Udaipur - Jan 31, 2015: Eminent Japanese delegation arrives to deepen Kyoto/Udaipur ties and co-develop new creative economy models.
Kyoto - Feb 13, 2015: Returned team starts to establish a Kyoto/Udaipur "0 to K"* Creative Econ Exchange Office at Doshisha to support bilateral R&D projects and formalize cooperative endeavors
Team arriving: (l to r) former UNEP/UNESCO program officer Ryuichi Fukuhara;
Doshisha's Center for Creative Economies founder, Dr. Tadashi Yagi,
Kyoto University's Contemporary India Studies network founder/director, Dr. Akio Tanabe
Organized in Udaipur by Big Medicine Charitable Trust and in Japan by Kyoto International Ambassador Stomu Yamash'ta and the St. Core Research Group in Doshisha's Creative Economies Study Center, this visit had three broad goals.
After an inspiring week of meetings with leading Udaipur universities, artists, activists and social entrepreneurs, the enthused Kyoto team returned home to set up a Kyoto/Udaipur "0 to K"* Exchange Office at Doshisha University to research & co-develop Creative Economics projects and formalize cooperative endeavors.
BMCT's lead project coordinator, Kathy Arlyn Sokol observed, "Besides priceless help from Sukhadia & SInghania Universities, IIMU, the Vice Mayor, and Udaipur Hotel Association's Sri Vishwa Vijay Singh, so many wonderful Udaipurites from the villages, the arts, academia and civil society contributed to this effort, we are overwhelmed with gratitude. Doshisha's new Kyoto/Udaipur Creative Econ R&D Office stands today as a direct tribute to all their imaginative work and enthusiastic cooperation,"
Highlights of Visit & Briefings
(click on pics for enlarged image)
Arrival and initial orientation @ Big Medicine Charitable Trust and Monsoon Palace
After nearly 30 hours of travel, the Kyoto team reaches Udaipur and is whisked to the mountaintop Monsoon Palace overlooking the whole city. There local cultural history maven, Sri Ajay Acharia, and Rajput hospitality legend, Sri Ajay Singh Bohera, introduced them to the noble history, dramatic heritage riches and ecological blessings of this ancient oasis town.
Briefing 1 on Creative Econ in the Udaipur countryside @ Big Medicine Charitable Trust
Sunday, Feb 1, 9:30 - 12:30 : Briefing #1: Creative Economy-style projects in the Udaipur countryside
– innovative communication systems, craft marketing models, organic agriculture projects, etc.
After formal greetings and initial introductions, each of five local groups gave presentations on the rural situations they were dealing with and the progress of their work.
The Japanese team took detailed notes on these presentations and told the group that their innovative solutions offered valuable clues for similar problems currently plaguing farmers, craftspeople and folk medicine users in the rapidly greying villages around Kyoto as well.
Briefing 2 on Contemporary & Traditional Art Economies in Udaipur area @ Bougainvillaea Art Gallery
To understand the vicissitudes of Udaipur's huge community of traditional and contemporary artists, the Kyoto delegation met with celebrated local artists & art activists, Dr. Shail Choyal, Dr, Shahid Parvez, and Sri Bhupesh & Tanuja Kavaria. Dr. Choyal explained the artistic themes, history and tourist market that gave several thousand traditional artists substance livelihoods, but little opportunity for personal recognition, innovative inspiration or creative growth. Dr. Parvez explained the thematic, economic and status differences between university educated artists and apprenticeship trained artists arising from the ancient cultural traditions; and described his and Dr. Choyal's rural "art camp" approach that tries to cross-fertilize the best virues of both of these highly talented communities. Bougainvillaea owner/designer & international workshop organizer, Bhupesh Kavaria described the creative effects he has seen by globalizing these art collaborations and how they have helped broaden Udaipurites' aesthetic awareness as well as local artists' design horizons and economic opportunities.
After warmly thanking their hosts and explaining their Creative Economies program intentions, the Japanese team expressed their delight at Udaipur's rich diversity of artistry both surviving and newly arising, and shared their hopes that this extraordinay talent pool could nurture a whole new era of aesthetic vitality, shared prosperity and creative design.
