Though it’s been nearly two decades since he retired in the capacity of Chief Economic Adviser to Govt of India, life is still as busy as ever for Hyderabad’s Mohan Guruswamy. He’s taken up assignments as the director of several companies, he consults independently on projects, he writes books and columns, and he also serves as a visiting faculty for educational institutions abroad.
Now, he’s all set to give back to the city that he was born and raised in by turning a piece of his property into a venue for the revival of local art. Calling it a “token of thanksgiving from his family to Secunderabad,” Mohan says that he wants to celebrate and preserve the cultural heritage of the “the city that has given us so much.”
Talking about the premises itself, he says, “I grew up in this house from 1948. Back then, it was the last house before the military cantonment. Later, the city gradually expanded. After my parents passed away, I decided not to stay here because it was getting too noisy, and I gave the house up for redevelopment in 2015. But since it was my father’s house, I decided to keep a piece of the property to honour him.”
Now, Mohan has turned the 4,000 sq.ft property on the fourth floor of AMG Plaza into state-of-the-art premises entirely at his own cost. The space is available, free of cost, for public lectures, debates, discourses, workshops, seminars, ideation and the display of art.
“I am planning to start a trust to oversee the operations of this premises so that it can sustain itself,” Mohan adds. Explaining what prompted him to develop a space dedicated to intellectual and cultural activities, he says, “I studied at St Annes School and Mehboob College, both of which had great cultural heritage. And when I look at those institutions now, they are in the doldrums. The situation is a classic metaphor for Secunderabad’s collapse. I am hoping that discussions, debates and displays of art will trigger ideas, campaigns and movements among the youth, and that will help revive the city’s heritage.”
Mohan laments that Secunderabad has lost its distinctive character in modern times. “There used to be several cinema halls, good restaurants, ample parking spaces, and art shows. But they have all vanished now. I want to re-create that culture of intellectualism that has gone missing,” he says.
The premises will officially be launched on October 13, but artists and art-lovers are already queuing up to make the most of it. “A guy from Bhongir wants to showcase his Burrakatha work (an oral storytelling technique native to the villages of Telangana and AP), and tribes from Adilabad wants to display their Gond art and paintings. I hope that this new cultural centre will bring new hope to the city’s art-lovers,” Mohan signs off.