New Delhi: The health ministry’s proposal for a Republic Day tableau on Ayushman Bharat Health And Wellness Centres (HWCs) has failed to pass muster with the expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Defence.
The committee, instead, has asked the ministry to come back instead with a proposal for a Covid-themed tableau. With just about six weeks to go for the 26 January parade on Rajpath, the ministry is yet to take a call on whether to start the project afresh.
This is the first time in at least seven years that the health ministry seems to have a shot at featuring in the parade. Proposals in the past years have been rejected at the selection stage. But with the Covid pandemic having been the theme of the year, a tableau on it could expect some concessions from the selection committee.
Health and wellness centres are the primary care arm of the NDA government’s flagship health programme Ayushman Bharat, of which the better known component is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana that offers a Rs 5 lakh family insurance cover. According to the plan, 1,53,000 HWCs are to be established by 2022.
No health ministry tableau in years
A senior official in the health ministry told ThePrint: “We had submitted a proposal for showcasing health and wellness centres in the tableau. But the expert committee told our officials that why not focus on the Covid response, especially since India has done such a good job.”
The official added: “We have to take a call on whether we want to plan afresh. One option we are looking at, which would ensure that our original plan does not go all waste, is to combine the two and do a tableau on the role of health and wellness centres in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Another official said, “We have not been a part of the parade for many years. If we happen to make it this year, it will be after a long gap.”
According to officials, the original plan was not appreciated because the expert committee felt that it is low on technological innovations. The visualisation that the health ministry presented was apparently not very impressive. The process of tableaux selection usually starts in June when an expert committee is formed by the Ministry of Defence, comprising distinguished persons from various fields, especially artists who can select the tableaux with the best aesthetics. This year, letters to the various ministries and states went out a little late, on 22 July, due to the pandemic.
Covid not among the suggested themes
In its letter to prospective participants this year, the defence ministry had listed some possible themes. These were any important episode from the history of the state/union territory concerned, festivals celebrated, cultural/architectural heritage, including any aspect of the life of the people, any important social and economic development scheme, project or achievement of outstanding nature which merits a display in the National Parade, environment, and vision for the future. States and ministries were required to confirm their willingness to participate in the selection process by 31 August.
The defence ministry’s communication read: “The tableaux proposals received from various organizations/agencies are evaluated in a series of meetings of the Expert Committee consisting of prominent persons in the field of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography, etc. In the first phase of selection, the sketch/design of the proposals are scrutinized and suggestions, if considered necessary, are given to carry out modifications in the sketch/design.”
It added: “Once the sketches/designs are approved by the Committee, the participants are asked to come up with three-dimensional models of their proposals. However, entering into the model stage itself does not mean selection. The models are thereafter examined by the Committee for final selection depending upon various considerations.”
The health ministry’s tableau is still in the preliminary stages of selection.