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India ki Udaan: Google Arts & Culture celebrates 75 years of India’s independence


Try a digital crossword, browse photo essays and pore over archival content on Google Arts & Culture’s virtual exhibition celebrating 75 years of India’s independence

Try a digital crossword, browse photo essays and pore over archival content on Google Arts & Culture’s virtual exhibition celebrating 75 years of India’s independence

India ki Udaan, an interactive virtual exhibition on Google Arts & Culture (GA&C) app to commemorate India’s 75th Independence Day, uses archival footage from history and accentuates them with vibrant illustrations to arrive at snackible forms of storytelling. You can browse the exhibition that dropped on GA&C on August 5 to view photo essays from the freedom movement, take a closer look at the green and white revolutions, read about men and women who have helped shape the nation in different spheres, from science to sports. You can also play a digital crossword to know how well you know the freedom movement.

Amit Sood, director GA&C, informs that further chapters will be added to this exhibition throughout the year: “The second edition should be out in two to three months. We are working with museums and archival foundations to continue sourcing relevant information. India at 75 cannot be a one-time, flash-in-the-pan exhibition.”

Of illustrations and photo essays

The colourful illustrations that pop up while navigating the exhibition are the handiwork of 10 young creative illustrators. The GA&C team scoured the internet to identify creators with distinct visual styles on Instagram and other platforms. “These illustrators worked with museum and archival material and surprised us with their storytelling abilities. These nuggets of information will enable users to quickly get into a story. The exhibits will occupy a few rooms in a physical building. In the digital space, we can go on and on and reach users worldwide,” says Sood.

A portrait of Mahatma Gandhi
| Photo Credit: Museum of Art & Photography

GA&C partnered with the Archeological Survey of India, the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library in New Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, National Museum in New Delhi, Museum of Art & Photography in Bengaluru, among others, once they received the green signal from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Yash Raj Films came forward to share content on Indian cinema over the decades. Sood adds that in addition to national bodies, they intend to identify and work with state and district-level archival bodies to find more hidden gems.

Photo essays take a viewer through the freedom movement involving Mahatma Gandhi, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and others. The stories of green and white revolution have images interspersed with illustrations and texts to form the narratives. The science chapter To Infinity and Beyond looks at strides in space research, medicine and other areas. Milestones such as Rakesh Sharma’s journey into space, Chandrayan, India’s first digital computer are some of the starting points to take a deep dive into science. 

India in focus

Some of GA&C’s previous India-specific exhibitions are Wonders of India with ASI, Indian Railways – Lifeline of a Nation with the Ministry of Railways, Crafted for India, Raja Ravi Varma, Women in India: Unheard Stories and A brief history of vaccination.

Banking on AI

Women in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) recognises the contribution of one of India’s foremost women scientist Asima Chatterjee and also presents short personal stories of T K Anuradha, (retired) project director at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), among others: “These personal stories can be inspirational to school children and women aspiring for careers in science,” states Sood. 

Illustration of Rakesh Sharma

Illustration of Rakesh Sharma
| Photo Credit: Roshan Gawand

A chapter highlights pathfinders and pioneers such as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Government of India’s first minister of health. Unforgettable Wins looks at awards and milestones in different streams, including sports.

GA&C hopes to access audio footage (radio addresses) from the freedom movement to make the content more immersive. For the newer chapters of the exhibition that will roll out during the course of the year, GA&C is working with Indian artists and will leverage on machine learning and artificial intelligence to give it the technological edge. Literature and industrial development are some of the other focus areas for the forthcoming editions. 

India’s first Olympic gold medal

India’s first Olympic gold medal
| Photo Credit: Illustration by Ekta Singha

“India ki Udaan can work as reference material for schools and colleges. The intention is to whet the appetite of users to come back for more information rather than a one-off scrolling experience. Academic and research work is presented as smaller stories without watering down the essence,” adds Sood.

GA&C is in its 10th year in India and during the pandemic, the platform has witnessed increased engagement from Indian users. “Exhibitions such as A Brief History of India’s Vaccination have piqued curiosity of users in a timely manner,” he points out. One of the widely viewed exhibitions on the platform pertains to 26 years of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge: “The challenge for us is to try and get those users interested in other content, say, stories of Rabindranath Tagore. It is an ongoing process,” adds Sood.



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