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India Showcase unimpressive show at Shanghai World Expo

You’d imagine it would parade its tech and IT muscle in World Expo 2010 at Shanghai China. But the Indian narrative is predominantly centred around street food and handicrafts. An emerging India put an unimpressive showcase at the at the World Expo 2010. On entry, one is confronted by stalls, mainly empty, selling samosas, naan, rotis, lassis and a bunch of boxy booths peddling brassware and other bric-a-brac, the staple of our dull state emporia.

The World Expo is a large-scale, global, non-commercial Expo. Expo aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicize and display their achievements and improve international relationships. This year China owes its successful bid for the World Exposition in 2010 to the international community’s support for and confidence in its reform and opening-up. World Expo 2010 Shanghai China is the first World’s Fair to host an online platform that allows viewers to take a glimpse of all of the pavilions.

In stark contrast was the neighbouring Saudi Arabia pavilion. The Saudis have spent a lavish $150-million (Rs 675 crore) on a tech-savvy pavilion in which a 4D experience is created and visitors taken on a conveyor belt ride. Pakistan has in fact beaten India in footfalls during the early days of the Expo by claiming the Buddhist legacy for itself.

If India wanted to showcase itself as a competitor to China and an economy that will define the 21st century, a country with immense talent, technology and youth, a nation ambitious of attaining double digit growth, it didn’t come through. On the other hand, if the intent was to sell its 5,000-year history, culture, arts, crafts, music and dance, that didn’t find expression either. What is most visible instead is the heavy hand of officialdom, whether in the names of stalls or on the T-shirts of yoga instructors. For example, instead of labeling stalls as ‘Handicrafts’, one read the mouthful ‘Ministry of rural development, Government of India and CAPART, ‘Council for Advancement of Peoples Art and Rural Technology’. Good for Pragati Maidan may be, definitely not Shanghai.

The displays on the first floor were crammed cheek by jowl. The displays — mainly pictures of people ranging from CV Raman to N R Narayana Murthy — were mounted on panels framed by beautiful saris. Visitors assaulted by so much information and clutter walked by without pausing to look.

One got the sense that if the saris used for backdrops had been the exhibits they would have drawn more attention than what was mounted. India Showcase unimpressive show at Shanghai World Expo,Showcasing well neither the past nor the present to the 70 million visitors expected to visit the Expo over six months, India may have lost a golden public relations opportunity.

Source: Times of India

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