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INDIA VOL 25 NO. 4 JUNE 2011

EDITORIAL NOTE

PERSPECTIVES

INDIA

A

s we go into print, meteorologists have announced that the monsoon is likely to keep its annual date with the southern shores of India on June 1. Coming in two streams from the Bay of Bengal in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west, the monsoon makes a leisurely progression towards northern India, usually reaching Delhi by the end of June or the beginning of July. The unforgettable scent of the first monsoon shower on land parched by the long Indian summer has been the inspiration of festivals and folklore, of music and poetry, of romance and reflection. Several eminent Indians share their reminiscences about the monsoon, echoing sentiments which are all too familiar. The rhythms of the rain also bring alive the chirping of birds, prompting us to take you to the Thattekad Sanctuary and the Kole wetlands of Kerala. The beautiful Coorg region in nearby Karnataka is also a traveller’s delight, while the gold filigree Thewa jewellery is a marvel of artistic skill and dexterity. The recently concluded jazz festival in Delhi witnessed a surprising turnout, testimony perhaps to the growing cosmopolitan culture of the capital city. In a different vein, celebrated author Khushwant Singh looks back on his association with New Delhi as the city gets ready to mark its first centenary. Author and city are, in fact, near contemporaries. In our continuing series on green heroes, we profile Ashok Khosla’s Development Alternatives and his enduring contribution to a sustainable environment, while Nepal is the focus in our section on development partnerships. We also explore the rapidly expanding global footprint of India Inc., highlighting the remarkable blend of vision and enterprise that has enabled major Indian companies to make high-profile acquisitions in Africa, Europe, the United States, Latin America and elsewhere. We value the comments and suggestions that we have received on our last issue. Do keep writing in! Happy reading.

PERSPECTIVES

Advancing India’s Conversations with the World WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD OF INDIA PERSPECTIVES Now on Facebook! Become Friends of India Perspectives Join the Facebook Community http://www.facebook.com/IndiaPerspectives Read India Perspectives online: www.indiandiplomacy.in SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS, EXCHANGE IDEAS, SEND YOUR DARTS AND LAURELS

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ESSENTIAL READING ON INDIA

INSIDE

Navdeep Suri

MONSOON Here Comes the Rain

KHUSHWANT SINGH Delhi's Centenary INDIA INC. Global Expansion

SAM PITRODA Renaissance Man

JUNE 2011  INDIA PERSPECTIVES

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INDIA THIS MONTH

March 31-June 30 Oriental Scenery The exhibition brings together for the first time 73 memorable aquatints of the 18th century by artists Thomas and William Daniell. Where: IGNCA, Janpath New Delhi

June 17- 9 Composite India Expo-2011 Grab your chance to see some newly exhibited consumer goods and new technological products. Where: Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai

JUNE-JULY

2011 July 3 Rath Yatra The grand festival covers the sacred journey of the statues of Lord Jagannath of Puri with brother Balabadhra and sister Subadhra to Gundicha Temple. Where: Puri, Orrisa

June 24 Sao Joao Festival The festival celebrates the bonds of newlyweds, particularly of the bridegroom and his new in-laws, who welcome him into their home. Where: Goa

June 13 Feast of St. Anthony The arrival of monsoon is celebrated with great gusto and if delayed a statue of St Anthony is lowered into a deep well. Where: Goa

June 16 Champakulam Boat Race The popular snake boat races mark the beginning of a month of festivities. Both men and women participate. Where: Alleppey, Kerala

EDITORIAL EDITORIAL NOTE NOTE

A July 10-11 Hemis Festival An energetic annual two-day festival in which Lamas perform splendid masked dances. Where: Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

July 8-10 Travel and Tourism Fair National and international organisations display travel and tourism products at this annual event. Where: Expotel, Hyderabad

July-August Pori Festival The event is celebrated at the temple of Trilokinath where the statue of the Lord is bathed with milk and yoghurt. Where: Throughout Himachal Pradesh

ss we we go go into into print, print, meteorologists meteorologists have have announced announced that that the the monsoon monsoonisislikely likelytotokeep keepits itsannual annualdate datewith withthe thesouthern southernshores shores ofofIndia Indiaon onJune June1.1.Coming Cominginintwo twostreams streamsfrom fromthe theBay BayofofBengal Bengal ininthe theeast eastand andthe theArabian ArabianSea Seaininthe thewest, west,the themonsoon monsoonmakes makes aa leisurely leisurely progression progression towards towards northern northern India, India, usually usually reaching reaching Delhi Delhiby bythe theend endofofJune Juneororthe thebeginning beginningofofJuly. July.The Theunforgettable unforgettable scent scentofofthe thefirst firstmonsoon monsoonshower showeron onland landparched parchedby bythe thelong longIndian Indiansummer summerhas has been beenthe theinspiration inspirationofoffestivals festivalsand andfolklore, folklore,ofofmusic musicand andpoetry, poetry,ofofromance romanceand and reflection. reflection.Several Severaleminent eminentIndians Indiansshare sharetheir theirreminiscences reminiscencesabout aboutthe themonsoon, monsoon, echoing echoingsentiments sentimentswhich whichare areall alltoo toofamiliar. familiar. The The rhythms rhythms ofof the the rain rain also also bring bring alive alive the the chirping chirping ofof birds, birds, prompting prompting us us toto take takeyou youtotothe theThattekad ThattekadSanctuary Sanctuaryand andthe theKole Kolewetlands wetlandsofofKerala. Kerala.The Thebeautiful beautiful Coorg Coorgregion regionininnearby nearbyKarnataka Karnatakaisisalso alsoaatraveller’s traveller’sdelight, delight,while whilethe thegold goldfiligree filigree Thewa Thewajewellery jewelleryisisaamarvel marvelofofartistic artisticskill skilland anddexterity. dexterity. The The recently recently concluded concluded jazz jazz festival festival inin Delhi Delhi witnessed witnessed aa surprising surprising turnout, turnout, testimony testimony perhaps perhaps toto the the growing growing cosmopolitan cosmopolitan culture culture ofof the the capital capital city. city. InIn aa different differentvein, vein,celebrated celebratedauthor authorKhushwant KhushwantSingh Singhlooks looksback backon onhis hisassociation associationwith with New NewDelhi Delhias asthe thecity citygets getsready readytotomark markits itsfirst firstcentenary. centenary.Author Authorand andcity cityare, are,inin fact, fact,near nearcontemporaries. contemporaries. InInour ourcontinuing continuingseries serieson ongreen greenheroes, heroes,we weprofile profileAshok AshokKhosla’s Khosla’sDevelopment Development Alternatives Alternativesand andhis hisenduring enduringcontribution contributiontotoaasustainable sustainableenvironment, environment,while whileNepal Nepal isisthe thefocus focusininour oursection sectionon ondevelopment developmentpartnerships. partnerships. We Wealso alsoexplore explorethe therapidly rapidlyexpanding expandingglobal globalfootprint footprintofofIndia IndiaInc., Inc.,highlighting highlighting the the remarkable remarkable blend blend ofof vision vision and and enterprise enterprise that that has has enabled enabled major major Indian Indian companies companies toto make make high-profile high-profile acquisitions acquisitions inin Africa, Africa, Europe, Europe, the the United United States, States, Latin LatinAmerica Americaand andelsewhere. elsewhere. We Wevalue valuethe thecomments commentsand andsuggestions suggestionsthat thatwe wehave havereceived receivedon onour ourlast lastissue. issue. Do Dokeep keepwriting writingin! in! Happy Happyreading. reading.

