rail Museum to publish this Coffee Table book on the 160th anniversary of the Indian Railways.

This coffee table book chronicles the origin of the idea and its evolution over a period of one and a half years” adds Sh. Uday Singh Mina, Director, National Rail Museum.

(Kindly note:- Photographs are available on pib.nic.in)

AKS/HK/KD/RV

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