After hosting a renowned litterateur, the Rashtrapati Bhavan will now be a temporary home to an artist and a sculptor as part an in-residence programme launched by President Pranab Mukherjee in December 2013.
Painter Paresh Maity will be at the president’s estate in the national capital from September 21, and sculptor Subodh Gupta will check-in towards the end of the year, said Venu Rajamoni, press secretary to the President.
As part of the unique programme envisaged to encourage the creative potential of people, two schemes were launched by the President to welcome creative persons, including writers, artists and innovation scholars to stay in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Last month, Man Booker prize winner Amitav Ghosh was the President’s guest and spent five days at the world’s second-largest presidential estate after Turkey.
Maity and Gupta, both in their 50s, are residents of Delhi but enjoy a global fame in their respective fields.
“I have lived at a stone’s throw from this building for more than 40 years. Yet this place remained unfamiliar to me. I was always curious to know what is there inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. I also want others to know that,” President Mukherjee said at a private dinner for in-resident writer Ranjan Banerjee on Tuesday, regarding the idea behind the initiative.
The in-residence programme provides an opportunity not just for eminent writers or artists, but also budding scientists and students to enjoy state hospitality and soak in the estate’s grandeur to fuel their creativity.
“There is no hard and fast rule that the resident has to produce some work while staying here. It’s entirely up to the guest to decide how he or she wants to spend time,” said Rajamony.
The programme also gives the President the unique opportunity to have freewheeling interactions with eminent personalities, but it was a student that left an indelible impression on his mind.
“While staying here, she invented a clock that will say at specific hours, “take your medicine”. I asked the student what prompted her to make such a clock? She said her mother had entrusted her with the responsibility to give medicines to her grand-dad. And it was initially difficult to remember the timings. The watch would give signals for taking medicine,” said Mukherjee.