The essence of luxury is rooted in Indian heritage and culture, and ancient Indian artworks are among the most sought-after luxury product overseas, said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the fourth edition of the Luxury Symposium, organized by the Luxury League. In her inaugural address at the symposium on Friday, Swaraj said that products of India’s traditional arts, including khadi, silk, ayurveda, handicraft, dance and music, when blended with contemporary designs and technology, have always been regarded as luxurious commodities worldwide.

The symposium saw world-renowned creative thinkers, international business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and government officials sharing the stage.

“Our treasure is luxury. Our contemporary designers have perfectly added latest designs and technology to make our ancient art salable across the globe. This has popularised Indian art across the world which also depicts the soft power of the country,” the minister said.

Swaraj lauded the efforts of young designers that resulted in the popularisation of India-specific things as a fashion statement globally. She said the term “luxury” no longer meant only big brands, but Indian products, like khadi, had become synonymous with luxury in many Western countries. “It is the creativity of contemporary designers that pashmina shawls of Jammu and Kashmir and the pottery of Moradabad have become synonymous to luxury,” she added.

Swaraj, who is known for her simple lifestyle, noted that “luxury” was the most misunderstood and misused term. She, however, maintained that luxury was not just about big brands and expensive lifestyle. “I always thought that luxury was something against austerity. However, my notion changed on seeing the modification of centuries-old Indian art as per the taste of the present generation,” she said. Swaraj shared her personal experiences as to how India-specific things, like bindi and saris, had become a fashion statement abroad. She said that the spread of Indian ethnic clothes, jewellery and other cultural artifacts to the rest of the world has also been a means of opening cultural channels between India and other countries.

The minister stressed that the diversity of art and culture, food and fabric in different Indian states, particularly in the Northeast region, remains the biggest treasure for India. She admitted that there were concerns that an excessive use of technology might prove fatal for ancient Indian arts. However, she assured that new ways would be explored to keep these art forms alive. “We can’t stop new technology from coming in. We cannot put our future in the dark, but we will find ways to keep our art alive.”

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