Probe ordered in irregularities in Roerich trust

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SHIMLA - The Himachal Pradesh government has ordered a probe into allegations of financial irregularities and mismanagement in the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), which takes care of Russian painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich’s estate in Kullu district, officials said here Wednesday.

“Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Tuesday constituted a one-man committee to look into the affairs of the Roerich trust,” a government spokesperson told IANS.

He said Principal Secretary (Language, Art and Culture) Manisha Nanda would conduct the inquiry into the allegations of IRMT member Shakti Singh Chandel.

Chandel shot off a communication to Dhumal, who is the ex-officio president of the trust, Sep 28, 2010, raising serious issues ranging from financial irregularities to mismanagement in the trust that preserves Roerich’s art and knowledge.

In the complaint, Chandel pointed out that meetings of the board of trustees (BOT) and executive committee of the IRMT were not being convened regularly.

“No meeting of the BOT has taken place since 2006 and during this financial year (2010-11), only one meeting of the executive committee was called as against the mandatory four meetings,” he wrote.

“For the past 10 years, the trust has become an arena of squabbles. I have also tried to bring many issues to the notice of IRMT Vice President Alexander M. Kadakin (Russian ambassador to India), but unfortunately there has been no response,” he claimed.

Chandel told IANS that the trust is suffering from serious mismanagement and financial irregularities.

He said a thorough probe is required “as the IRMT is a symbol of the great traditional bond of friendship between Russia and India but if its affairs are not set right, it would hurt grievously the very spirit and purpose for which the trust was formed”.

The trust was founded by Roerich’s daughter-in-law, the late film actress Devika Rani, who married Svyatoslav Roerich, also a renowned painter like his father. It was registered April 1993 under the Indian Trusts Act of 1882.

Under some misconception, the trustees dissolved the trust and re-registered it in October 2005 under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.

Sources in the state government said even Kadakin, who has been closely associated with the Roerich family, has taken a serious view of the trust dissolution and recently wrote to Dhumal to get the trust restored to its original status.

The new trust has 19 members, including six Russians.

The Roerich estate is located in Naggar, 25 km from Kullu town.

Roerich came down to Naggar in 1927 from St. Petersburg and made the tiny village his home for more than 20 years.

His wife Helena, a famous writer, and sons Yuri, a prominent Oriental scholar, and Svyatoslav, a well-known painter, and his daughter-in-law Devika Rani all stayed with him in Naggar.

After settling down in the small village, he started a world movement to protect cultural monuments, later embodied in the International Roerich Pact signed in 1954 by more than 60 countries.

Roerich, who died in Naggar Dec 13, 1947, created more than 7,000 paintings in his lifetime.

His estate comprises the premises of the Indian-Russian Memorial Complex, the Gallery of N.K. Roerich, Helena Roerich Arts College and exhibition halls in the buildings of the Urusvati Himalayan Folk Art Museum.

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