wiki:Administering the symbols of authentic production by Ashish Rajadhyaksha

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Administering the Symbols of Authenticity Production 149

signalled the continuing practice of ancient traditions; and, finally, the institutions directly managing the privileged role for culture in ideologies of development and the presumed link between traditional craft and advanced technology, in Communication Studies, origin- ating with India’s first investments in radio and satellite communi- cation, television and several other technologies (most recently, Geog- raphic Information Systems) – all reiterating the primarily gestural capacity of the most primitive to engage with the most advanced.

As the high priest of design S. Balaram proposes in his landmark Thinking Design (1998), India’s real industrial revolution ‘occurred only after independence, in the late forties and fifties’; and while this led to several false contradictions, between, for example, applied and machine arts (or charukala and karukala, as they came to be known in Santiniketan), it also enabled the idea of the ‘machine as giver of a new style’ and thus enabled the suturing of artisanal systems of production with the possibilities of recent technology (industrial but, of late, even information technology): a suturing that was the explicitly stated brief of the National Institute of Design and the Industrial Design Centres.

To be relevant, the Indian designer’s approach should be capital- saving and employment-generative. He should draw on our rich traditions as well as apply the latest scientific and technological knowledge/equipment, such as the state-of-the-art computer, for solving basic-level problems such as developing a better sickle or a better hand-pump. His approach to his creations must be that of a dynamic innovator rather than that of an artist. He should design for maximum advantage, with local materials such as mud, grass, cane, bamboo, coir, jute, and with local skills in mind such as manual dexterity and adaptability. (Balaram 1998: 12–16)

In 1961, the opening chapter of the Third Five-Year Plan, entitled ‘Objectives of Planned Development’, put to use an entire range of modern technologies in reharnessing ancient national culture to specific contemporary meaning and purpose 21: ‘Each major culture and civilization has certain distinctive features, rooted in the past, which bear the impress of that culture’, it said. ‘India, with thousands of years of history, bears even now the powerful impress of her own distinctive features. They are today covered up by widespread and appalling poverty, the result of a traditional society and a static economy in the past’, but, and this is the central point, ‘these values