Eka, the company established by Pramod Kumar K.G. is perhaps the sole cataloguing and archiving company in India
Pramod Kumar's story should make a good movie: young man gets an MBA, leaves hometown, works in the corporate sector in Mumbai and then quits it all to pursue his passion for arts and culture, turns entrepreneur and a sought-after museologist. And so far, there have been only inspiring twists to this story.
New Delhi-based Pramod Kumar K.G. was in the city, his hometown, to participate in the World Dance Forum that brought together academics and artistes last weekend. Sitting in his home in Jawahar Nagar, Pramod goes through the various milestones in his life so far.
Managing Director of Eka Cultural Resources and Research, Pramod started out with a regular nine-to-five job in Mumbai with Apollo Hospitals, more than a decade ago. Even during the two years he spent in corporate India, Pramod read extensively on textiles, art management and culture. In fact, as he was marketing healthcare services, he was involved with a commercial art gallery project at Apollo.
The decision to quit the comfort of a secure corporate job came quite easily to Pramod who grabbed a life-changing opportunity and moved to Delhi. Working with Rajeev Sethi, the well-known scenographer and designer gave Pramod his first major break in the field of art and culture.
“I was the head of a research project for the Smithsonian Museum, Washington,” he says, chronicling the rich and significant impact the international project had on him. For Pramod, this prestigious Smithsonian project was even better than getting a degree in Museology as it gave him hands-on training and exposure to the art and culture of 22 countries.
Armed with this experience, Pramod moved to another city, painted vibrant-pink with history and culture – Jaipur. It was there that he met John and Faith Singh of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation that was waiting to meet the right person to organise the Jaipur International Heritage Festival.
Pramod went on to work with the festival and ran it for a year. “At that time, back in 2004 or so, this was the only city festival in India,” he says, underlining the experience he gained from working with the Foundation.
It was around then that Pramod and a few friends realised there was a need to promote reading and books in Jaipur. What started out as an idea for a book club became the Jaipur Literature Festival. He directed the first edition of the festival in 2005.
It was around the same time that he set up India's first museum on hand-block printing – the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing in Jaipur. The next milestone was his work with the Alkazi Foundation in New Delhi. During his four years with the Foundation, Pramod worked with Ebrahim Alkazi to bring his entire collection of photographs to India. The Alkazi collection of photography is considered India's largest archive of 19th and early 20th century photographs.
Soon after, another challenging and prestigious project came along: to be the consultant curator of the City Palace Museum-Udaipur. It was then that Pramod realised it was time to set up his own consultancy and Eka was born.
Eka is perhaps the sole cataloguing and archiving company in India today. “We catalogue and archive collections in India and abroad, create galleries and spaces for art, curate and facilitate dialogues between museums in different parts of the world,” he explains.
A recent project was an exhibition of photographs from the Raja Deen Dayal Archive at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, which received rave reviews. Upcoming projects include one cataloguing textile arts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Although no longer connected with the Jaipur Literary Festival, Pramod still maintains his relationship with books through ‘Mountain Echoes,' a literary festival in Bhutan produced by literary agency Siyahi. Co-directing it with Namita Gokhale (who has been directing the Jaipur Festival for many years now), he is drawing out a programme for the second edition coming up in May.
What Pramod's story proves is probably a motivational cliché – that pursuing one's passion will take you places. However, it is a cliché worth believing in.
So, what does this museum man think of this sector in Kerala? “Architecturally, the Napier Museum in Thiruvananthapuram is one of my favourites, but we need to make museums more people-friendly,” says Pramod. Even as he points to the significance of the Sri Chithra Art Gallery for its Roerichs and Ravi Varma collections, he feels strongly about making art and museum spaces more accessible, people-friendly, aesthetic and educational.
Excited about the World Dance Forum and its efforts to take the lead on a creating a dance museum in Kerala, Pramod is open to projects in Kerala, his home State.
Keywords: Jaipur Literature Festival