Briefing/Discussion 3 on Project Goals and Collaborative Possibilities @ Sir Padampat Singhania University
The first formal academic briefing was offered by the executives, VC and activist scholars of Sir Padampat Singhania University, Udaipur's most creative private institution for engineering science and management training. President Ashok Ghosh offered lessons he had learned from 10 years as a European Union Economiic Advisor regarding the critical importance of an environmentally aware, incessantly innovative and community-reponsive entrepreneurial culture. Singhania's consequently made environmental science courses compulsory for graduation and pioneered the first entrepreneurship incubation cell in Udaipur. Vice President Rinu Ghosh took the inspirational aspect one big step further and instituted an incredibly imaginative (and compulsory!) Project Endeavor program that involves the entire student body in self-generated small-team projects that mobilize student talents to creatively address real world problems in their fields, the school or the surrounding communities..
The other activists academics present offered their areas of expertise and their full support for Kyoto's Creative Economies goals. They also suggested an intriguing list of cooperative project opportunities that would enrich their students, the Udaipur region and Indo-Japanese exchange activities.
Briefing/Discussion 4 on Project Goals and Collaborative Possibilities @ Mohanlal Sukhadia University
The second academic conclave of the day was kindly organized by Sukhadia University Vice Chancellor I.V. Trivedi who convened the heads of relevant faculties to discuss promising research & exchange areas for the Udaipur/Kyoto relationship. Dr. Yagi introduced the goals of the Creative Economies project, the philosophic, spiritual and cultural significance of its "0 to K" theme and the Creative Economies book series the group has contracted with Springer Publishing starting this year. He invited suggestion and contributions from Sukhadia's distinguished scholars and opened the floor to their presentations re their research arenas and its relevance for the Udaipur/Kyoto project goals.
Humanities Dean & Econ Dept head, Dr. Farida Shah outlined her department's work on tribal development economics and insights arising from their studies of the local indigenous tribes' cultures, native arts and traditions of ecological care. There were definite "back to the future" implications from many of their findings since native cultures offered such clear examples of spiritual richness, aesthetic diversity, communal solidarity, and long-term sustainability.
Dr. Pradeep Trikha, editor/publisher of Sukhadia's Objet d'Art journal, offered his insights into local art economics and the amazing scope he saw for egalitarian development paradigms based on innovative leveraging of the region's aesthetic wealth.
Public Administration head, Dr. Surendra Kataria's discipline offered important clues on crystalling new and fairer societal models and could suggest viable local administrative processes and mechanisms for turning Creative Economic research results and prototypes into implementable policies on the ground.
Finally Sanskrit Dept head, Dr. Neeraj Sharma delighted the gathering with examples and recitations of modern Creative Economic values from Vedic classics that were centuries and even millennia old. He vividly demonstrated that the social and ecological sanity Creative Economy theory was trying to codify and popularize, was indeed sacred commonsense in Indian culture almost from the start. Since its fall from grace and public awareness was largely due to invasions, colonialism and alien economic & education paradigms, he said its contemporary rediscovery could not only legitimate and aid our local project objectives, it could also help revive a huge body of ancient learning and wisdom of great benefit to the nation and the world as a whole.
Briefing/Discussion 5 on Project Goals and Collaborative Possibilities @ Indian Institute of Management-Udaipur
The last adademic introduction of the day was hosted by Indian Institute of Management-Udaipur director Dr. Janat Shah, his multipotent student manager/mentor/guide Dr. Joel Xavier, and new campus architect/designer, Dr. Akshya Singhvi. IIMU is the latest addition to India's preeminent IIM network which draws upon the top 2% of the nation's academic talent and whose graduates have led India's most dramatic modernization efforts in almost every commercial, development and public policy field. Besides its state-of-the-art class, research & student facilities, IIMU also offers incredibly innovative programs both for its students and the wider community. For example, its Management Development Program for Women Entrepreneurs; its Summer School Programme for Future Leaders in Development and its Media/Industry Interaction Cell's annual Leadership Summits offer unique to new approaches to spreading skills, resources and expertise directly into the countryside and body politic.