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JUNE JUNE2011 2011INDIA INDIAPERSPECTIVES PERSPECTIVES

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INDIA

PERSPECTIVES JUNE 2011  VOL 25 No. 4/2011

JUNE 2011

Editor: Navdeep Suri

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Assistant Editor: Neelu Rohra MEDIA TRANSASIA TEAM Editor-in- Chief: Maneesha Dube

Nostalgia: Building New Delhi Business: India Inc Abroad

MONSOON

Editor: Mannika Chopra Creative Director: Bipin Kumar Desk: Urmila Marak Editorial Coordinator: Kanchan Rana

Production: Sunil Dubey (DGM), Ritesh Roy (Sr. Manager) Brijesh K. Juyal (Pre-press Operator)

Dark clouds, the pitterpatter of raindrops and the heady scent of wet earth, the Indian monsoon conjures myriad images

Chairman: J.S. Uberoi President: Xavier Collaco

16

DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS

RHYTHM OF THE RAINS

Design: Ajay Kumar (Sr. Designer), Sujit Singh

6

30

Financial Controller: Puneet Nanda Send editorial contributions and letters to Media Transasia India Ltd. 323, Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Gurgaon 122016

India-Nepal: Good Neighbours

20

Profile: Ashok Khosla

24

Travel: Emerald Hills

26

Photofeature: Birdscapes of the South

30

Craft: A Glass Apart

36

Art: Portrait of an Artist as a Woman

38

IN REVIEW

Haryana, India E-mail: feedback.indiaperspectives@mtil.biz Telephone: 91-124-4759500 Fax: 91-124-4759550

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India Perspectives is published every month in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sinhala, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Views expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Music: Delhi Jazz Festival

42

Bhakti Utsav

43

Remembering Tagore

44

Verbatim: Sam Pitroda

46

This edition is published for the Ministry of External Affairs by Navdeep Suri, Joint Secretary, Public Diplomacy Division, New Delhi, 140 ‘A’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi-110001. Telephones: 91-11-23389471, 91-11-23388873, Fax: 91-11-23385549 Website: http://www.indiandiplomacy.in

For a copy of India Perspectives contact the nearest Indian diplomatic mission.

DINODIA

Text may be reproduced with an acknowledgement to India Perspectives

42

COVER PHOTO: AN EXQUISITE THEWA PEACOCK MOTIF ON A PLATE DESIGNED BY GIRISH RAJ SONI PHOTOGRAPH: RAVI DHINGRA / COVER DESIGN: BIPIN KUMAR

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NOSTALGIA

BUILDING

NEW DELHI

As New Delhi marks its centenary, eminent writer Khushwant Singh, son of Sir Sobha Singh, the builder credited with giving shape to the capital, recalls how wilderness gave way to a majestic city.

W

06 INDIA PERSPECTIVES

 JUNE 2011

PHOTO: BALJIT MALIK

PHOTO: COURTESY, DELHI, A THOUSAND YEARS OF BUILDING/ROLI BOOKS

hen I was brought to Delhi at the age of three or four from my village – Hadali – there was no New Delhi. And now, having lived here for most of the 90-odd years of my life, I can’t find my way about the town. So that really sums up what has happened to Delhi. I remember the time when there was no city, it was just full of kilns used to make bricks for the city yet to be built. There was a miniature railway that ran from Badarpur almost up to Connaught Circus (now known as Rajiv Chowk), called the Imperial Delhi Railway. It was a narrow-gauge train that brought sand and stones and other material and deposited them at the construction sites. The contractors got labour, largely from Rajasthan. There were at one time 30,000 of them in Delhi. There were also workers from Punjab and sangtarash (stone cutters), generally descendants of the people who built the Taj. They worked under the instructions of a master mason, a Scot named Cairn.

IMPERIAL GRANDEUR: (facing page) An aerial view of Connaught Place; (above) The Viceroy, Lord Irwin, architects and chief engineers at the construction site in 1929

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 JUNE 2011

PHOTO: ANDREAS VOLWAHSEN

PHOTO: D.N. CHAUDHURI

08 INDIA PERSPECTIVES

PHOTO: COURTESY, THE ATTIC

PHOTO: COURTESY, THE ATTIC

CREATING A CAPITAL: (clockwise from top) Rashtrapati Bhavan, 1953; the construction of India Gate in the 1920s and it was at the Coronation Durbar in Delhi in 1911 that King George V and Queen Mary changed the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi

The families involved in building the city, and there were quite a few, lived in what was then called Old Mill Road, which ran along the circle outside Parliament House (which had yet to come up), where the mosque and former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s grave are. We lived in shacks and my earliest recollection is of being woken up in the morning by the deafening roar of what is known as the ara (saw) machine. Housed in huge tin sheds, the iron saws or aras were used to cut stones into different sizes, water was poured on them to keep the saws from getting too hot. The other sound was the tick, tick, tick of the master masons making sculptures as Cairns had designed them. This went on all day. The city began to rise slowly. By 1922, all the material, stone and everything was in place. The wilderness giving way to the new city in a matter of a few years, between three to five years. (Edwin Landseer) Lutyens, the city’s chief architect, oversaw every detail carefully. As soon as he had marked the roads, they got a man called (William Robertson) Mustoe, who was a gardener or, perhaps, the person in charge of Kew Gardens, to set up a huge nursery. It is still there next to Humayun’s tomb. He had 500 varieties of trees, some from Australia, some from East Africa, some indigenous, while the roads were being laid he was planting trees alongside. All along Rajpath, jamun trees were planted. The jamun is a good fruit, very good for health but the variety of jamuns from these trees are hardly edible, they are more stone than flesh. My father, Sobha Singh, was the first one to put up a building in Connaught Circus, it is where the Wenger’s block is now. If you look above the Wenger’s shop, there is a red sandstone slab saying Sujan Singh Block – named after my grandfather. It was first run as a general store by a Parsi family called Framji’s. It sold cigars, chocolates and liquor. Later, it was taken over by Wenger’s. Sobha Singh was the first man to build a cinema in Delhi, the Regal building, and then the Regal cinema, and another called Rivoli. At first, we tried to run it ourselves. I remember, there were times when there were only ten people in the Regal building and we had to beg them to take their

money back, so we would not have to spend the money to screen a film and incur a loss. I married Teja Singh Malik’s daughter, the first Indian chief engineer of the Public Work’s Department responsible for constructing government buildings. For those interested in the history of Delhi, the names of Teja Singh Malik and Sobha Singh appear in alcoves located in South Block (that today houses important ministries). Look closely, on one side you can see the names of the builders, Sobha Singh, Dharam Singh, Baisakha Singh and four or five others. On the other side are the names of the architects and engineers — Lutyens, Herbet Baker and Teja Singh Malik. The building of Delhi was meant to take only four or five

LUTYENS OVERSAW EVERY DETAIL CAREFULLY. AS SOON AS HE HAD MARKED THE ROADS, THEY GOT MUSTOE, WHO WAS A GARDENER OR, PERHAPS, THE IN-CHARGE OF KEW GARDENS, TO SET UP A HUGE NURSERY.

years, it actually took nearly 16 years. By 1929, the major buildings had been built. Amongst the buildings that my father, Sobha Singh, one of the new city’s main builders, raised was the Jaipur Column. You can see the slender column in front of Rashtrapati Bhavan. What is notable is the inscription on it. It is significant that what motivated a man like Lutyens is almost repeated there in different words. The then Viceroy, Lord Irwin, asked the architect to suggest the inscription to go on the Jaipur Column and he suggested the following line: “Endow your thought with faith, your deed with courage, your life with sacrifice, so all men may know the greatness of India.” Irwin shortened it but kept the substance of it. It is Irwin’s suggestion that now appears on the column: “In thought faith, in word wisdom, in deed courage, in life sacrifice, so may India be great.” —Extracted from the Sir Sobha Singh Memorial Lectures, Delhi Series, organised by The Attic at the India International Centre

