New Delhi: A group of internationally reputed Indian artists participating at NDTV's Solutions Summit today deplored the neglect of art and culture in India, and the lack of state support.
"Artists are not born - they are made. It is not Indianness that defines what we do as artists," commented Indian-born British sculptor Aneesh Kapoor, speaking at the session that talked about harnessing India's art, music and culture as a globally strategic asset.
Mr Kapoor went as far as to say that being labeled on the basis of nationality was a "stigma," pointing out that the nationality of an American or French artist was never talked about as much.
Renowned conductor Zubin Mehta quipped, "Dil hindustan ka (my heart is Indian), unfortunately the music I have done is by Europeans...I can't inject anything Indian in it." (Watch the full discussion here)
He added, "My Indian part doesn't enter my spirituality on stage."
Writer Vikram Seth agreed with Mr Kapoor on what he called "laying your Indian-ness on thick."
He remarked, "There is a danger that you could be seen to overemphasize something for reasons that do not emerge from the inspiration of the art itself."
Everyone shared their concerns about the lack of infrastructure to support art and culture in the country.
"Isn't it a disgrace that there is no concert hall in Delhi?" Zubin Mehta remarked.
Photographic artist Dayanita Singh offered her theory: "Our institutions are run by bureaucrats."
Artist Anjolie Ela Menon, in the audience, remarked that the real minorities in India is the artists' community.
"The government spends 0.5 % of the budget on culture. Culture is really ignored. The greatest gift of republic to us is freedom of expression," Ms Menon said, pointing, however, to MF Husain, who was hounded out of India by fundamental groups and died in 2011 without being able to return.
On a more positive note, Vikram Seth pointed out that classical music would have died in India after 1947, had it not been for the state-owned All India Radio.