Sunday, February 23, 2014


How does one pronounce the name "Wacziarg"?

Three days ago, I noticed this name for the first time in an obituary. Francis Wacziarg was a French national who came to India in 1970. He, along with a friend, Aman Nath, were researching on wall frescoes for a book called The Painted Frescoes of Shekhavati when then chanced upon the Neemrana fort, on the outskirts of Delhi.

Over a period of two decades, this abandoned fort was transformed into a showpiece on how Indian heritage ought to be preserved and made profitable at the same time. It also became the flagship brand for a number of heritage hotels that followed.

Apart from Wacziarg's eye for detail, what set him apart from the usual property developers was his genuine interest in the locals. He was closely involved in honing their skills and developing their communities.

This is a pattern that is central to another foreigner's success story in India - John & William Bissel of FabIndia. A venture that started in 1960 now has 1,000-odd employees and 16 community-owned (aka supplier region companies - SRCs), employing over 86,000 artisans.

One day I hope to learn how to pronounce Wacziarg. Along the way, I also hope to learn why foreigners seem to be more successful when it comes to bringing out the best in our own arts and traditions...


- Sinha, Nidhi (2014): 'MORE INDIAN THAN ANY INDIAN', IE, 21 Feb, 2014, p29


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