cultural traditions

What is the Ministry of Culture doing?: Former Kalakshetra director Leela Samson slams campus misuse

The management and senior staff are turning a blind eye to commercial activities on the Chennai-based arts and cultural academy.

In a public Facebook post on Thursday, Leela Samson, former director of reputed Chennai-based arts and culture academy Kalakshetra, slammed the institution’s management for the ‘blatant misuse’ of campus property.

Samson said that classrooms and tuition area were being used for “sales of vegetables, clothes, food –including non-veg food items being sold under the sacred banyan tree, the very heart of the institute.” The setting up of commercial food stalls went against the founder’s ideal of creating an environment conducive to the learning of art. “If you want to start a cafeteria on campus, do that,” she told “But why under the banyan tree? This is where we do our prayers in the morning.”

Her post included photographs of food and clothes stalls set up around the classrooms. She said that such commercial activities had been taking place on the campus for the past two years, with the knowledge of the acting director and the principal.

The wooden flooring for dance classes were being ruined because of the commercial structures built up within the classroom, wrote Samson.

Even the annual craft exhibition was losing its former elegance with the sale of pickles, cutlery and furniture. “What is the difference between Kalakshetra and any other organisation?” she said. “You should be accessing the best of India’s craft and letting the people of Chennai enjoy that.”

Samson said that it was the lack of management at the institute that had led to the commercialisation of the campus. “Once it is rented out, neither the party that has rented nor anyone from our side is there to watch it except servants,” she said. “Somebody has to take responsibility for what has happened.”

The Kalakshetra foundation was set up by renowned Bharatnatyam dancer and choreographer Rukmini Devi Arundale in 1936. The institute is spread over a sprawling 99-acre campus by the seashore in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai. According to the institute’s website, Rukmini Devi Arundale had the vision “of imparting to the young the true spirit of Art, devoid of vulgarity and commercialism.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.