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DHEERAJ PAUL

MONSOON

“MONSOON SHAKES HANDS WITH YOU” Gulzar, Lyricist

RHYTHM OF THE

RAINS

Dark clouds, the pitter-patter of raindrops and the heady scent of wet earth, the Indian monsoon conjures myriad images

10 INDIA PERSPECTIVES

 JUNE 2011

I have lived in Mumbai for several decades now, and the city has only one defined season — the monsoon. If you watch closely, you will see the clouds moving towards the city from above the Arabian Sea. As a child, I would fill my shirt pockets with black jamuns, which fell from the trees. My ammi (mother) would shout at me for not taking a bag along to put in the jamuns, but next day, I would go back and do the same

thing all over again. Children would come out on the streets to sail paper boats in the pools of water. I remember the face of the farmers — you could feel their joy when they picked up the wet earth and inhaled its smell. Monsoon is my favourite season because it’s so physical. You can feel heat or cold. But rains touch your body, physically. You can embrace it. It’s not an abstract concept, like summer or winter. It’s the only season that shakes hands with you. I have used monsoon extensively in my film, Ijazzat. It was shot at the Khandala station during the rainy season. —As told to Deepali Nandwani

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“MONSOON IS THE DANCE BETWEEN EARTH, WATER AND SKY” Raja and Radha Reddy, Kuchipudi Dancers

PHOTO: PRASANTA BISWAS

“I LOVE THE SOUND OF RAINS” Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Filmmaker

In a moment

of crisis, I fall back on the monsoon and all that it stands for — the clouds, the changing colours of the sky, the showers and the smell of moist earth. As children growing up in a small town, we could feel, smell, touch and hear the rain. We would get drenched for hours. My childhood memories of rain are filled with multi-layered images telescoping into each other. Another strong link I have with the monsoon is music. My mother would play the organ and

12 INDIA PERSPECTIVES

 JUNE 2011

as my sister would sing Rabindranath Tagore songs, my brother would join in followed by myself. It was all very natural and spontaneous. Today, monsoon means many things to me. I see it in the rainwashed face of a young girl. I love to look at the rainwashed streets from my window. But more than anything else, I love the sound of rains. I have a CD, which contain the sounds and moods of the rains. I listen to it when I am disturbed, it helps me regain my rhythm. The ideal image of monsoon is to listen to the rain songs of Tagore while biting into ilish maach bhaja (fried hilsa) washed down with red wine. —As told to Shoma A. Chatterji

monsoon beating down on the earth fills us with a refreshing rhythm. India has six seasons, but it is the monsoon that is the most profound of all of them. Farmers dance with joy when they see the first shower. The rains bring relief to everyone at the end of a sweltering summer. Monsoon is the dance between the three realms. It is when the earth, water and skies dance, matching step by step. The dark clouds loom overhead. Lightning lashes out and thunder envelopes all other sounds. Monsoon ragas are manifestations of human emotions occasioned by the joys and passions of the rainy season. Dance has also discovered choreography in monsoon beats and the gaits of the creatures during the rains. When the rains start, peacocks spread their feathers and dance in happiness; frogs jump out of the ponds and dance; the winds sway to the rhythm; even the plants dance and the birds chirp in happiness.

RAJEEV RASTOGI

The sound of the first droplets of the

“MONSOON CLOUDS ALTERED MY WHOLE CREATIVE PROCESS” Satish Gupta, Artist

As the first showers fell, my mother would let me run out and perform a rain dance with the neighbourhood children. The smell of mud, soaked with rain, and the whiff of corn being roasted over the coals by a hawker camping outside our home are my fondest memories of the rains. I like to sketch the movement of clouds, sometimes dark and forbidding, sometimes light and reassuring. By doing this, I have learned about movement and stillness, about the nebulous and the steadfast, about sound and silence, about dark and light, about symmetry and asymmetry. Observing the freedom of the monsoon clouds has influenced my whole creative process.


“KAJRI, A MUSICAL FORM, IS AN ILLUSTRATION OF INDIA’S COMPOSITE CULTURE” Shubha Mudgal, Hindustani Vocalist

BIJOY CHOWDHURY

Kajri is

a literary and musical form that celebrates the rains. It is said that Kajri, or Kajjali, is originally a musical offering made by a Muslim poet to the goddess Kajjala Devi, or Maa Vindhyavasini Devi. So pleased was the goddess with this offering that she declared that devotees singing Kajri compositions for her would receive her grace and benevolence. Kajri is an illustration of India’s composite culture. Transcending barriers of religion and community, both Hindu and Muslim composers offer their Kajri compositions to the goddess. Other interpretations regarding the etymology of Kajri associate it with kajal or kohl, which is dark like the rain clouds. The fertility-related festival of Teej during the monsoon months is also called Kajali Teej. In parts of the country, the festival is celebrated with the singing of special songs called Kajri. Unfortunately, like many other song forms in the country, the Kajri, too, faces the threat of being wiped out.

“RAINY SEASON MEANS GETTING WET AND DIRTY” Sourav Ganguly, Cricketer

PHOTO: PRASANTA BISWAS

“RAIN CREATES BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS OF TOGETHERNESS” Hrithik Roshan, Actor

Like children across India I loved splashing in the rain and getting wet and dirty. I recall accompanying my elder brother and several other boys to their school’s annual function. It had been raining continuously for two days and a large part of Kolkata was waterlogged. Suddenly, our car stalled. The venue was still some distance away, but we decided to walk it. I was too small to walk through the waist-high water. So my brother carried me on his shoulders. We arrived soaked to the skin and dirty, but also very happy. When I am home, I feast on hilsa (fish). I am also fond of Himsagar mangoes found at this time of the year. —As told to Uttara Gangopadhyay

Monsoon evokes nostalgia. Rains open the floodgates of memories and strikes emotional chords within me. As a child, rains, especially heavy rains, meant freedom from school and studies. Instead of poring over homework, it would be play, play and play for me and my friends! I would be out in the water—the wetter the better! The road outside my home would be flooded and I would make paper boats and

watch them bob around. While cycling was fun, doing the same in the rains took the activity to an altogether different level. I would be up early on rainy days, looking out at the unforgettable vistas of dark, grey mornings and a washed, cleaner world. When Suzanne (now my wife) entered my life, rains became synonymous with romance. Rains create beautiful moments of togetherness for two people in love. The sight, feel and aroma of the first rain every year is special, and if we are together at that moment, it becomes magical. The atmosphere is just right for romance. —As told to Rajiv Vijayakar

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ESSAY

A.K. BHATTACHARYA

INDIA INC’S

GLOBAL EXPANSION

Corporate India’s increasing international footprint is also the story of the country’s economic reforms programme

N

o assessment of India Inc’s expansion in the global arena in the last two decades will be complete without recognising the role economic reforms played in unshackling the Indian economy and unleashing the ‘animal spirit’ of the Indian entrepreneur. Indeed, the story of India Inc’s expanding global footprint is also the story of India’s economic reforms programme, launched in 1991 by the P.V. Narasimha Rao government with Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister. The reforms led to the rising power of India Inc which became the trigger for more reforms, as the process became irreversible and acquired its own momentum. It is not that the Indian entrepreneur did not set its eyes across Indian shores before these reforms began. As early as 1959, the Birla group of companies set up a textile mill in Ethiopia, making it the first Indian venture in a foreign country: the Birlas were the most adventurous in that era. In 1960, they set up an engineering unit in Kenya. India Inc’s overseas ambitions, however, plateaued in the late 1960s. According to one estimate, there were only 140 foreign investment projects by Indian companies in 1983, with

