Meet the 22-year-old woman who quit her job in the US and came back to ‘rebrand’ India’s culture

At 22, Simar Malhotra is already the author of two books. The Stanford graduate is now looking at ‘rebranding and reasserting’ the value of Indian arts, literature, and culture through her initiative InkPot.

Meet the 22-year-old woman who quit her job in the US and came back to ‘rebrand’ India’s culture

Wednesday November 13, 2019,

3 min Read

Staying away from India led 22-year-old Simar Malhotra to realise the value of Indian arts, literature, and culture. She grew up in a business family in Delhi and went to Stanford University to study English, which she admits was a privilege few can afford.

“Often, distance not only makes the heart grow fonder but also allows a sense of clarity. That’s what happened at Stanford. I was always fond of all things culture, but staying away from India made me realise what all we were missing out on. We were swaying away from our roots, from things that made us who we are,” says Simar who wrote her first book at the age of 16. She adds that over several years, India has seen a rise in western “infatuation”, which has taken Indians away from their own culture.

Inkpot Founder Simar Malhotra

Inkpot Founder Simar Malhotra

And from this realisation and a desire to change this trend came about the idea of Inkpot. Simar came back to India this year with an aim to “reink, rebrand, and reassert” Indian arts and culture with her maiden venture.

Inkpot is organising its inaugural conclave in Delhi this month, bringing together thought leaders from the art and culture world such as designers Rohit Bal, Ritu Beri, and Shantanu Mehra (one half of Shantanu & Nikhil), columnist Shobhaa De, acclaimed research-based interior designer and Padmashri Sunita Kohli, and Kathak doyen Padmashri Dr Shovana Narayan among several others. 

A platform for creative talent

Commenting on the conclave, which will act as a “curtain-raiser” for Inkpot, Simar says, “It’ll give the audience a taste of what we hope to achieve in the coming years. A myriad of topics will be discussed, including the literary landscape of India, the role of media in shaping perceptions, how the arts shape cultural identities etc.”

The conclave is being funded through sponsorships by Godrej Industries, Tiger Logistics India Ltd, and others. 

Simar’s vision is to turn Inkpot into a startup that can serve as a platform for finding creative talent and for small artists to sell their products. 

“I’m still thinking of ways in which this can become a revenue-making platform. One of them is creating a platform like a fusion between JustDial and Amazon,” she explains.

Simar is enrolled for a master’s programme in public policy in the US, which begins next September. But she is certain that she will come back to India once she finishes that and will focus full time on Inkpot.  

“I think the West has a lot of great things to offer. Education is one of them. But with that education, I want to work towards benefiting my country, make an impact in the society that’s nurtured me, in the space that I think needs me more, and the space that I want to matter in,” she says.

Before coming back to India Simar was working in the creative strategy department of an advertising startup called Funworks in Oakland, California. She quit and moved to India because she felt that it was time for her “to hold the reins and get dirty in the execution of it all” to build Inkpot.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

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