I have been in Beijing for the last 3 days, attending and speaking at a conference on the creative industries. Now I will take a day off to go to spend the day at the Beijing Film Academy and the Institute of Fine arts. I really enjoy being in Beijing, and its not just the food ! Its the architecture, its the warmth of their people and the sheer pleasure of interacting with a culture that is as ancient and as mythical as our own.
On the point of culture, China has now decided the next area of economic growth is in the fields of culture and the creative industries. And as China is prone to do, it stops at nothing to implement its plans and all over China new townships are sprouting up dedicated to the development of art, design, animation, film, literature and publishing and encompassing all of what the new media has to offer such as video gaming etc. The thrust is now to extend this idea of creativity into pushing for originality to be created and owned internally in all fields, rather than become the worlds largest outsourcing economy and the supplier of manufacturing goods to the rest fo the world based on patents or technologies bought from the western nations. Thsi is exciting and exactly the vision I have for India. There is a wealth of imagination and creativity that is sitting in both nations waiting to explode and express itself.
I have said this often – that culture defines the way we live, what we consume, how we consume it, and how we interact with the rest of the world and do business. Culture defines and underpins economic growth and any economic growth that does not take into account the culture and mythology of the people will ultimately cause huge contradictions and friction in that society.
I think the collapse of the world financial systems have been a great lesson to all of us on how a culture we all so readily accepted has come collapsing down. It is time for us to understand that we need to flow with our own paths and not so blindly accept Western ways, nor allow ourselves to be judged by Western points of view or goal posts of development. For example – what does gross domestic product really mean ? Does that mean that Tansen singing in Akbar’s court was an unproductive activity if there was no means of actually measuring its value in monetary terms ? We must now redefine how we describe the rise in wealth of our people, their happiness in terms of our culture.
It is also time for the two great cultures to come together now……
We are defined by many common mythologies and philosophies. Buddhism came from India and most Chinese people are quick to point that out with a lot of warmth and respect for India. The Elephant and the Dragon is the phrase they use here, and it is time for us to finally bury our addiction to the West and to form cultural and creative bonds with China. It will be good for us economically too. The creative industries lead to the creation of intellectual property within our nations, so that the next great leaps in technology too in other fields arise from the imagination of our people. The exploration of art and culture has a great knock on effect.
It is what will lead us into the next generation of being truly great leading economies and cultures in world.