#CongregationsIndia: Embed Culture in Societies, Create Audiences for Future -Dinesh Patnaik, ICCR

Industry Watch | December 24, 2020 | News

Congregations India Roshan Abbas Geometry Encompass EEMA Sanjoy Roy

Asked by Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Geometry Encompass & President, Event and Entertainment Management Association of India (EEMA), if the world had woken up to Indian culture, Dinesh K Patnaik, Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), replied in the affirmative, but with an important rider. The world woke up to Indian culture when the ICCR started in the ‘50s, post which a host of luminaries took Indian art and culture to the world, observed the career diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service who has served as Indian ambassador to multiple countries.

While agreeing that the power of Bollywood and event managers has taken it beyond India’s borders, Patnaik countered, “The question is, is it embedded within societies? I for one would like to embed it within societies and create the audiences for the future. I want to re-orient ICCR to that.”  

Abbas was in conversation with Patnaik and Sanjoy Roy, Past President - EEMA & Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, which hosts several festivals across the world including the Jaipur Literary Festival, at the inaugural edition of the virtual ‘CONGREGATIONS INDIA: Government, Political & Religious Events Summit’ organised by EVENTFAQs Media on December 24, 2020.

‘A nation’s philosophy has to resonate with the world’

Roy noted that while 50 years ago, India was not the ‘flavour of the world’, that came to pass 15 or 20 years ago with the opening up of the economy. There was an interest in doing business in India and understanding India, he explained.  

“When we look at art and culture, there is no point in segregating it. It is about realising the philosophy of the place. India has thousands of philosophies. A lot of people who come to India don’t know where to start. Culture breaks through those myths,” he added.

‘Art and culture not different from economy’

Patnaik pointed to the need to create the effervescence of culture within India, while also promoting it abroad. To this end, he urged the events industry to impress on the Government that art and culture are not different from economy, outlining their sizeable contribution to the GDP.

Roy advised event IP creators to assume that it would take three to five years to get returns on their investment while listing ‘collaboration, collaboration and collaboration’ as the mantra for success in the context of international events.

“If you come to the table with your vision not aligned, that collaboration is doomed to fail,” he said, citing the case of a potential collaboration that he avoided by instinct, and was proved right.

On the events industry collaborating with the Government in taking Indian culture abroad, Patnaik observed, “When we go abroad, we have two kinds of events that happen, one is by Government organisations and then there are other, private players. Unfortunately, we all work separately. If we all go together, it can be a huge event which does more for the country. We have to somehow do that. In partnering something (private) like the Jaipur Literary Festival, the Government is hesitant, not understanding that 80 to 85% of what happens abroad is private.”

Asked by moderator and EEMA President Abbas about the possibility of the industry body interfacing with the Government for collaboration on events abroad, Patnaik was emphatic in his response. He stated that EEMA should play that key role to benefit the event agencies, with business as their agenda, and the ICCR (and other Government bodies), whose objective is to promote Indian culture abroad.

The foundation of a potential win-win collaboration was thus laid at Congregations India, 2020.

The Director General of ICCR urged EEMA to bring the Government and agencies together to take Indian culture global.

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