Spanish Ministry of Culture Presentation

Globalization has often been described as a process cultural homogenization. It is interesting to observe, however, that the vast majority of cultural content, phenomena, and products consumed by young people do not have a single origin. Nowadays, popular culture as engaged in by Spanish citizens draws from numerous influences coming from a wide variety of places around the world. Among such places we can highlight Asia and more specifically India.

India has a population of 1,200 million and in many ways is very different from our country. However, there are similar aspects. Both countries share a use of different languages, and both incorporate a diversity of cultures that use those languages as a symbol of their identity, of the vitality of their people. As India has entered the XXI century, its characteristics of being the largest democracy in the world, having the second largest population in the world and being one of the world’s most dynamic economies, have enabled it to emerge as a new international power. A power which, although it faces many challenges, also has the potential to grow.

The demographics of India show that it is a country of young people, with the average age of the population being 25. The population continues to grow, and there is an increasingly strong trend of moving to the cities, where a new middle class is struggling to emerge and define itself, maintaining traditional cultural tastes but also admiring external cultural practices, products and influences. Contemporary culture is based on inherited Indian traditions, gastronomy and Bollywood cinema, all of which have erupted with force in European cities generally. Concomitantly, young Indians also show a lively interest in foreign cultures, and are willing to explore cultural ideas and traditions derived from other sources.

Both Indian and Spanish young people currently find themselves at a crossroads between the forces of existing cultural traditions of past generations and the potential of contemporary cultures at an international level.We can choose to remain silent about this transition, or we can initiate a dialogue that will generate synergies and cultural performances which will nurture new artists, designers and professionals from both countries and, of course, benefit our civil societies.

Spanish Ministry of Culture

Casa Asia Introduction

It brings great satisfaction to Casa Asia to be able to present in New Delhi “New Urban Cultures”, after the successful editions held in Tokyo (2009) and Seoul (2010). This new version, that Casa Asia has organized jointly with the Ministry of Culture and along with the collaboration of the Cervantes Institute, aims to facilitate the meeting of disparate trends and protagonists as well as strengthening relationships between prestigious Indian and Spanish creators and artists. It is also a good opportunity to raise awareness in India regarding the gastronomy, fashion, videogames, sports, music, design and films that are being made today in Spain.

Casa Asia is an institution of public diplomacy led and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Generalitat de Catalunya (autonomous government of Catalonia), and the local councils of Barcelona and Madrid. Its mission is to promote the knowledge of Asia in Spain and foster relationships between the civil societies in Spain and the countries of Asia. Since the first steps of this project, it has been our desire to present it in New Delhi, as for years India has been the subject of great interest in the educational, cultural and economic programs of Casa Asia.

Urban culture is an essential element of Indian civilization. The kingdoms, empires and civilizations for more than four thousand years shaped the political and cultural reality of the indicated space, and were always consolidated by the surrounding rich and vibrant cities. The long spiral path of Indian civilization has reaped countless fruits. Philosophical non-conformity, the agitation of ideas and culture and the rebirth of artistic creation, have been translated into texts, architecture, ideas, music and works of art that were once produced locally, on the subcontinent, and are today universal. The India of the twenty first century continues to absorb new urban cultures and to integrate them into the ancient magma of its “old-new” traditions. The result is an Indian version of modernity which, again, heightens the attraction and curiosity of the world.

Art, language and culture are pillars on which rest the traditions and image of Spain and the Spanish in the world. It is not necessary here to go into the strength of the Spanish language and the interest in it that revitalizes its spoken and written vitality. Proof of it is the presence in New Delhi of the Cervantes Institute, in whose very headquarters this event is taking place.

Thanks to the efforts of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Cervantes Institute, the Spanish Embassy in New Delhi and many other collaborators and friends from urban life and its manifestations we have been able to gather together a remarkable representation of Indian and Spanish leading players whose fields of activity we today group together under the name “New Urban Cultures”. I am sure that, in addition to facilitating a better understanding of the ‘other’, and also recognizing the remarkable similarities that dissolve the apparent distances between the cultures, these programmed dialogues, displays and performances will serve to foster collaboration and forge joint projects that benefit the cultural industries of both countries. This is the mission of Casa Asia and the endeavour towards which we work.

