Former student of century old Arts College, Lucknow, Shitanshu G Maurya (33), has returned to the city after completing the ‘Artist In-Residence’ programme at Rashtrapati Bhavan, held from March 12 to 26. The first from Lucknow to have made it to the programme, Shitanshu was clearly overjoyed and overwhelmed with the experience.
Speaking about the time he spent in the serene environs of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Lucknow-based artist, Shitanshu said that the experience was wonderful. “I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the company of other creative people that included writers and innovators,” he shared.
The ‘In-Residence’ programme welcomes creative individuals like writers, artists and innovation scholars to stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan and get a chance to be a part of the life there.
“I found President Pranab Mukherjee to be a very simple and down-to-earth person. I was impressed when he described the Rashtrapati Bhavan as a house of the people of India, while addressing a group of guests. His plain speaking really won my heart,” said Shitanshu.
He added, “The president said the ‘In-Residence’ programme is among the many initiatives taken to open up the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the public. He described the participants of the programme as ‘honoured and special guests’, who will continue to be so because of their talent.”
Speaking further on what the president said to the group, Shitanshu said, “The President described the selected guests as the creative minds of a resurgent India, who will add many more glorious chapters to our ancient civilisation. He also asserted that a society that could not respect talent could not be described as progressive.”
Speaking to HT, Shitanshu said that he presented a picture of his award-winning ceramic work (sculpture) to the president. “I received a Rashtriya Akademi Award for it. The president looked at the picture and then congratulated me. He said: Thank you for presenting this to me,” shared the artist, adding, “I was lucky enough to shake hands with him.”
A former student of Arts College, Lucknow, Shitanshu opened up on how the experience had altered and made him a better person. “I deal with visual elements, giving forms to dreams. My stay at the Rashtrapati Bhavan has taken my creative initiatives to a higher level. It has helped me gain a different perspective of creativity through stories, plays, poems and innovations. I got a chance to interact with innovators who have made a big change in the lives of millions, at the grassroots, through their extraordinary idea, vision and will.” He added, “I find myself a more disciplined person. This will help me perform better in my roles as a citizen and an artist.”
Shitanshu said that the president stressed that innovation and creative ideas were essential for the growth and development of the country. “We were told that once we return to our states, we would serve as the ambassadors of the president and the Rashtrapati Bhavan. We should encourage others to innovate to find solutions to problems of people in their day-to-day lives,” the artist said.
The ‘InResidence’ programme was launched by the president of India on December 11, 2013, with a view to encourage senior creative people as well as young and upcoming talent, by facilitating them to stay close to nature in the picturesque and serene surroundings of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. In the last two years, four writers, five artists and 15 innovations scholars have benefited from the programme.
Participants at the ‘In-Residence’ programme 2016:
Innovators: GK Ratnakar from Karnataka (mini hydro turbines), Mushtaq Ahmed Dar from J&K (walnut cracker), Lal Biakzuala Ralte from Mizoram (bamboo splint-making machine), Mallesham Laxminarayana Chinthakindi from Andhra Pradesh (‘Laxmi’ Asu making machine), Amrut Lal Bawandas Agrawat from Gujarat (Aaruni bullock cart and innovative pulley), Anuradha Pal from Andhra Pradesh (‘Right biotic’ an antibiotic finder) and Shri Swapnanil Debajit Talukdar from Assam (foot-operated manual page-turning machine).
Writers: Binod Ghosal from West Bengal, Jwishri Boro from Assam and Dhwanil Ravindrabhai Parekh from Gujarat. All three are winners of the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar.
Artists: Shitanshu G Maurya, visual artist from Uttar Pradesh. He won the Rashtriya Akademi Award from Lalit Kala Akademi in 2010.