Sunday, 30 January 2011

India is Fast becoming Asia's Art & Literary Hub by Abhay K

India is fast becoming Asia's art and literary hub. India Art Summit and Jaipur Literary Festival are two significant art and literary events that took place back to back this January in India's capital Delhi and Jaipur respectively. Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is located 281 kilometers from the national capital Delhi in the Western India state of Rajasthan. Delhi and Jaipur along with Agra, where the famous Taj Mahal is located, form the Golden Triangle of India's tourist hotspots.

India Art Summit started in 2009 while Jaipur Literary Festival started in 2006. Since then both the events have been gaining wide popularity in India and abroad. These are two pan-Indian events that bring together art collectors, artists, curators, art-critics, publishers, writers, poets, book-lovers from all over India with many foreign visitors.

This year India Art Summit showcased works of 84 galleries from India and abroad (from 20 countries) under 8,500 square feet of space at New Delhi's premier exhibition space Pragati Maidan from January 21-23. The event had additional attractions such as Sculpture's Park and special Video Lounge besides the exhibition space.

The first India Art Summit attracted 10,000 visitors and this time the event witnessed a much higher turnout.

Jaipur Literary Festival, proclaimed to be Asia-Pacific's largest literary event, ran for five days long at the 19th century mansion Diggi Palace, beginning January 21st. Many luminaries of the literary world were present at the event. Nobel Laureates in Literature Orhan Pamuk & J.M. Coetzee were a great attraction, as were the icons of the Indian film industry Gulzar & Javed Akhtar, Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai, and great literary figures such as Vikram Seth, Ian McEwan among others. The event drew a large crowd of literature lovers.

India is fast becoming the publishing hub of the world with many large publishing houses such as Cambridge University Press, Random House and others setting up their offices in India.

India's burgeoning art market has led to the foundation of an Indian online auction house Saffronart in 2000 on the lines of Sotheby and Christie.

India's art and literary scene looks vibrant and growing at unprecedented pace. This certainly adds to India's traditional soft power that comes from its ancient civilization, dynamic democracy, its amazing geographical and cultural diversity, unparalleled Bollywood and re-energized world of Yoga & Ayurveda.

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What makes the 21st century different from the 20th century?

What makes the 21st century different from the 20th century?

By Abhay K.

What makes the 21st century different from the 20th century? One word answer to this question is most likely to be Internet. Perhaps this is true to a great extent. From Google to WikiLeaks, Internet has made the difference in our everyday lives. But who are the people behind these novel and revolutionary websites which have come to define Internet itself? What's their background and inspiration? Let's look back at the movers and shakers of the 21st century as Wikipedia- World's free encyclopedia celebrated its 10th Birthday on 15th January this year.

Google began as a research project by Larry page & Sergey Brin in January 1996. Both aged 37 now, were just 23 when they started Google. The domain name 'Google' which was actually a misspelling of word 'Googol' -meaning a hundred zeros after one, was registered in September 1997. Its first server was located in a garage in California and it originally ran as a sub domain of Stanford University website. Since then Google has found a special niche is our lives living up to its motto of making the world's information universally accessible and useful.
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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Inspiring Obamas

The visit of Barack and Michelle Obama has left India mesmerized, especially the young India. President and the first lady share a great chemistry, mutual admiration and warmth that is rare these days among the world’s top political leaders which could be an example for many here in India and across the world. Michelle did not only made inspiring speeches in Mumbai but also danced into the hearts and minds of million of young Indians bringing them closer to the United States of America.

Michelle Obama during her speeches emphasized on her modest background but strong values, the importance of education and the audacity to dream big in life. She did not only introduce President Obama to the students of St. Xavier College but also exhorted them to ask the President tough questions and keep him on his toes. President Obama admitted that he did not like to speak after charismatic Michelle whom he considered a better speaker than himself.

President Obama began his pilgrimage with these words in the visitor book at the Mani Bhawan where Mahatma Gandhi spent 17 years of his life- ‘Mahatma Gandhi is a hero not just to India but to the world’; while the First Lady wrote- ‘This visit will be one that I will always treasure.

The life and teachings of Gandhi must be shared with our children around the world.’ Later when they visited the Rajghat to pay tribute to the Mahatma President Obama again wrote- ‘We will always remember the great soul who changed the world with his message of peace, tolerance, of love. More than 60 years of his passing (away), his light continues to inspire the world.’ The climax of his great tribute to Gandhi came during his address to the joint session of the Indian parliament when he said– ‘And I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as President of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared with America and the world.’

The Obamas thus rekindled the spirit of Gandhi, his message of peace, tolerance and love at a time in history when the world is gripped by waves of terrorism, extremism, fundamentalism and ‘Clash of Civilizations’ looks real; when our generation has started forgetting the ideals, methods and talisman of Mahatma Gandhi.

