Culture

Taj hosts inaugural luxury symposium in Delhi

DELHI: Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, in partnership with The Luxury League, hosted the inaugural Luxury Symposium at the Taj Palace, Delhi on 7 April.

Rakesh Sarna, MD and CEO, Taj Hotels, Palaces addressing the audience in the inaugural session; Seated from left to right are Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary DIPP; Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce & Industry; Ritu Beri, Founder, The Luxury League and Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France, India

The forum discussed how India’s incredible legacy of history, tradition and craftsmanship can be reimagined to brand it as a global producer of luxury products and services.

The line-up of panels featured speakers and moderators of the highest calibre – public intellectuals, pioneers of business excellence, key members of the Indian parliament and bureaucracy, and distinguished media people.

Decision makers and innovators such as the CEO of NITI-Ayog Amitabh Kant, Gaj Singh of the former ruling house of Jodhpur, historian and textile revivalist Jasleen Dhamija, James Collard editor-in-chief Robb Report UK, veteran journalist Victoria Mather and Facebook’s country head Umang Bedi spearheaded sessions on their domain expertise.

Today, India’s finest artisans are dependent on MGNREGA wages. Thus, the luxury industry must identify from across India people of high calibre, and the transformational agent to bring them to the market: NIrmala Sitharaman

The Luxury Symposium 2017 team also had a private audience with the President, Pranab Mukherjee on 6th April to share the vision and the agenda for this symposium, as well as seek advice and support from the government in the endeavour to brand Indian luxury globally.

The inaugural session identified the synergies between India’s booming luxury sector, and the government’s ambitious Make in India program. Panelists addressed how the sector could leverage India’s pioneering centuries-old legacy of craftsmanship and art, in finding new markets and thereby generating opportunities for India’s contemporary artisans.

The sessions also addressed the intersection between social media, virtual reality, and leveraging these capabilities to generate and sustain demand. Panelists from sectors as diverse as luxury wellness, banking, and holistic healthcare addressed the opportunities and challenges in appealing to millennials, an increasingly significant, and highly exposed consumer base.

Thanking the Make in India Week in Mumbai which made the Luxury sector’s relationship with Make in India possible, Ritu Beri, Founder, Luxury League, sought the support of stakeholders: “My desire is to strengthen the voice of India abroad and to open Indian doors to the world by showcasing our artistic talent through creative interactions and dynamic networking. The objective of the foundation is to brand Indian luxury globally, and to create an increased pool of knowledge and competence.”

The event also featured insights from media, hospitality, and the Indian Ministry of Tourism on the need to create luxurious, exciting, and memorable opportunities for discerning clientele.

Defining luxury, Rakesh Sarna, Managing Director & CEO Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris spoke about social transformation: “India is fast becoming one of the world’s fastest growth engines. By 2025, we are expected to have 6 global megacities, producing high quality luxury goods and services, and great talent. We have the potential to assume a leadership presence in the global economy. While we aspire to become the luxury capital of the world, we must also aspire for the prosperity of our people and address the rising economic inequity. Luxury doesn’t refer to ‘brands’ – it is the richness of society. We therefore must work together towards India’s literacy and skill, which can create self-esteem, to power India’s growth potential. Only then will have achieved the epitome of luxury as mankind should know it.”

Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce and Industry said: “Luxury can easily fit into the Make in India vision, due to the sector’s phenomenal growth. This is therefore a significant segment, which must take its due place in Make in India. India finds prominent mention among the five BRICS countries contributing to this industry, due to its high growth rate – we are anticipated to see a 7.6% GDP in 2018. It is India’s aspirational class demand which is fuelling this growth.”

Citing India’s legacy of talented craftsmanship, she added: “It was India’s royalty who were great patrons of artisans excelling in the finest work of that era. Today, India’s finest artisans are dependent on MGNREGA wages. Thus, the luxury industry must identify from across India people of high calibre, and the transformational agent to bring them to the market. India’s luxury market is capable of branding, marketing, and promoting their work. We must Make in India, and ensure our talent finds a global market.

Sessions also addressed the heritage of Indian traditional textiles and craftsmanship as a foundation to grow India’s luxury profile worldwide, in addition to the reinvention of regal and ancient India to create truly unique luxury experiences.

The Luxury Symposium 2017 is supported by the Government of India’s Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism, Khadi India and the Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises. France has lent its support as Country Partner.

Musafir Namah Bureau

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