Director Shah immediately understood and welcomed the Kyoto team's Creative Economy objectives & premises and said they also informed many of IIMU's current initiatives and envisioned goals. He offered full IIMU support for interacademic collaboration and noted the creativity & curiousity of his remarkable student body could also play an important CE development role.
In fact, meaningful interaction began almost immediately with Dr. Xavier volunteering to attend the next day's Entrepreneurship Development briefing to present IIMU's own approach and experience; and water management expert Fukuhara being enlisted to visit IIMU's new 300-acre site and suggest how to make the whole campus 100% "water-neutral" in the next few years.
Evening Folk Culture Orientation @ West Zone Culture Centre
After a long day of cerebral excitement and exertion, the team welcomed a kind invitation from West Zone Culture Centre director Furqan Khan to witness the region's more sensuous glories at a gala evening folk artist performance at WZCC headquarters in Bagore-ki-Haveli. WZCC organizes the 10-day Shilpgram Utsav, India's premier folk arts festival that attracts over 500 folk artists & craft masters as well as 300,000 visitors to its venue each year. BMCT has worked with WZCC for many years organizing festival Zero Waste programs and introducing Japanese and Nepali virtuosos as the first foreign artists ever to perform in the Utsav's 25-year history. WZCC's dynamic programs have brought new life and respect to scores of struggling or endangered folk art communities; and Director Khan has generously offered his expert staff, artist directory and superb facilities as resources for Udaipur/Kyoto artist exchanges and Creative Economic project development.
Briefing 6 on Local Resources & Models for Entrepreneurial Development @ Udai Kothi Hotel
Discussing local artistic/cultural/agricultural entrepreneurial efforts & ways to improve/extend them
This session was designed to acquaint the Kyoto team with a few of the most creative developments in entrepreneurial incubation in the region. Drs. Xavier & Singhvi from IIMU led off with detailed description of their school's extraordinary programs to nurture entrepreneurship and rural development competence in their students and surrounding community. IIMU not only offers entrepreneurial-minded grads Rs.20,000/mo survival funds for two years while they try to build their businesses; the institute will also refund all a grad's tuition money if he/she chooses to do social entrepreneurial work in an NGO for three years. However, since IIMU students are all post-grad level, only 4 out of a hundred took the entrepreneurial leap last year.
Dr. Krishna Kant Dave who just joined the Geetanjali Institute of Technology as head of their Management College described the big corporate-focused undergrad training at most business and management schools that discourages entrepreneurial aspirations and the salutory incubation efforts he hopes to introduce to his undergraduates to inspire more courage and creativity.
Dr. GP Saxena riveted the group's attention with descriptions of pioneering projects launched during the last 20 years of his tenure at the Udaipur Forest Department. Not only did he help found the Rajasthan Medicinal Plant Board to intelligently assess, exploit and protect the region's rich natural pharmacopia, he was able to get hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest lands here recognied as certified organic production zones. Related grassroots projects annually generate hundreds of tons of organic ginger for local & global tea makers; and equivalent shipments of organic aloe vera health & cosmetic products as well as custard apple seeds to produce safe organic pesticides. His office and family also helped the forest tribes to develop processing, quality control and fulfilment skills that greatly enriched their local economies as well as their motivation to protect the health of their surrounding forests.
Finally 30-yr West Zone Culture Centre program innovator Vilas Janvet explained the extraordinary folk art heritage of the region and how WZCC was able to publicize and promote those riches with imaginative festivals like the Shilpgram Utsav that brings presents over 500 craft masters & performance artists and now annually attracts several hundred thousand visitors. He pointed out as Saxena did, the enormous difference more creative approaches to rural development could make in thousands of villages and lives.
All agreed that combining currently emerging socially minded entrepreneurial skills with the region's lush cultural and ecological resources could not only renew rural community health, traditions and livelihoods, it could generate more hope and opportunities for village youth.
