Culture has been a very integral part of our lives, more so in India, personally and collectively as a society. The Indian creative industries have thrived for thousands of years, and India has quintessentially been a land of knowledge creators, seekers, and preservers. Elaborate texts on various subjects including aesthetics, economy, arts, and culture have been written over the centuries. Even as the ambit of creativity has expanded over the years, the timeless wisdom and the larger meaning behind every form of cultural expression has been continuing through our traditional industries.
Experiences that are fashionable, relevant to the current socio-cultural milieu, and valuable for individual wellbeing are spurring the revival of India’s cultural and creative economy, establishing it as a source of prosperity and growth. Such amalgamation of culture, creativity, and entrepreneurial acumen can open a plethora of opportunities for the youth.
And that is where the Network of Indian Cultural Enterprises (NICE) has stepped in. NICE, incubated by the Center for Soft Power, is an initiative aimed at nurturing cultural and creative entrepreneurship and harnessing the economic potential of Indian culture. It seeks to augment the presence of Indian cultural enterprises – across Indian and the global markets – that are cognizant of consumer choices; enabled by technology-driven innovations, and deeply rooted in India’s heritage and indigenous thought.
NICE is creating a robust ecosystem with the cultural entrepreneurs being central players, assisted by mentors, experts, and investors. As in the case of India’s burgeoning IT industry this ecosystem—promoting India’s creative economy—will also strengthen Brand India globally. NICE envisions building Brand India through its cultural and creative economy, which leverages the commercial potential of indigenous culture, heritage, and knowledge transformed into a product, service, or experience. It spurs innovation, protects and promotes intellectual property, and creates robust markets for the cultural and creative economy to thrive. Further, the trade of cultural and creative goods or services at the global level significantly enhances a country’s brand value, and, in turn, its soft power.
For now, some of the categories that NICE is focused on are health, beauty & wellness, food & beverages, fashion & accessories, home decor & furnishings, and experiential tourism. Through mentoring and training programs, NICE works with entrepreneurs and businesses having market and customer focus.
The Indian diaspora community, the largest in the world and regarded for its high ethical values and enterprising nature, can also play an instrumental role in bolstering the global demand for Indian cultural products and services.
As consumers and distributors of Indian culture, members of the Indian diaspora can contribute to strengthening India’s knowledge economy, including its arts, in their homeland and their host lands. Building a robust transnational network of entrepreneurs, industry experts, cultural enthusiasts and consumers is an essential step towards enhancing India’s cultural footprint in an economic manner.
Indian traditions, underpinned by civilizational wisdom are an invaluable gift to the entire humankind, and when leveraged economically to the maximum potential, it can pave the way for India to emerge as a world leader in the creative economy.
This article originally appeared in the Soft Power (March 2021) edition of The Plus magazine by IGenPlus. Read here.