Artonomics – Blending Creativity, Technology and Entrepreneurship By Dr. P. Harshabhargavi

A review by C. Rajasekhar : The reviewer is a serving Indian Foreign Service officer, who has inter alia been DG ICCR.


As the Mahatma observed, a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and soul of its people. India is indeed !ncredible for its rich and diverse cultural heritage.  It has flourished in various forms of expression like visual arts – painting, sculpture and crafts etc. and performing arts like music, dance, drama, cinema and literature etc. Indian food and Bollywood have gone global. In earlier times, sustenance and promotion of culture was the concern of the court and the King patronised artists and poets. This had its own dynamics inter alia, glorification of the elite. The consequent neglect and indifference towards the plight of the masses is another story.

In contemporary times, nation states have moved on to become democracies. Consequently, the process of democratisation of culture is a work in progress. Authoritarian states, have continued state patronage of arts and culture. Bolshoi ballet had gone on to be internationally popular, promoted by the USSR to showcase its progress and artistic prowess. In capitalist market economies, the process has gone far. People in these countries were encouraged literally to buy whatever variants and forms of arts and culture they liked. What the masses at large liked had come to be known as Pop (popular) culture, and fast food etc. Purists regret, this has relegated classical, traditional forms.

We, in India preferred the middle path in international cultural relations. We sought to avoid patronage by the government of the day. An autonomous Council, ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) was created to keep matters cultural at arm’s length from political interference. ICCR aims to advance national interests by leveraging the cultural heritage of India. What constitutes Indian culture? It means differently to different ideological hues. This opens room for contestation!

At home, Culture and arts reflect the conduct and evolution of a people. On the global stage, culture and values project another dimension. This has come to be labelled SOFT POWER, distinct from a nation’s hard power represented by its military strength, economic might and scientific prowess, in assessing comprehensive national power. France has excelled in projecting its soft power to command persuasive power. French liberal values – Liberty, Equality and Fraternity informed several newly independent countries around the world.

We need lively, informed discussions to better understand the evolutionary process and development of arts and culture. In this context, comes the book Artonomics by Dr. P. Harshabhargavi. She has seamlessly straddled the worlds of public relations, arts and culture. She has been a keen and well informed observer and practitioner first at provincial and now at the national level.

She focuses on optimising the convergence of creativity, technology and entrepreneurship. She enriches the discourse with her insights on the evolving global marketplace where opportunities galore beyond narrow geographical confines. Digital technology and startups can be a force multiplier. She puts forward innovative ideas to help talented artists and artisans access the market, availing the digital technology revolution. Likewise, she has novel ideas to authenticate original art and to identify the fake art and imitation.

This book comes when the nation is taking off during Azadi ka Amritkal to be vikasit (developed) Bharat. Arts and Culture can mightily contribute in this direction. India is home to numerous traditional arts and crafts. The market for this sector is estimated at ₹40 billion, growing at about 12% per annum. Of course, art is long and contributes variously and all that count can not be counted.

The useful book offers several practical ways and means of not only sustaining and promoting this high growth rate, but to make India a global creative powerhouse in the field. It helps the administrators of culture, artists, entrepreneurs and the layman alike. Hope the young scholar will continue to produce such gems.




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