16 INDIA PERSPECTIVES

 JUNE 2011

PLATFORM FOR TRADING: Nasdaq stock market in New York

another 88 similar projects under different stages of execution. By 1990, the total number of Indian projects abroad rose to 229 and most of these were small or medium-scale projects. This is borne out by the fact that the total value of the equity the Indian government allowed for investment in these projects in the 15-year period between 1975 and 1990 was a modest $220 million. But 1991 marked the turning point for the Indian economy. A balance of payments crisis and fiscal indiscipline left the P.V. Narasimha Rao government with no option other than ushering in economic reforms that, at a slow and steady pace, released the economy from the controls of the past many years. While foreign exchange reserves began rising

again (after dwindling to a record low of less than a billion dollars!) and the government’s fiscal health began to improve, the Rao government gradually removed foreign exchange controls on India Inc’s plans for investment abroad. The results were there for all to see. The number of projects approved for investments abroad increased from around 200 in 1991 to 400 by the turn of the century and to around 1,600 by 2008. The total value of Foreign Direct Investment made by Indian companies abroad went up from about $25 million in the early 1990s to about $14 billion in 2007 and $18 billion in 2008. Thanks to the global meltdown in the latter half of 2008, India’s investment abroad in projects also declined and in

2010 they came down to $12 billion. Nevertheless, the size of the investments is significant. And if you wondered where all the money came from the series of major global companies Indian businesses acquired in the last several years (remember Tatas taking over Corus, the A.V. Birla group acquiring Novelis or the Bharti group gaining controlling stake in the African telecom giant Zain), these figures will provide an answer. Acquisition of foreign companies and projects is only one aspect of the expanding footprint of a resurgent India Inc in the global arena. The rising power of India Inc in a globally competitive environment is also evident in the macroeconomic numbers that characterise the Indian economy in the last two

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INDIAN COMPANIES WITH

INTERNATIONAL SUBSIDIARIES 46

926613.07

Tata Steel

337

815173.07

Hindalco

45

512244.05

Reliance Industry

22

154401.08

Suzlon Energy

44

147286.05

Adani Enterprises

11

116237.09

Wipro

72

64122

Mahindra & Mahindra

41

33737.02

Larsen & Toubro

19

20957.09

Bharti Airtel

11

2511.05

Figures in ` millions Companies ranked by net sales All figures for period ending March 2010

SOURCE: COMPANIES ANNUAL REPORTS

Note: TCS not included as data for the company was not available

decades after economic reforms. In the 1980s, the trade and capital flows into the Indian economy accounted for barely 21 percent of India’s gross domestic product. Of this, India’s foreign trade accounted for an estimated 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and foreign capital flows took care of only six percent of GDP. In other words, the Indian economy’s exposure to global economic flows was restricted to only a fifth of its total gross output. Compare that figure today. Gross trade and capital flows account for almost 98 percent of India’s GDP, of which trade’s share (including of course both merchandise and services trade) is 53 percent and capital flows have a share of 45 percent of the GDP. India’s large trade flows are also an indication of how India Inc has increased its presence in

AFP

Tata Motors

Net Sales

AFP

No. of Subsidiaries

different parts of the globe, not just through investment but also through trade. This has become possibly as India has opened up to imports, which in turn allows Indian companies to produce final goods more efficiently and sell them either in the growing domestic market or in other markets of the world. From less than $50 billion of foreign trade in 1991, India’s foreign trade is now over $650 billion. This growth would not have been possible if India Inc had not exploited the market opportunities in different parts of the world.

GOING GLOBAL: (clockwise from above left) Suzlon Energy in Portugal; Bharti Airtel in Sri Lanka; the company also buys Zain’s assets in South Africa and Tata Motors acquires UK-based luxury car company, Jaguar

The sharp rise in gross capital flows is another aspect of the rising power of India Inc. Once again, this was possible largely because of the implementation of the economic reforms programme in the 1990s, a process that has continued in the same trajectory even though the pace has been uneven. The Indian stock markets had remained closed to foreign institutional flows for many decades until the early 1990s when the Rao government liberalised investments in the secondary capital markets. Foreign institutional investors did not take long to see the huge potential for returns on their investment in the Indian stock market and be part of the Indian growth story. While this gave rise to capital flows into the Indian economy, the Indian government used these flows to remove controls on Indian companies’ investments abroad. Today, an Indian company can invest in a company abroad without any prior clearance, provided the investment amount is within 200 percent of its net worth.

How does the future look for India Inc’s global march? There are two ways one can address this question. One, India’s share in total foreign investment outflows in the world continues to be less than one percent, while the share of China is 1.3 percent and that of Brazil is 1.1 percent. Clearly, India’s potential is yet to be fully realised. Two, it is important that the current bottlenecks coming in the way of India Inc’s future success in the global arena are removed. It is now time to focus on creating first-class infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, schools, housing and drinking water) in India so that India Inc can take advantage of such facilities to improve its competitive edge and gain further inroads into the global markets. India Inc’s global march can be a two-way, win-win story. Making the Indian economy strong will also make a strong India Inc, which can then further expand its global footprint. —Ashok K. Bhattacharya is group managing editor, Business Standard

JUNE 2011  INDIA PERSPECTIVES

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DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS

INDIA-NEPAL

Good

Neighbours Close people-to-people contact and scores of development projects supported by the Indian Government reinforces the India-Nepalese relationship

AFP

STRENGTHENING TIES: Nepalese Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal (right) with Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna in Kathmandu

TEXT: MEENAKSHI KUMAR

I

n March this year, students of Shree Saraswati Secondary School in the dusty little village of Beladevipur in Nepal’s Kailali District had reasons to cheer. Their school finally had a new three-storey building along with brand new furniture. The wait for the new structure had been a long one but it was definitely worth it. The spanking new wing had been constructed with financial assistance from the Government of India which had provided NRs (Nepali Rupees) 3.3 crore under the Nepal-India Economic Cooperation Programme. Later in April, on his visit to Nepal, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna laid the foundation stone for the Integrated Check Post at Birgunj as well as for the Birgunj-Thori road. Both these projects are being built with India’s assistance and are part of the programme. These are just a few of the innumerable projects that India has been involved with in Nepal, providing financial assistance and invaluable expertise. The development projects have been a major driver of the age-old relationship between the two

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countries. This is one relationship that is historical, cultural, ethnic and geographic. “Relations with Nepal are and will continue to be a matter of the highest priority for India,” reiterated Krishna during his visit. Nepal’s Foreign Secretary, Dr Madan K. Bhattarai, who was in India recently, calls it, “an extremely close relationship that is governed by mutual aspiration and respect.” This close relationship was initiated in 1950 with the IndoNepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship that defined security relations between the two countries. It also had an agreement governing both bilateral trade and trade transiting on Indian soil. The treaty paved the way for a special relationship that granted Nepal preferential economic treatment. Ever since, India has been at the forefront of providing financial assistance to the development of Nepal’s economy. In fact, for over six decades, a large part of Nepal’s infrastructure has been developed by India. The Nepal-India Economic Cooperation Programme, which is an important component of the India-Nepal relationship, has

ONGOING PROJECTS MANMOHAN MEMORIAL POLYTECHNIC

INTEGRATED CHECK POSTS

NRs 413.6 MILLION

NRs 8.34 BILLION

TRAUMA CENTRE

CROSS BORDER RAIL LINKS

NRs 1448 MILLION

NRs 21.23 BILLION

(includes the cost of medical equipment and furniture to be supplied)