Udaipur Reps: Dr. KK Dave, Geetanjali Institute of Technology, Dr. GP Saxena, IFS (rtrd) & Raj. Medicinal Plant Board; Dr. Krishna Kant Dave, Geetanjali Institute of Technology; Dr. Joel Xavier, IIMU; Akshya Singhvi, IIMU; Sri Vilas Janve, WZCC (rtrd) & Martand Foundation
Briefing/Discussion 7 on Udaipur Ecology, Heritage and Livelihood Creation on Udai Kothi's Pichola Cruiser
Sample lake views from the boat and opening dedication prayers by Udaipur Vice Mayor & Brahmin Pandit, Sri Lokesh Dwivedi
An eco-heritage introductory lake tour with eminent local ecologists, historians, tourism officers, etc
The last formal session of the visit was a spectacularly framed discussion cruise around Lake Pichola and Udaipur's exquisite heritage & ecological riches, which considered how they could and were being creatively leveraged to improve local livelihoods and wellbeing on the ground.
The session began and ended with ancient consecration rituals performed by Udaipur Deputy Mayor Pandit Lokesh Dwivedi who offered moving chants of gratitude for the beautiful gifts of Creation and Nature's bounty.
Cultural guide corps doyen Arun Acharya walked the group through the dramatic history that had generated the heritage wonders surrounding the horizon here; and the rich cultural traditions of respect that could be drawn upon to defend them against heedless development and/or neglect.
Dr. O.P. Sharma of the Forest Department described the ecological wealth remaining in the countryside and how his department was continuing fo catalyze and co-create new forest produce models that both protected local ecosystems and improved village livelihoods. He demonstrated the increasing sophistication of rural product development, packaging and marketing; and the parallel improvements in surrounding forest health. Their organic programs for aloe vera, custard apple, ginger and a dozen other medicinal plants continue to grow and prosper; and offer convincing models for other regions across the state.
Rajputana Society of Natural History founder Dr. Satya Prakash Mehra offered his own group's unique projects for tethering community and environmental health into win-win symbiotic relationships. In one Bharatpur water management project, they had mobilized villagers to restore traditional wetlands with ponds, catch dams and rainwater harvesting, which in turn brought back endangered local reed species that had traditionally been used for local crafts and basketry. Since the exhausted local wells were also now recharged, viillage women did not have to spend hours daily fetching water and had time to revive their reed weaving skills. With a little creative design and marketing assistance, their diversified craft work was soon dramatically enhancing both women's incomes and social status in scores of northern villages as well as their fervor to protect the wetlands where their precious reeds grow. Another Mt. Abu project generated a new ornithological guide industry around some of the area's beautiful but endangered bird species that fostered a community-wide effort to restore and protect their natural habitat.
Local eco-engineer, Sri K.P. Singh described his own endeavors working with local water-starved villages to revive their own ancient water harvesting traditions that had fallen into disuse with the government's introduction of "modern" (and pretty dysfunctional) western style water management techniques. A number of villages then managed to regenerate their ancestral pond, tank and check dam systems recharging thousands of surrounding wells and all without external subsidies or"expertise". He also recounted recent experiments with vermiculture promotion, inexpensive renewable energy options, and non-monoculture bio-fuel production that offered real promise for increased and sustainable rural prosperity.
Finally, Mahindra Prakash Hotel owner & Hotel Association tourist promotion activist, Sri Ajay Singh Bohera described the faltering state of a local hospitality community suffering from overbuilding, urban congestion and global economic conditions, not to mention bad international news re women's safety in India. He observed that revival of the locally all-important tourist economy will require far more creative efforts to spotlight and support the region's still incredibly diverse artistic traditions and virtuosity.
Udaipur Reps: Deputy Mayor Lokesh Dwivedi, Forest Service officer, Dr. OP Sharma, cultural historian, Sri Arun Acharya, Rajputana Society of Natural History founder, Dr. SP Mehra, eco-engineer Sri KP Singh, Udaipur Hotel Association elder Sri Ajay Singh Bohera, and resident theatrical director Jarka Heller.
Final messages from Kyoto team:
Professor Tadashi Yagi:, “Visiting Udaipur has been an impressive and unforgettable experience. We hope to jointly develop new Kyoto/Udaipur exchanges and economic models based on humanity, diversity and spirituality. Our ‘0 to Kei’ program motto celebrates both India’s and Japan’s rich philosophic and cultural heritages, and the prosperous diversity that can arise from creative virtuosity. We truly believe this is the time to explore that potential in both our cities.”
