National Jury Chairman Buddhadeb Dasgupta announcing the film awardsThe State Government’s decisions to give Rs. 1 lakh to the Priyanandanan who directed the film Pulijanmam which won the National Award (2006) for the best feature film sets a bad precedent.

First, the decision is partial and arbitrary. It is a subjective decision of the Cabinet as no policy or criteria had been announced for deciding such financial rewards from the Government,

Similar cash ‘prizes’ have not been announced for other Malayalees who won national awards. So, it may be assumed that the selective grant to the director is on account of his missing the State Award. In that case, is it right for the Government to compensate an artist because the jury for the State Awards had a different view from that of the National Jury headed by Buddhadeb Dasgupta? Why was the producer left out when the prize money for State and National awards for the best feature film is shared by the two?

Cash for Priyanandanan is only part of a larger malady of the Government dispensing discretionary grants to people without clear and transparent criteria. Perhaps the CPI (M) began that with its assistance to the victims of agitations launched by it when in the Opposition in the past. Oommen Chandy as the Chief Minister of UDF Government turned it into a large scale exercise during his mass contact programmes in the 2005-06 period. The criteria often were whether a poor-looking person could reach out to the Chief Minister with an application.

Now, solatia are being announced for a wide variety of reasons. Political partiality is often evident in some such decisions. Sometimes, assistance is sanctioned to smother public ire against Government failures to prevent violence or calamities. Now, it is even being offered to set right a possible misjudgment or partiality by State Film Awards jury!? What will the Government do if a film that did not get a State Award went to win a prize, say, at Cannes?