B.P. KOIRALA INSTITUTE OF HEALTH SCIENCES

ESTABLISHMENT OF CENTRAL DEPOSITORY SYSTEM IN NEPAL

NRs 1.92 BILLION

NRs 147.2 MILLION

DEVIGHAT HYDROPOWER PROJECT

NRs 240 MILLION TERAI ROADS

NRs 11 BILLION

COMPLETED PROJECTS EAST WEST OPTICAL FIBRE CABLES PROJECT

NRs 1.35 BILLION

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ROAD TO PROGRESS: (clockwise from above) External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna at the foundation laying ceremony of the Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj; Devighat Hydropower Station in Trishuli; Bharat Nepal Maitri Emergency and Trauma Centre; Lumbini Museum and B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences

various projects under its rubric. The Small Project Development Scheme is one such which covers the needs of the community at the grassroots level. The projects, each below NRs 5 crore address local needs such as a school building, hospital, drinking water, rural electrification and so on. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, former Indian Ambassador to Nepal, fondly recalls his involvement with the Small Project Development Scheme. “It was a great success. The locals would identify the need and after doing the requisite groundwork, would put in a demand for the need to us. We, on our part, would do all the mandatory paperwork and assessment and then release the funds.” What made the scheme special was the complete involvement of the community which ensured that the project was implemented. It was, as he says, a completely transparent operation. There are approximately 400 projects under this scheme and so far 195 have been completed covering almost all the 75 districts of Nepal. The other important scheme comprises intermediate level projects which range from NRs 5 to 25 crores

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THE CLOSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES WAS INITIATED IN 1950 WITH THE INDO-NEPAL TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP THAT DEFINED SECURITY RELATIONS BETWEEN THE INDIA AND NEPAL. and large projects ranging from NRs 25 crores and above. The upcoming Bharat-Nepal Emergency & Trauma Centre in Kathmandu is one such large project. The other important one is the Terai Roads project which is being built with Indian assistance amounting to NRs 1,100 crore. “The road project will enhance connectivity between Nepal and India so that people and goods are able to move seamlessly,” says Sanjiv Ranjan, Director, (North) Northern Division, Ministry of External Affairs. So far, work on 600km in the first phase has begun.

For Nepal, socio-economic development is of prime importance and in that respect they acknowledge the role that India has played in the development of their economy. “It’s gratifying to know that Mr Krishna was in Birgunj. India attaches highest priority to Nepal,” says Bhattarai. Even as India goes about extending all financial support – annually it spends more than ` 150 crore approximately on the projects – there are many who feel that we need to do much more. Professor Sangeeta Thapliyal, who works on Nepal at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s South Asian Studies Centre, is one of them. “We can set up more educational institutes or more hospitals across Nepal,” she says. Having said that, India continues to be Nepal’s largest trade partner and source of foreign investment. It offers annually the largest number of academic scholarships – nearly 1,800 – for the people of Nepal. Besides, it offers two Lines of Credit to the country. In 2006, US $100 million Line of Credit was extended, of which projects totaling to more than US $60 million have

been approved. Last year, another Line of Credit worth US $250 million more was extended. Mukherjee believes it’s at the people level that the projects have an enormous impact. He remembers a random instance. “In many schools in Nepal, girls would drop out after a few years. This was because these buildings didn’t have toilets. So we ensured that the buildings we built had toilets for the girls. Soon, girls started coming back to the schools. It was so heartwarming.” Similarly, the 200-bed Bharat-Nepal Emergency & Trauma Centre in Kathmandu being built with world-class facilities would turn out to be a boon for the Nepalese people. It’s the impact of activities like these that make a huge difference to the centuries-old relationship between India and Nepal. As Ranjan says, “Foreign policy only provides a structure for the relationship. It’s the people-to-people contact which provides ballast to bilateral relations.” Indeed, it is this positive synergy which needs to be harnessed to keep alive the relationship between the two countries. 

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PROFILE

FIXING AN UNEQUAL

WORLD

Much before sustainable development became a fashionable term, Ashok Khosla pioneered the concept TEXT: ARCHITA BHATTA

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AFP

HE COMBINED HIS INTERESTS, WHICH RANGED FROM PHYSICS TO ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT, BECOMING ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

HE WAS AWARDED THE 2002 SASAKAWA ENVIRONMENT PRIZE, THE NOBEL PRIZE OF THE ENVIRONMENT WORLD.

AFP

I

n the 1970s, when most Indian students in the US were lining up for a green card, a few of them, were avoiding the lure of the queue. Among them a physics student from Harvard University. The youngster, Ashok Khosla, wanted to return to India after completing his higher education. At Harvard, he dabbled with several subjects – business, economics, philosophy, till he stumbled upon his first love – environment. He combined his interests which ranged from physics to economics and environment becoming in the process one of the pioneers of the concept of sustainable development – the new age goal which seeks to achieve growth without environmental degradation. Three decades later, as countries compete to define national policies around this goal it’s time to recall one of the first authors of this idea. The seeds of the concept were sown when Khosla was asked to design and teach the inaugural groundbreaking undergraduate course on environment at Harvard. (One of the course’s more impressionable students was former American Vice-President, Al Gore.) While he was teaching he had the opportunity to work closely with Roger

Randall Dougan Revelle, one of the first scientists to work on global warming. The two academics went on to write The Survival Equation, one of the first textbooks on the subject. “I was privileged to study and work with some of the best minds of that time,” recalls this dynamic activist as he sits in his south Delhi home surrounded by books that deal with subjects ranging from theories of chaos to sustainable consumption. Soon enough he returned home, armed with a doctorate in experimental physics and an invaluable experience teaching environment, to become the foundingdirector of the Indian Government’s Office of Environmental Planning and Coordination, the first such agency to be established in a developing country. In 1976, Khosla was appointed director of the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP). Bursting with new ideas he went to launch INFOTERRA, a global environmental information exchange system. However, the son of a university professor and a college lecturer did not want to be limited by large, sometimes, rigid, institutions. In 1983, when the environmental movement in India had not even blinked Khosla formed Development

Alternatives, a non-governmental organisation focussed to promote commercially viable, environmentfriendly technologies, blending resource management with environmental goals. He started Development Alternatives from his own house located in a wellheeled area of south Delhi. Steadily, small significant changes were introduced, like using innovative technologies like solar cooking stoves and handloom paper recycling technologies. Today, the 71-yearold’s eyes twinkle as he recounts the kind of following Development Alternatives

attracted and how a bunch of students from the Indian Institute of Technology landed up in his office and offered to work there – pro bono. The word spread and predictably the accolades followed. The pioneer of the concept of sustainable development was awarded the 2002 Sasakawa Environment Prize, the Nobel Prize of the environment world, and was named in the UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. He has been a board member of numerous prestigious global environmental organisations, including the Club of Rome, the World

Conservation Union and the International Institute for Sustainable Development and served as an adviser to the World Bank, the United Nations’ Development Programme and the Indian government. Age has not withered his enthusiasm. Khosla still maintains a busy schedule, lecturing, writing, hoping to bring about change and consciousness through his commitment to environment. Spurred on by his wife and his passion for music, the activist in him refuses to fade away. —Archita Bhatta is an environmental communications’ consultant and science journalist

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TRAVEL

SPLENDID VISTAS: (clockwise from facing page) A view of the Coorg valley; Talacauvery, the birthplace of River Cauvery; a basket- seller puts his wares to good use and Abbey Falls near Madikeri

Emerald Hills

Lush green forests, coffee plantations and breathtaking scenery – Coorg, a picture-perfect district in Karnataka offers an embarrassment of riches TEXT: SURESH MENON

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T

here is not a single inhospitable family in Coorg; everybody is a potential hockey star or army general; guns are as common as handkerchiefs; everything is different from the rest of India – the food, the customs, the settlements, the celebrations, the ozone layer. Everybody has a smile on their face, even the wild pig that is about to become a family dinner in a few hours. The clichés are true. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru thought so. As far back as in 1950, he said, “Coorg has given great generals to the Indian Army. It’s noted for its

choicest coffee and if I am permitted to add one more to these specialties, I can mention Coorg is famous for its beautiful and comely women.” In the southern state of Karnataka, Coorg is the most laidback of the districts. The richness outside – the forests, the plantations, the rivers, the hills – is reflected in the richness inside the Coorgis (or Kodavas). Visitors are quickly made to feel at home, as hearts, honey and hooch bottles are opened out to them. There is none of that tourists-have-ruined-ourbeautiful-place complaint, so common in other regions of the

