US Foundation Urges Indian Honour for Rock Garden Creator

Chandigarh, Jan 15 (IANS) A US-based foundation has urged the Indian government to honour the creator of Chandigarh's famous Rock Garden with the country's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.

The Nek Chand Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, recently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek his personal intervention so that Rock Garden creator Nek Chand, 87, can be honoured for his contribution to art through recycled material.

"The Nek Chand Foundation supports the nomination of Mr Nek Chand Saini (born 1924) for the national Indian award of Padma Vibhushan," Tony Rajer, foundation trustee and American Coordinator for the Nek Chand Foundation, said in a communication to the prime minister.

"We are hopeful that you might take a personal interest in this matter and support his nomination, as his work, both in art and ecology has been a shining light to the world, all embodied in this humble man, the soul of Chandigarh."

The foundation has pointed out that Nek Chand is the most exhibited Indian artist ever, with his creations being part of leading cities like Paris, London, New York, Washington DC, and Berlin, and numerous books in different languages being written about him.

Nek Chand, who still lives in Chandigarh and has been offered the honorary citizenship in various countries, was a road inspector in a construction project in Chandigarh in the 1950s and 60s. He developed the art of creating figures from waste material discarded by people and secretly set up his laboratory in a forested area in north Chandigarh to help his creations get into shape.

Nek Chand was honoured by the government with the Padma Shri award in 1984 but the Nek Chand Foundation believes his contribution to Indian art deserves a much higher award.

All kinds of waste material like broken bangles, cutlery, chinaware, electrical fittings like switches, plugs and tube-lights, marbles, tiles, household junk, stones, building material waste and other things have found their way into art creations by Nek Chand.

"The Chandigarh Rock Garden is the single most important innovative contribution of Indian art to world culture of the 20th century. It is the eighth wonder of the world," Rajer said.

The Rock Garden, located in Chandigarh's Sector 1 on a sprawling 35-acre campus can be best described as a 'kingdom' created by Nek Chand which depicts the life and ecology of India, including rural settings and palaces. It also has waterfalls, an open air theatre, and pools.

Even today Nek Chand collects heaps of waste material from the city and adjoining states of Punjab and Haryana, from which he keeps creating more art forms.

"People from all around, even students, come and deposit their waste material here in my office compound. We are able to create new things out of these," Nek Chand told IANS.

Rahman wins Best Original Song Award in Los Angles 

Los Angles, Jan 15 (IANS) Music maestro A.R. Rahman won the Best Original Song award at the 16th Critics' Choice Movie awards Friday.

The 45-year-old music mogul won the award for the song "If I Rise" for Danny Boyle's film "127 Hours", a collaboration between Rahman and pop star Dido.

The Critics' Choice Movie Awards are bestowed annually by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) to honour the finest in cinematic achievement.

The star-studded ceremony was held at the Hollywood Palladium. "The Social Network" was named the year's Best Picture and David Fincher won the Best Director honours for the film.

Hollywood's Colin Firth won the Best Actor award for his role in "The King's Speech" and Natalie Portman was declared the Best Actress for her performance in "Black Swan".

This is Rahman's second collaboration with Boyle after Mumbai-based underdog drama "Slumdog Millionaire".



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