The president emerita of Asia Society, Vishakha N Desai feels the missing presence of India at the ongoing Venice Biennale reflects a broader issue of the country's global aspirations and cohesive strategy for their meticulous implementation. Also, a special advisor to the president of Columbia University and to the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation & Museum, her opinions expressed in a just published article in The Indian Express deserve serious consideration as underlined below:
- In the foreign policy circles in the West, one often hears that compared to China, it is unclear how India wants to project its nascent global power status or use it effectively in the dramatically changing world order. When I asked that very question to a senior retired diplomat, he was clear that India didn't have to create such a strategy. As he saw it, the world would eventually realize India's position and give it the kind of respect it deserves.
- One could sense that barely hiding behind that smugness was defensiveness about India's role in the world. India should not have to prove its global power but, instead, the world should recognize it. Ironically, this has meant that one of India's greatest assets, its arts and culture, from Bollywood movies and ever-present Yoga studios to its vibrant contemporary art scene, are not effectively utilized as powerful tools in the global strategy of the country.
- Indian artists are thriving at home and are beginning to make a name for themselves abroad. The prestigious Hauser and Wirth gallery selected Subodh Gupta as their artist of choice for the Venice presentation, and the highly accomplished Dayanita Singh was selected as one of the four artists representing Germany (in the French pavilion).
- A fine young artist, Prabhavathi Meppayil showed up in the main curated show, The Encyclopaedic Palace. Clearly, the artists will continue to find support all over the world on the basis of the strength of their work. But, arguably, the real loser is the country that does not see the potential of art as a powerful vehicle for projecting its vibrant society on the global stage.
- One of the people that posed the question was a professor from London who has initiated a project of examining the social value of the arts in the global arena. "India has vibrant cultural practices and can use it effectively to capture the hearts and minds of the global citizenry." Will the country actually realise this incredible potential to create a unique role in the global arena?