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NATURE’S GLORY: (clockwise from right) A bridge on a stream within the coffee estate; it requires more than a visit to discover the multifaceted treasures of the rainforests — seen here is a butterfly; statues of Buddha inside a monastery in Coorg; tourists enjoying safaris at the Dubare Elephant Camp in Coorg

RUSTIC CHARM: A Kodava couple in traditional fineries

country that burst into public consciousness after being hidden for long. Tourism officials may call it the Kashmir of the South or Scotland of India but Coorg is Coorg and needs no artificial boost. If neighbouring Kerala hadn’t thought of it first, this might have been God’s Own Country – one where the Almighty himself (or herself, to be fair) might come for a holiday. The best way to enjoy Coorg is to drive around, stop over at the many resorts, rest and start again. Nothing repeats itself even over a week’s stay. Cauvery is the sacred river that runs through Coorg, often underground, sometimes surfacing as if to reassure the people that it is protecting them. Talacauvery, the birthplace of the river, is on the slopes of the Bhamagiri Hills, some 1,400 metres above sea level. At the foothills is Bhagamandala, the confluence of Cauvery and the underground rivers Kannika and Sujyothi. Madikeri, the district headquarters of Coorg, has its palaces and forts and temples, all of which are worth a visit, but these are no patch on the natural beauty of its waterfalls, ravines, flowers and animals. You can trek, you can fish, you can take long walks, you can try and identify the various strains of colour and smell or you can use one of the plantations as base and take in the surrounding areas. The wonderful thing about a Coorg holiday is that it caters to two extremes – those who are full of energy, want to see places, hug history and discover things for themselves and those who believe in a more gentle, rest-rich approach to holiday-making. Ecotourism, the kind encouraged by resorts, such as Orange County, is popular for this very reason. The city-bred are allowed to be one with nature during the day and return to the comforts of the well-made bed, hot food and more if they want to. It is an unbeatable combination. If you tire of the elephants, the birds and the streams, you can take time off to attend a wedding. When a child is born, a gun is fired in the air to pass the message on to friends and neighbours. The Kodavas are allowed, by law, to carry guns without licences – they actually

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THE KODAVAS ARE ALLOWED, BY LAW, TO CARRY GUNS WITHOUT LICENCES – THEY WORSHIP THEIR GUNS. THE FESTIVAL OF ARMS, KEIL POLDU, IS CELEBRATED IN THE FIRST WEEK OF SEPTEMBER

worship their guns. The festival of arms, Keil Poldu, is celebrated in the first week of September and is a time for merry-making. If you visit in April, you can witness a unique hockey tournament, with families playing against one another for the title. Each year it is hosted by a different family. Sixty families competed in the first tournament in 1997, and by 2003 there were 280 families in the fray. M.M. Somaiya, M.P. Ganesh and B.P. Govinda are only some of the players from Coorg who went on to play international hockey, and, in fact, led India. Virtually every team in Bangalore, from school to club, has a player from Coorg, and he invariably is the star. What makes the women so beautiful, the men such hockey experts and the soldiers so respected – Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and General K.S. Thimayya to mention but two – in Coorg? Impossible to tell, of course, as you drive through Madikeri or stare at Abbey Falls. Is it the air? Is it the coffee? Is it the presence of so many natural phenomena in so small a space? Is it the advantage of being descendants of the Greeks who came with Alexander the Great, as some believe the Kodavas are? We can leave the explanations to others. But for those who like the clichés to come alive when they visit a place, it is enough that Coorg lives up to its reputation. Half a century after Nehru made his comment, it still holds good. And there is something comforting about that. —Suresh Menon writes on travel and sports

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PHOTOFEATURE

BIRDSCAPES OF THE

SOUTH The low lands and forests of the Thattekad Sanctuary and the Kole Wetland of Kerala are excellent birding spots

TEXT AND PHOTOS: UNNI KRISHNAN PULIKKAL

GREEN BARBETS: These birds sat like this for quite a while, just rubbing beaks and looking into each other’s eyes. Love was clearly in the air; (inset) the black-headed munia, was photographed just outside the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad

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KINGFISHER: This bird sat silent and motionless, as if sculpted out of the perch it was sitting. Suddenly, it sensed a small fish surfacing in the water below and before I could blink, it was back from the water with its prey struggling in its beak; (inset) a large egret taking flight

O

f the many national parks I have covered in Kerala during my many, many birdwatching expeditions, Thattekad Sanctuary and the Kole Wetland remain my perennial favourites. Thattekad Sanctuary contains 253 kinds of birds, including the rare frogmouth, a bird I manage to ‘capture’ in the Bhoothathankett Dam’s catchment area. Situated in the Devikulam Taluk of Idukki District, the sanctuary is spread over an area of 25.16 sq km. Set up in 1983 at the instance of renowned ornithologist Dr Salim Ali it has an undulating terrain with a cover of mixed deciduous forest interspersed with patches of grassland. Here, teak trees with sparse leaves make bird watching easier even for untrained eyes. The birds commonly spotted here are the Indian roller, common snipe, crow pheasant, jungle nightjar, kite, grey drongo, Malabar trogon, woodpecker, large-pied wagtail, baya sparrow, grey jungle fowl, Indian hill mynah, robin, babblers and darter.

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If you are lucky you may spot some rare species like the crimson-throated barbette or the occasional bee-eater, sunbird, shrike, fairy blue bird, grey- headed fishing eagle, black-winged kite, night heron, grey heron, Malabar shama, common grey hornbill and the Malabar hornbill. On its part, the Kole Wetland in Thrissur District is a popular nesting ground for birds, especially migratory only. According to ecologists, the Kole Wetlands is the third largest in India, after Chilika Lake (Orissa) and Amipur Tank (Gujarat). Birdlife International, an organisation working to protect the world’s birds and their habitats, states that this area is home to globally threatened species such as the spotbilled pelican, oriental darter, black-headed ibis, painted stork, blackbellied tern, cinereous vulture and the greater spotted eagle. For the avian lover, this is the equivalent of paradise. —Unni Krishnan Pulikkal is a passionate birdwatcher and photographer

BABBLER: Seems this babbler was probably waiting for its mate. The morning light coupled with the bland background gave it a moody look. The intensity of expectation seen in its eyes was clean; (inset) portrait of a red whiskered bulbul

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CRAFT

A GLASS The ancient art of thewa fuses the glory of the past with modern utility

PHOTO: BIMLA VERMA

PHOTO: RAVI DHINGRA

APART

TEXT: RENI RAJAN

YESTERYEAR’S HERITAGE: (clockwise from facing page) An exquisite thewa neckpiece by designer Roopa Vohra; peacock motif on a plate designed by Girish Raj Soni; a thewa jewellery set and finely crafted ornate boxes

REVIVALIST COUTURE JEWELLER ROOPA VOHRA

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the art to a Soni family, who, for a long time, remained the sole torchbearers of this tradition. Keeping that legacy alive is a descendant of the Soni clan, Girish Raj Soni. “Today my family is the sole master of the art,” he affirms. Indeed, Soni has been recognised for his talent winning a national award for his thewa mastercreation, an eight-inch plate embellished with a Mughal hunting scene with a peacock dancing in the centre. The Government of India even released stamps of the art in honour of this master creation. For a long time, thewa held onto its original Mughal motifs like elephants and peacocks. About a decade ago, however, new forms were tried thanks to the efforts of designers like Roopa

