Richa Agarwal is carving out her niche in the Rs 7,000 crore Kolkata-based Emami group. Married to Aditya Agarwal, the elder son of group Co-founder and Joint Chairman R.S. Agarwal, Richa has a passion for art and has found active support at home. While in her childhood she would enjoy doing a Tanjore painting, she is now busy promoting art and thinking of new ways to store art and paintings in places like Kolkata that have a humid climate. In a conversation over the phone with E. Kumar Sharma, she touches upon some of her work and her role at Emami. Edited excerpts:
Q- You have created and have been running a new line of business in art for Emami. How important is it as a business for Emami?
A- It gives me flexibility in my work and allows me to play all my roles [at home and work]. It has less to do with business and commerce but more to do with promoting art.
Q- Who encouraged you to take this up?
A- My father-in-law [R.S. Agarwal] provided a lot of encouragement and, of course, my husband has been very supportive, as have been others within the family.
Q- Tell us a bit about the focus and activities of Emami Chisel Art (ECA) that has been created for this purpose?
A- We have a gallery that promotes Indian art and young artists through numerous exhibitions, retrospectives, art catalogues and publications. Spread across almost 18,000 sq ft., the gallery collection includes paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings sourced from the artists themselves, or from reputed art galleries and private collectors.
Q- What are the plans to grow this?
A- There are big plans within the group for ECA. Currently, we are focused on setting up a massive 80,000 sq ft art centre in Kolkata for all forms of art and later including plans for a television channel on art.
Q- How do you find the landscape change as far as getting more daughters and daughters-in-law into business, especially in many Indian family-led businesses?
A- I feel the whole mindset has changed now and it is not so much about the girls pushing themselves... I feel it is more about parents wanting it because they are seeing the difference. Incidentally, I come from an all-girls family - we are in all three sisters.
Q- What is the role that you play beyond art and are your inputs sought for other businesses within Emami?
A- While I am focused on art, we all do discuss a lot of work at home and he [R.S. Agarwal] is very open with all of us sitting through some of his meetings.
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