JLF producer bats for a creative industry, calls for infrastructure

Sanjoy K Roy, the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts says that the creative industry is seeing an unprecedented growth worldwide
Roy is also the founder trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT)
Roy is also the founder trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT)

The creative industry is seeing an unprecedented growth worldwide, Sanjoy K Roy, producer of the popular Jaipur Literature Festival, highlighted at a lecture here, but lamented that its potential is still untapped in India.

He noted that the creative industry is the second largest contributor to the United Kingdom's economy after banking, contributing about 18 per cent of the country's GDP. Similarly in France, he pointed out, it is again at number two after its defence industry.

"We have no idea what it is in India because we have no basis of understanding or finding what the details are," said Roy, an entrepreneur in the arts sector and the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 25 highly acclaimed festivals across 40 cities.

"The importance of the arts is somewhat restricted in today's world, people don't look at it as important. In India, the submission is that about 400 million people in India today either get their primary or secondary income from the creative industries.

"Everything from the ragi in the gurdwara to the pandal maker to the guy who makes the Ganesh statues or the Durga statues to the weavers to the rural and semi-urban population who, between the agricultural seasons, are involved in some kind of additional creative activity which they use to be able to earn and create some kind of economy which is local to their place. And this is important for us to understand because 70-71 years after independence, there is not one ministry in the government of India which has any basic facts whatsoever which will tell you how many people are involved in this industry," he lamented.

Roy was delivering a lecture on "Creative Industries - Smart Power - The World Ahead", organised by India Habitat Centre and Society for Policy Studies (SPS), as a part of their "Changing Asia Series" on Tuesday evening.

The recipient of the National Award for Excellence and Best Director for the film "Shahjahanabad: The Twilight Years" expressed hope that the Ministry of Culture has put into place a committee which is now looking at "culturally mapping the entire country".

"... hopefully some of the information will be used for productive purposes and we will have access to this information so that we are able to understand what the contribution thereof is," he quipped.

He highlighted that the creative industry can boost the country's economy but was soon to point out that the "infrastructure" it requires is still lacking in India.

"Today when we are talking about creating jobs, generating local economies and so on and so forth, where is it happening? It is happening through the creative industries.

"We have to remember that as the third industrial revolution dies behind us, and especially in countries like India will never be able to compete as a manufacturing base like China, what is our future? The future is the knowledge enterprise. That is where we can excel, we can create jobs, can drive local economies, can contribute to local GDP, and yet we seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that this is even a possibility," he noted.

Roy said that Indian entrepreneurs in the culture domain should focus on telling "your own stories which is not derivative of a different culture but is reflective of your own culture". That, he maintained, is the first step to creating an incredible knowledge base.

He further observed that the arts in education sector has been looked down upon for far too long and called for a fresh look at the domain. He said that India's cultural heritage is its "unique selling point" and recounted from his personal experience of hosting several festivals abroad that there is a great thirst among international audiences to know more about India and its diverse cultures.

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