KATHMANDU: A proposal to set up a separate ministry for culture has been submitted to the National Planning Commission for consideration in the upcoming three-year plan, which begins mid-July.

A draft of the proposal was submitted to the NPC yesterday, said Jala Krishna Shrestha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture (MoFACAPAC). “A proposal has been submitted for a separate culture ministry to effectively manage the culture sector,” Shrestha told this daily.

The government has long neglected the cultural sector, bedrock of the country’s identity. Though the world recognises and fetes Nepal for its fascinating and intriguing social mores, the powers-that-be back home seem to have no time for such ‘trivial pursuits’, said Shrestha.

According to MoFACAPAC, the proposal contains long-term strategies in the preservation of culture and heritage and integration among various ethnic and indigenous communities as per the national needs.

It may be recalled that culture was incorporated in the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation in 2000. Earlier, it was a part of Ministry of Education as well as Social Welfare although the Culture Division was established in the country 50 years ago. The ministry got a new nomenclature — the Ministry of Culture and State Restructuring — on August 31, 2008.

When the UML-led government assumed office on May 23, several new ministries such as Federal, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs and Culture were all clubbed together. Consequently, culture took a backseat, lost in the maze of sundry unrelated ministries looking into novel areas of governance, said Rishi Kesh Niroula, under-secretary at the MoFACAPAC. “It is an irony that the ministry is almost defunct,” he added.

The nation is home to around 100 ethnic and indigenous groups with their unique culture. The constitution, however, recognises only 70 indigenous and ethnic communities. Besides, there are 10 World Heritage Sites, including seven in the Kathmandu Valley, as per the UNESCO list. Of these, eight are cultural sites and the rest showcase nature and wildlife.