Taj Mahal and Incredible India @ 60

For those that don't know or live in New York City, India hosted city wide festivities called Incredible India! (23-26 September 2007), which were scattered throughout the city. "India
Abroad" (newspaper-yes I feel like one of those uncles, reading it) managed to provide a ton of information.

A prop of the Taj Mahal in Bryant Park - NYC
The Incredible India! @60 events were about showing the world or rather New York City, where India stands in the Global Economy. These events also coincided with the events that were taking place at the United Nations (Annual United Nations General Assembly session that opened September 25), hence the worldly aspect? That's economy for you...

Sudarsan Pattnaik's Sand Taj Mahal at NYC-Port Authority

Pranab Mukhedee, the chief guest, said the choice of New York was deliberate given that the
city represents a microcosm of the world. "Incredible India@6o is a window to the India of today," Mukherjee said, adding that it aims to convey a positive perception of India's values, its colorful traditions, and its diversity – religious, linguistic as well as ethnic. He invited the audience to "enjoy the rediscovery of an Incredible India."(1)

After browsing through publications on the event, I started to notice the portrayal of what the organizers felt India was. I couldn't help but notice the amount of Taj Mahal images, models and even a large sand sculpture version of one at the Port Authority, of all places! The events were to teach others about India, yet the organizers couldn't extract from India's rich culture. The equation is as stereotypical as, TAJ MAHAL=CURRY, or STATUE of LIBERTY=HOT DOG. Couldn't the organizers have tapped into the storm of artists and photographers that are being showcased at international auction houses like Christies? They could have used the photography of Raghu Rai, who has an amazing ability to capture the essence of India, but they chose what seems like Getty stock photography. Hey, India has a great economy and the Taj Mahal, tell us something that the media hasn't been pounding into are psyche already?

It is a very exciting idea to bring India and the United States closer to each other, and the goals India has to make itself better understood in the US and the goals we have to make us better understood in India,' remarked former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the inaugural event at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts September 23. (1)

Dipak Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management, "I said it was time for all Indians to make efforts to branding India. ' If all of us Indians work collectively, we can make for India the right brand that is a manifestation of the people who make it," he said. (1)

Here we have the former U.S. Secretary of State and the Dean of Kellogg School of Management stating the obvious, yet the people incharge of the Art's and Culture couldn't leave the sterotypes behind. Sure the Taj Mahal is amazing, and the Statue of Liberty is Grand, but they don't reflect overall culture or where we come from. If India was trying to show India@ 60, they need to step up to reality and really show India@ 60, not that brochure of what people already know. I wish they could have provided a thoughtful approach to the portrayal of where India is and going. I blame bureaucracy, but that's my small oppinion.

(1) by Monica Joshi - India Abroad oct 5, 2007

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