Vohra. “Today, thewa has moved beyond being only an artefact,” says Vohra. “We have introduced new designs, shapes and shades to the art.” Her favourite creation is a glass neckpiece treated with mother of pearl, diamonds and enamelled kundan. Using the traditional Mughal motifs, patterns from antique carpets, rugs, paintings and textile, this art form has today become a stylish fashion statement. Thewa artefacts are now no longer just tabletop items found in familiar green and blue hues but are infused with geometric shapes and even Egyptian motifs. The technique of thewa is now used to create marvellous ornaments, plates, trays, belts, perfume bottles, as well as small objects for daily use. Bridging the past and the present, the mystical and the modern, thewa has become the perfect choice if you want to add that luxurious royal touch to your lifestyle.  PHOTO: BIMLA VERMA

A

400-year-old art form, thewa jewellery gained popularity during the Mughal period in the land of royal colours, Rajasthan, where art and splendour, even today, are a way of life. An intricate technique, thewa fuses a thin 23 karat gold sheet onto multicoloured Belgian glass, which is further treated to highlight the yellow metal. Before that, the gold film is embedded into a cake of shellac and then cut into the desired pattern. The patterned leaf is then fused onto the glass. Silver foil is often placed under the glass to add a richer look. Although the beginning of this unique art is a bit of a mystery, it is believed it was started by a family in Marwar, in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan, who passed on this practice from generation to generation never making it public. Others claim that the technique actually originated in Bengal. Not doing well there and in search of patronage, Bengali artisans moved westwards finally settling in Rajasthan, where they taught

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ART

PORTRAIT OF AN

ARTIST AS A WOMAN

DIFERRENT STROKES: Works by Saba Hasan (left) Dissent and (below) Babylon

I

A new generation of women artists defies, deconstructs and celebrates the feminist impulse TEXT: NIRUPAMA DUTT

Our generation is extremely lucky as the generations before us have fought and resolved a lot of issues and given us a big platform to express our ideas freely.

–Anjum Singh

THE MIND’S EYE: Works by Anjum Singh (clockwise from above) Cola Bloom and Shadows of Blue

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think our generation is extremely lucky as the generations before us fought and resolved a lot of issues and gave us a platform to express our ideas freely… for someone like me, my concerns are not just limited to gender but include issues like environment and global violence,” says Anjum Singh, a Santiniketan-trained artist and daughter of renowned artists, Arpita and Paramjit Singh. She went to the United States to study painting and printmaking at the Concoran School of Art in Washington DC in 1992 and it was there that she began experimenting with her works, mediums and thinking. For a long time, Amrita Sher-Gil, with her IndoEuropean parentage and Parisian schooling, was the sole lady of the Indian canvas. Today she still enjoys an iconic status but it was a few decades before other Indian women artists followed her. In the 70s, there came, as eminent art connoisseur Ebrahim Alkazi says, a tide. These earnest women, self-taught or armed with art degrees like Anjolie Ela Menon, Nalini Malini, Gogi Saroj Pal, Neelima Sheikh and Arpita Singh, reinforced their feminist sensibilities paving the way for the next generation to delve more freely in the world of colour, form and line. Without them, perhaps a leading painter like Sheila Makhijani would not say: “I object to the term ‘woman artist’. I am an artist. Also I do not see myself as a crusader. Each artist learns from her own individual journey.” Manisha Parekh, daughter of celebrated artists Manu and Madhavi Parekh, who has made a space on her own, adds: “We do owe a lot to the generation of women artists who came before us. But I am no torchbearing feminist though I would describe my work

Art and life are for me simultaneously about the personal as well as about cultural contact, about experiencing the other. Urdu is an inalienable part of my identity and culture.

–Saba Hasan

as feminine. I have been able to translate newer perceptions into my works, creating a space to cohabit.” These are the eloquent voices of a new breed of women artists or artists who just happen to be women. See their art and a fascinating world of images opens up, wide, spliced with adventure and experimentation. If things were made easier for them by artists who preceded them, they too have challenges in formulating their own language and telling their own stories.

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I am no torchbearing feminist and would describe my work as feminine. I have been able to translate newer perceptions into our works, make the space to cohabit.

I object to the term ‘woman artist’. I am an artist. Also I do not see myself as a crusader. Each artist learns from her own individual journey..

NOVEL PERSPECTIVES: Uncertain Eggs by Manisha Parekh made with handmade paper on board and silk

–Manisha Parekh

–Sheila Makhijani

SOUL SPEAK: Works by Sheila Makhijani (clockwise from top left) Scuttle — I am a Big One and Flapping Around Will Not Help

Elegance and minimalism mark the works of Manisha, she creates rhythm and harmony by repeating motifs, producing a rich texture as she moves along with strings or beads. With a post-graduation from the College of Art in Delhi Sheila moved on to study art in Japan. Based in the capital, she has won acclaim at home and abroad for the sheer energy of her abstract forms revealing colour and line. Delving in the ‘global’, Anjum gives meaning to everyday and somewhat mundane objects, building layer upon layer in sculpture, installation and painting. Not all artists of the new order consider social consciousness or expression of it in the post-modern age as ‘sinful’. An artist who has explored culture and society most evocatively in her works is Saba Hasan who began painting the arch and the dome of the Hauz Khas madrassa in New Delhi. She has matured into a

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sensitive artist, combining images, objects and Urdu calligraphy to create works of impact trying to fight the stereotypes surrounding Muslims. “Art and life are for me simultaneously about the personal as well as about cultural contact, about experiencing the other. Urdu is an inalienable part of the many layers of my identity and our larger Asian culture. So its use here is a conscious choice probably as a political construct, my personal resistance to the global wave,” says Saba. Sonia Khurana is a visual media artist, working in the area between video, photography, performance, installation and public art. Her use of her own body, facing an unstable camera in the flapping fluid movements of a bird are a comment on the stereotypes imposed by society on a woman’s body. The woman and her body are also explored with a touch of erotica by Mithu Sen who very often places her own sensuous

MYRAID EXPRESSIONS: Two untitled works using mixed media by Mithu Sen

I wish I’d been an artist in the 1970s, when being a feminist was glamorous, but I was born carrying the gene of feminism. Yet I’m still labelled as a feminist artist.

–Mithu Sen

dusky face in her works. “I wish I’d been an artist in the 1970s, when being a feminist was glamorous and contemporary. Today I’m still stamped as a feminist artist. Why don’t we cultivate some new labels?” When it comes to the self and the world, an artist who has excelled, through using the camera, is Bengaluru-based Pushpamala N. She began with terracotta and won the Trienalle award as a young artist for her delightful sculptures of pigs. But as she moved along, she decided to discard ‘ham’ for all times and became her own subject in photographs, first making herself the heroine of Bollywood hits and then moving on to more complex ethnographic imagery in collaboration with photographer Claire Arni. In today’s age then what does it mean being a woman artist? “It is difficult to say what it would be otherwise. My observations and my choices are because I am a woman. So my art too is obviously the result of that. However, when I create my art, my being a woman does not play an important role at all,” ruminates Anjum. So what is this artistic journey all about? Sheila sums it up: “There maybe only a handful of people who can read between the lines of what an artist is actually trying to say but whether you are a woman or a male artist it’s all been worth it.” Maybe that is why the works of these women artistes are sometimes engaging, sometimes marvellous but always refreshing. 

