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Hybrid solution the way forward for hard-hit art and culture industry: Indian envoy

Dinesh Patnaik, director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yongsan-gu on Sept. 1. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Dinesh Patnaik, director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yongsan-gu on Sept. 1. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

A new “phygital” solution -- a hybrid of physical and digital -- is key for the survival of the art and culture industry that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, says Dinesh Patnaik, director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

In an interview with The Korea Herald, Patnaik said future events have to embrace the new hybrid mode.

“Culture communication forum (CCF) was exactly the hybrid mode of physical as well as digital participation, it’s future, the way forward,” Patnaik said.

Patnaik attended the forum held from Aug. 31 to Sep. 1 in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, under the theme, “cultural communication as a way to share core values of the international community.” It was organized by the state-backed Corea Image Communication Institute.

Patnaik says culture and people are inexistent without each other and evolves when people share and exchange views and interact. He pointed to a legend that tells the story of how an Indian princess went to Korea some 2,000 years ago and married a South Korean king, sowing the seeds for cultural exchange between the two countries.

“(An) Indian princess (visited) Korea thousands of years ago and introduction of Buddhism are examples of cultural imprint forged through interaction, however, cultural interactions hindered by COVID-19 triggered economic crisis for performing artists and posed challenges of sustainability,” he said.

For small players and artists, the pandemic has threatened their very survival.

“(The) pandemic caused huge losses to gig artists, freelancers, part-timers and affected supply chains of theater, music and cultural events. With exception to benefits for a few giant players, small performers associated with culture industry who bring innovation were hit hard,” Patnaik said, urging governments to provide artists with the appropriate platforms to ride out the pandemic.

“Artists don’t need charity but they need a platform,” he said.

Streaming platforms such as Netflix or amazon prime are alternatives that opened new opportunities to access diverse and global contents and is where they could play a role, Patnaik suggested.

“International travel is banned, people are afraid, but at least are able to interact, keep our anxiety down and feel assured, there is a human connection without which we won’t not survive, thanks to digital transformation, (it) was not the case during Spanish flu,” Patnaik said.

Patnaik also shared views on overcoming culture conflicts at workplaces.

“Cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect are key to familiarize with the environment of diverse nationalities, culture and social backgrounds. Some societies are collective and some are individualistic, do as romans when you are in Rome -- you would learn from every cultural space,” he said.

He urged people to keep an open mind about different countries and their cultures, and not to use economic development as the only yardstick to judge others.

“Sometimes it may be other way round, economically poor countries may have greater cultural vibrancy than richer country,” he said.

Patnaik said people should also avoid stereotyping, as that had only prompted discrimination, aggression and misunderstandings, unable to foster cultural communication over the years.

Thanks to the advancement of technology and digitalization that has opened the channels for communication, it “changed (the) worldview of people,” and “new generations would be less likely to do stereotyping,” Patnaik said.

With at least 50 percent of the world’s population -- mostly in developing countries -- still unable to access the internet, Patnaik hoped governments would do more to help bridge the digital divide so as to foster cultural communication.


By Sanjay Kumar (sanjaykumar@heraldcorp.com)
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