Professor Akio Tanabe: “Our trip was truly inspirational. We were deeply touched by Udaipur’s beautiful heritage treasures as well as the kindness and creative diversity of her people. We hope to help catalyze inventive new Kyoto/Udaipur exchange programs that draw on both our cities’ unique strengths and benefit all of our people.”
Former UNEP wetlands program officer Ryuichi Fukuhara: “Mewar’s rediscovery of its indigenous peoples’ environmental, medicinal and water management skills is both exciting and propitious for Udaipur’s future ecological health and shared prosperity. We look forward to projects that learn from such wise traditions and strengthen them with scientific know-how.”
Resulting Kyoto/Udaipur Creative Econ Development Proposals
Primary goals: develop bilateral centers, programs and exchanges to generate ongoing Indo-Japanese Creative Economic collaboration and innovative endeavors such as the following initially suggested projects.
Mastery Exchange Project
Purpose: institute intercultural skill sharing exchanges among recognized masters in diverse arts, crafts and traditional professions; use their talents to inspire & educate young aspirants in their various fields; and exploit their creative talents to initiate imaginative co-creations and enliven the media appeal & tourist attraction of their respective environments.
Method: invite recognized masters in the fields of art, music, craft, healing, media, appropriate tech, agriculture, etc. for one- to three-month artist residencies to collaborate & co-create with local counterparts in their fields and share their skills with local aspirants via audio-visual documentation and educational workshops.
Initial Organizers & Partners: BMCT, Udaipur Hotel Association, West Zone Culture Centre, Doshisha's Kyoto/Udaipur Creative Economies Office...
Social/Cultural Resource Identification Project
Purpose: locate information on and compile accessible listings of local social, cultural, academic and technical assets & resources for creative economic development.
Method: invite students, citizens and NGOs to help identify and locate Udaipur & Kyoto's diversity of social and cultural resources (e.g., artists, artisans, musicians, art/music schools, craft centers, SHGs [self-help groups], healing centers, recording studios, media schools/labs, etc.)
Initial Possible Partners: SInghania University's Project Endeavor students, IIMU's extensive club network, Shikshantar Andolan...
Smart Heritage City Development Project
Purpose: improve communication capacities within and about the city, especially regarding its history, intangible cultural assets & eco-friendly resources.
Method: exploit local IT talent, current smart phone tech and GPS services to create low cost apps that could help citizens/tourists discover important heritage sites & understand their significance; find unique art/craft/music centres; locate organic food & product outlets; etc.
Indian Creative Economies Book Project
Purpose: Contribute to Dr. Yagi’s contracted Springer Publishing book series on Creative Economic theory & practices with inspiring current and historic examples from this region's artistic and socio-economic ecosystems.
Method: Invite scholarly and research contributions from partnering Udaipur universities and engaged academics.
Initial Possible Partners: Sukhadia University's Humanities Division, Singhania University, IIMU
Eco-entrepreneurial “Green Soap” Project
Purpose: Develop effective low-cost non-polluting soaps to encourage local job creation & entrepreneurial opportunities; protect local water quality, public health & scenic aspects of tourism environment (lakeside dhobis, bathers, etc)
Method: Engage partner university faculty and students in developing non-polluting soap recipes as well as helping entrepreneurially minded citizens to manufacture, popularize and market it.
Initial Possible Partners: Singhania University's Chemistry Dept & Project Endeavor students, IIMU's Entreprenuerial Club, Udaipur office of NLCP (National Lake Conservation Program)
Inter-university Research & Exchange Project
Purpose: Help catalyze a variety of Kyoto/Udaipur university interactions focused on science, culture, economic innovation & sustainable development.
Method: Initiate joint research agendas and exchange programs on common areas of interest & expertise between partnering schools in Udaipur and Kyoto.
Session I @ Monsoon Palace – 5:30-6:30 PM, Sat, Jan 31 – Orientation-intensive:
Showing Udaipur’s physical layout and describing its remarkable history
Udaipur Reps: Sri Arun Acharia & Sri Ajay Singh Bohera
Session 2 @ BMCT – 9:30-11:30 AM, Sun, Feb 1 – Orientation/research-intensive:
Creative Economy-style projects in the local countryside – innovative communication systems, craft marketing models, organic agriculture projects, etc.