Juan José Herrera de la Muela
Casa Asia General director

Cervantes Institute New Delhi Welcome

At the Cervantes Institute in New Delhi we consider it an especially timely initiative, the holding of the third edition of New Urban Cultures in this city, after the successful meetings in Tokyo and Seoul. The opportunities this initiative bring have a threefold dimension for us: the growth of the city of Delhi, greater synergy between Spanish institutions and the strengthening of dialogue between Spain and India.

New Delhi is a city in full swing. With its 16 million inhabitants, its new subway network and its recent infrastructure all built as a result of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, it has become one of the most vibrant cities in India, a country that needs to invent New Urban Cultures for a generation of restless young people who are discovering the city of the 21st century.

The synergy between Spanish institutions in times of crisis is especially welcome. The Cervantes Institute in New Delhi is a fairly new center that has just celebrated its second anniversary, but already has a large number of students, placing our center among the top of those in the Cervantes network. The interest in Spanish and Spanish culture in the city is palpable. In this context the language of Spanish institutions in Delhi and Casa Asia, the Ministry of Culture, MAEC-AECI and the Embassy of Spain in New Delhi is very significant for the development of the institution.

From Frederic Amat up to Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Ritu Kumar, Jivi Sethi, Kike Maíllo, Ivan Lobo and Vishal Gondal, the exchange promises to be interesting. John Carlin is responsible for making Rafa Nadal the best known Spanish person in India, and the videogame and mobile industries will deliver the digital content. Cinema, cuisine, music and dance are to complement these days, celebrated in the fastest growing city in India. Welcome to the “New Urban Culture” of New Delhi.

Óscar Pujol Riembaud
Director of Cervantes Institute New Delhi

Next stop: New Delhi (India)

India is an attack on the senses. As you get off Currently, it is one of the main megalopolis the plane, you feel that something wakes in you. A feeling of heat embraces your body, the most peculiar smells flood in through your nose and an indescribable labyrinth of people and cars shakes your preconceptions and your mind, to warn you: This is India!

Obviously New Delhi does not represent India as a whole. Several lifetimes are required to understand the essence of India’s range of shades, culture and the extent of a country that dreamt of being a continent. But a simple walk around New Delhi will help introduce us to the vibrant life of its streets, its bazaars, its contradictions. A walk helps us notice in snapshots at the beginning of the millennium how the National Capital of the Republic of India cannot escape the transformation process the main cities of the world are forcibly undergoing.

Currently, it is one of the main megalopolis of the world, the seventh most populated city according to some, with over 16 million people sharing 1.500 square kilometres to live, feel and move around in. Above all, to move around in. Thousands of green and yellow rickshaws try to wriggle trough the gaps between cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, carts, etc. It is real turmoil in which people and vehicles enter and exit to reach their destinations. It is like a videogame. It is like a capsule of virtual reality, but without the capsule or the virtual recording. It is as real as life.

Traffic is an excellent metaphor for India’s incessant movement. One of the most important and recent installations that gives the urban touch to New Delhi and that has sped up the development of transport is the subway. In the last five or six years, the city has acquired an extensive Metro network.

Another new factor that attracts considerable attention is the emergence of a new uppermiddle class. Most noticeably in the city centre, in the area around the Connaught Place metro station, one can see many young people dressed in European style clothes in the latest fashions, with their iPhones, the most modern sunglasses on the market, laptops or e-tablets with Internet connections taking advantage of free Wi-Fi in the most trendy cafes, some of them European or American brands. The global brands have arrived and caught on in New Delhi. The chic class of Delhi pamper themselves and go to spectacular areas, such as Piccadelhi, a nod to London’s Piccadilly Circus.

The world is undergoing a process of the creation and expansion of a global image that opens the doors to other countries’ cultural industries and creations in which, areas such as cinema, photography, videogames and digital entertainment for mobile and e-tablets, fashion and design, haute cuisine, sports, music or any other graphic and visual arts that come from countries with renowned artistic pedigree are received with genuine appetite, especially if they are of high quality.

For all of these reasons, and due to the emerging power of India in all senses, New Delhi is the perfect candidate to host the new edition of the Dialogues on “New Urban Cultures”. For two days, high level protagonists from the Indian and Spanish creative and artistic scenes will ponder over the synergies and peculiarities that both countries share in order to conceive a strategy of a global nature, integrating local trends.