President Obama began his historic speech at the joint session of the Parliament with these words ‘I bring the greetings and friendship of the world’s oldest democracy - the United States of America, including nearly three million proud and patriotic Indian-Americans’, ‘Bahoot Dhanyavad’ and ended with ‘Jai Hind’.

These words reflect his great sensitivity to India’s language, culture and traditions. The speech was unique and historic in making liberal references of the great sons of India- Swami Vivekanand, Mahatma Gandhi Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore & Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. Some of the oft-quoted lines included 'Where the mind is without fear...from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, ‘Ayam nijah paro veti, gananaa laghu- chetsaam, udaara- charitaanam to vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ from Panchatantra etched on the entrance of the Central Hall of the Parliament, ‘To be the change we seek in the world’ of Mahatma Gandhi & ‘Holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character’ of Swami Vivekanand.

His reference to the invention of zero by the Indians deeply touched the heart of entire country–‘It’s no exaggeration to say that our Information Age is rooted in Indian innovations -including the number zero.’ His praise for India’s recent achievements in S&T he said–‘from the supercomputers you build to the Indian flag that you put on the moon’ received thunderous appaluase from the Parliament.

When we have doubts sometimes regarding the efficacy of decision-making of our democratic system, President Obama expressed undiminishing faith in our democratic system to deliver saying -‘India has succeeded, not in spite of democracy; India has succeeded because of democracy.’ He termed our democratic excersize to elect new government something extraordinary on the planet- ‘When Indians vote, the whole world watches. Thousands of political parties; hundreds of thousands of polling centers; millions of candidates and poll workers -- and 700 million voters.

There’s nothing like it on the planet’ and expressed solidarity with us in the new century -‘As you carry on with the hard work ahead, I want every Indian citizen to know: The United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines. We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder. Because we believe in the promise of India. We believe that the future is what we make it.’

President Obama came across as a true global leader, not only with great oratory skills but one who promises ‘a global partnership to meet global challenges’ between our two countries.

Obamas’ greatest Diwali present to the young India was inspiration & motivation to believe in the promise of India, the promise of standing right there with us ‘shoulder to shoulder’ and bringing the message of Mahatma Gandhi closer to our hearts by exhorting more young Indians to join the public service.
Obamas stayed with us only for three days but have left us with three questions to ponder over–

What do you want India to look like in 20 years?
What kind of partnership do you want in 20 years from now?
How do you want to make the world a better place?

Let’s find our own answers and these will shape the 21st century.

Views expressed are author’s own.

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Friday, 12 November 2010

Art exhibition for beginners and what to appreciate

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Opening of my art exhibition at Adzak Museum, Paris

Saturday, 30 October 2010

eGov 2.0 Award 2010 for best use of Social Media tools

 Abhay K. along with Navdeep Suri receiving eGov 2.0 2010 Award at the Claridges in New Delhi
Abhay K. along with the momento of eGov 2.0 award 2010

The story began on Thursday 8th July 2010 when I opened a Twitter account of IndianDiplomacy and put the first official tweet  of the Public Diplomacy Division -'Special Issue of India Pespectives on Tagore at ' before leaving for his village in Nalanda. The rest is history. Facebook, Youtube, Blogspot & Issuu followed and caught the imagination of the mainstream media.About 16 stories appeared in HT, ToI, Mail Today, Tehelka etc. on the social media initiatives of the Public Diplomacy Division. And then the award came on Thursday 28th October 2010. It was a victory of team work, able leadership of Navdeep Suri who fought many battles to let me continue implementing my vision.

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Monday, 4 October 2010

E-Release of 10 Questions of the Soul

I think that these questions are based on ancient Indian philosophy. For me, they are a very interesting mixture of Plato, Voltaire, Vernadsky etc.

As a careful reader, I would like to make some comments on author's philosophical system. I am not quite sure that everybody craves for physical immortality. To my mind, people are simply afraid of death and the suffering connected with the process. If it were in some other way, there would be no Epicurean philosophy of death, but only Stoic.

From what I have read, SQ is an inborn stable quality of a person. I think that everybody can develop spiritually, so SQ can be flexible (improving). This would give a perspective to any person.

I also believe that a person is a combination of spiritual and material. When material dies, spiritual is liberated and goes on living. I do not see this as immortality, to my mind, our spiritual part is only lent for the period of our physical existence. It is just eternal, without the beginning or the end.

It was very interesting to read 10 questions after reading author's poems, because now I know that I have got the correct understanding of the philosophical foundation of author's poetry.

Prof. Irina Burova
Department of History of Foreign Literature
St. Petersburg State University
March 2010

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