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IN REVIEW

MUSIC IN THE PARK The Delhi Jazz Festival has audiences strumming and humming

D

elhi’s jazz fantasies met fruition when some of the world’s greatest performers assembled for a musical fiesta, meeting on one common platform. Spread over three balmy evenings, the Delhi Jazz Festival was presented by cultural organisation Seher in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Sprawled in Nehru Park’s lush setting, the audience – some equipped with picnic baskets – enjoyed a rare treat rendered by Cesare Picco from Italy, Be Why from France, Christine Jensen Quintet from Canada, Jump4Joy from Sweden, the Ekkehard Wolk Trio from Germany, Trio AAB + Clandemonium from Scotland and Fractal, Amit Heri Group and D-Company from India. There wasn’t a better way to welcome in the spring. With frequent rounds of applause, the eclectic audience, ranging from toddlers to silver-haired senior citizens lapped up the experimentations and improvisations provided by the musicians. Personal concepts of music and fusion; Cesare’s dexterous piano work; the colourful

compositions of Ekkehard Wölk Trio; the ‘pop’ feel of Jump4Joy and the musical virtuosity of Christine Jensen Quintet and the Indian groups all reached out and touched everyone. Explains Director-General, ICCR, Suresh Goel, “Every major city in the world like Montreal, London, Stockholm and Edinburgh has its own jazz festival which is not just named after the city but almost defines its cultural ethos. Now with this truly international jazz festival we intend to include Delhi in this list making it a city with world class cultural activities.” —Eram Agha

MUSICAL RHAPSODY: (clockwise from left) Cesare Picco from Italy; Be Why from France; Fractal from India and Jump4Joy from Sweden (facing page) Ahwini BhideDeshpande from Mumbai (above); Sher Miandad from Pakistan (below)

BHAKTI UTSAV The annual festival celebrates the diversity of devotional music

W

hat better than the annual Bhakti Utsav holding its eighth edition to give the rush and jostle of New Delhi life a devotional halt. Organised by Seher, in conjunction with Delhi Government, the festival focused only on devotional music bringing together singers from Rajasthan, Pakistan and recognised names of Indian classical music on an aesthetically-pleasing platform – Nehru Park. Though the bhakti cult grew in the post-Vedic period as a reaction to ritualism, the beginning of the first two days of the fest had Rig Vedic chanting by K. M. Vasudevan Namboothiri and N.M. Narayan from Kerala and students of the Panini Kanya Mahavidalya from Varanasi. The almost hypnotic sounds of the chants set the tone of what was to follow – the eclectic music of Sufi singers, of the Manganiyar

minstrels from Rajasthan combined with the vocalists of Indian classical music tradition. In respectful pin-drop silence, the audience listened to Kumar Gandharva’s grandson, Bhuvanesh Komkali, perform on the inaugural day. Komkali’s distinctive style and natural throw had him render perfectly the Marathi abhangs of Sant Tukaram. Vocalist Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande from the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana proved why she is a name to reckon with in bhakti singing. In her element she chose to sing the bhajans in praise of Lord Shiva, her singing wraping the audience in a cloak of devotion. The last day of the fest had Sufiana qawaali by Sher Miandad and his group from Pakistan leaving the audience stirred and spellbound. —Eram Agha

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REMEMBERING

People gathered at Santiniketan, founded by Tagore, now Visva Bharati University. On his birth anniversary students and faculty went around the campus singing his compositions. Santiniketan, West Bengal

Tagore

The world is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. A prolific novelist, poet, painter, playwright and social reformer this towering icon has deeply influenced the cultural ethos of South Asia. The first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, he also gave both India and Bangladesh their national anthems. On the poet’s birthday, May 7, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched a year full of celebrations. On this occasion, a prestigious international award was instituted in Tagore’s name. Delhi

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announced that Tagore’s paintings will be exhibited in Berlin, Paris, Rome, London, New York and possibly Chicago and Seoul, too. The Shillong Tagore Birth Celebration Committee commemorated the event with a Tagore-era food festival, a jazz evening and an unveiling of the Nobel Laureate’s statue Shillong, Meghalaya

Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina jointly launched the year-long celebrations in Dhaka. Events include art exhibtions, seminars, movies, preforming arts, Sanskriti, a special train linking the two countries, Rabi Tirtha, a Tagore tourism circuit with a guided tour of five important sites connected with the poet and a car rally. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Sri Lanka issued a postage stamp with Tagore’s portrait with his name spelt in Sinhala, Tamil and English. Colombo, Sri Lanka

As part of the 150th year celebrations, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil unveiled a bust of Rabindranath Tagore on a busy road in Shanghai to mark the poet's visit to the city 86 years ago. Shanghai, China

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna unveils a special edition of India Perspectives on Tagore. Delhi

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 JUNE 2011

Numerous events have dotted Delhi’s Tagore calendar. An art exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art; activities organised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sahitya Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations ranged from fellowships, art exhibtions to fashion shows depicting the Tagore familiy’s sartorial sensibilities. Delhi

Indians living in Budapest marked the event with an international conference organised by the Department of Indo-European Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Eötvös Collegium and the National Széchényi Library. Budapest, Hungary The Museum of Fine Arts is screening Satyajit Ray’s documentary on Tagore. Houston, USA ICCR and the University of Social Sciences & Humanities signed a MoU for the Tagore Chair of Contemporary Indian Studies. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Public Diplomacy Division has brought out a series of special documentary films on Tagore to foster greater understanding of the Nobel Laureate and his works among overseas audiences.

The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries is sponsoring a series of visual arts and literary events. A Chinese publishing house has undertaken a major project to translate Tagore’s complete works in 28 volumes. Beijing, China

Darlington Estate in Devon, England is holding its own Tagore festival. The weeklong fest features 100 performances and recitals of Tagore’s works by speakers, artists and performers from the US, UK and India. Devon, England

Follow Tagore@150 on Facebook

JUNE 2011  INDIA PERSPECTIVES

45


VERBATIM

TOWARDS DEMOCRATISING

INFORMATION Credited with India’s telecom revolution, Sam Pitroda now heads the National Innovation Council

W

ith his characteristic zeal, Sam Pitroda, the architect of India’s telecom revolution in the latter half of the 1980s, is always involved in visionary projects. In 2004, he headed the Knowledge Commission set up by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh which made far-reaching recommendations to improve the nation’s educational infrastructure. Currently, he is the chairperson of the National Innovation Council that looks to implement a national strategy for inclusive innovation. Speaking to India Perspectives from Chicago, Pitroda talks about the exciting prospect of contributing to India’s emergence as a global power. Is communication vital to India’s growth? Let us first look at the big picture. India’s share of the global economy was 25 percent in 1700 but by 1947 it was only two percent. Our founding fathers had a certain vision of India’s development, and they based it firmly on science and technology and education. That is why, from 1950 onwards, science research institutes, the Indian Institutes of Technologies, a space research organisation and an atomic energy commission were all set up.

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 JUNE 2011

During those years, we witnessed three revolutions. The first was the Green Revolution, which transformed agricultural output and made the country self-sufficient in food grain. The second was the White Revolution, exemplified by the Anand milk cooperatives’ success in increasing and setting up a modernised distribution network. The third was the Telecom Revolution of the 1980s, where telephony spread to vast stretches of the rural hinterland. Then in 1991 came economic liberalisation. After the economic reforms have been ushered in the country has changed dramatically. In the last ten years, India has become a connected country. There are 800 million people with mobile phone connections. This is an extraordinary event which has never happened before in India’s history. What is the next stage in India’s growth revolution? It is now necessary to democratise information, make it accessible to everyone by digitalising village panchayats (councils), ushering in e-governance to improve governance and make it transparent. For this to happen we have to change the way we think and the way we do things. Indians’ thinking habits are rooted in the 19th century; the processes are that of the 20th century and needs are that of the 21st century. We have to change the processes as well as our habits if we have to go forward and that is the agenda of the Innovation Council. With the global recession, do you think India with its vibrant growth rate can move centrestage? India can become a global leader because it has set the right goals for itself. India believes in inclusive growth and its economy is powered by internal demand. We want economic equity as well. It is this process of democratisation that will strengthen India’s economy as well as governance. 

India Perspectives June 2011  

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