Udaipur Reps: founder-members: Lokesh & Eklingnath Paliwal, Merijanmbhumi.com; Vinay Jain & Sukriti Bhanawat, lokalart.com; Raj Kishore Deshwal & Pankaj Paliwal, Jagran Jan Vikas Samithi; Rohit Jain, Banyan Roots Organics; Pannalal Patel, Udyogini's Organic Jaisamand project
Session 3 @ Bougainvillea Art Gallery – 2:00-3:30 PM, Feb 1 – Orientation/research
Introducing Udaipur’s current contemporary art scene, its economics & innovative education models
Udaipur Reps: Dr. Shail Choyal, Prof. Shahid Parvez, Sri Bhupesh Kavalia (all artists, educators & social entrepreneurs)
Session 4 @ Dhaddha Farm – 5:00-8:00 PM, Sun, Feb 1st – Orientation-intensive:
Welcoming reception with 40~50 leading citizens to introduce some of the most creative minds in Udaipur
With special gratitude to Sri Sunil Dhaddha & family, Sri Divesh Choubisa & Sri Laxmi Kant Vyas
Session 5 @ Singhania University – 10:00 to 1:00 PM, Feb 2 – Research/brainstorm-intensive:
Introducton to leading tech & management scholars willing to collaborate on CE R&D and exchange projects
Udaipur Reps: Singhania president Ashok Ghosh, VP Rinu Ghosh, VC Pradeep Deka, entrepreneurial cell leaders Drs Ghanshyam Purohit & Sumangla Rathore, et al
Session 6 @ Sukhadia University – 2:00-4:30 PM, Mon, Feb 2 – Research/brainstorm -intensive:
Intro to local scholars more deeply versed in humanities (Sanskrit, art history, ecology, anthropology, etc)
Udaipur Reps: Sukhadia VC Trivedi; Humanities Dean Farida Shah, head of Economics Dept, Dr. SK Kataria from Public Administration; Dr. Neeraj Sharma, head Sanskrit Dept; and Prof Trikha, founder/editor of Sukhadia's art economics & culture journal, "Objet d'Art"
Session 7 @ Indian Institute of Management - Udaipur – 4:30-6:30 PM, Mon, Feb 2 – Research–intensive:
Introducing new management & social entrepreneurship development models
Udaipur Reps: IIMU Director, Dr. Janat Shah, student affairs director Dr. Joel Xavier, campus architect/designer Dr. Akshya entrepreneurial club leader, Aditya Rajadhyax
Session 8 @ Udai Kothi Hotel – 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, Tues, Feb 3 – Research/brainstorm–intensive:
Discussing local artistic/cultural/agricultural entrepreneurial efforts & ways to improve/extend them
Udaipur Reps: Dr. KK Dave, Geetanjali Institute of Technology, Dr. GP Saxena, IFS (rtrd) & Raj. Medicinal Plant Board; Dr. Joel Xavier, IIMU; Akshya Singhvi, IIMU; Sri Vilas Janve, WZCC (rtrd) & Martand Foundation, Manish Jain, Swaraj University founder,
Session 9 @ Udai Kothi cruise yacht – 3:30 PM-6:00 PM, Tues, Feb 3 – Orientation/research–intensive:
An eco-heritage introductory lake tour with eminent local ecologists, historians, tourism officers, etc
Udaipur Reps: Deputy Mayor Lokesh Dwivedi, RTD – Smt Sumita Saroch, Forest Service – Dr. OP Sharma, cultural historian, Sri Arun Acharya, Rajputana Society of Natural History – Dr. SP Mehra, eco-engineer Sri KP Singh, Udaipur Hotel Association – Sri Ajay Singh Bohera, and resident theatrical director Jarka Heller.
The delegation will also pay respects to other relevant Udaipur officials and civic leaders.
* "0 to K" symbolizes ancient Indo-Japanese philosophic insights & cultural continuity and the modern economic, social and spiritual promise of creative diversity.