Royal gloss to India-UK culture celebrations

Royal gloss to India-UK culture celebrations


It is probably the best of time for India-UK relations and it can’t get more royal than this.Come February 27, the celebration of Indian culture in the United Kingdom will begin at Buckingham Palace, the abiding symbol of British royalty, with a reception to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
The reception by the 90-year-old Queen, the world’s longest reigning monarch, is expected to attract guests from across various fields in India, including Finance Minister ArunJaitley, and the UK’s senior-most minister of Indian origin Priti Patel among other key Cabinet ministers.
The Palace came out with the date of the reception as February 27 in the calendar of engagements of the Queen. “Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh will give a reception to mark the launch of the UK India Year of Culture 2017.” The decision to celebrate India-UK cultural bonding in 2017 was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to London in November 2015.

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UNESCO boost for India’s cultural diplomacy: Yoga declared as world treasure

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi participates in the mass yoga demonstration at Rajpath on the occasion of International Yoga Day, in New Delhi on June 21, 2015.

It’s a high moment for the global march of yoga and India’s cultural diplomacy. Building on the success of the UN’s designation of the International Yoga Day, the UNESCO has now declared yoga as “world treasure” and inscribed the ancient Indian practice in its Representative List as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In a quiet diplomatic triumph for India, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the 24-member Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage unanimously declared Yoga as a “Human Treasure” on December 1. The panel overturned the decision of an Evaluation Body of technical experts, which sought to defer the case to the next session of the Committee in 2017.
The Indian Delegation to Addis Ababa was led by India’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj. “Never ever happened before! After #Yoga inscription, entire conference does Yogic breathing,” tweeted Ms Kamboj. India’s Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma hailed the UNESCO’s inscription of yoga as “a huge achievement for India.”

The decision is set to give an added boost to the global popularity of yoga as yoga activities can be now promoted with the prestigious UNESCO branding and logo.
The UNESCO’s inscription of yoga also provides more resonance to India’s role as a bridge-builder in promoting a global dialogue on intercultural relations and sustainable development.

Toasting India-Thailand Sanskrit Bonding: Honouring Princess Sirindhorn


It was a time for Indo-Thai cultural bonding. Sanskrit and sanskriti (culture) blended beautifully as Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was conferred the first World Sanskrit Award in the Indian capital on November 21.
“The Thai language is very different from Sanskrit. But culturally it’s very similar,” the Thai princess said after receiving the first Sanskrit award instituted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). It’s a great honour to receive it from the Vice President of the country. The award included US$ 20,000, a citation and a lapel pin.
Sirindhorn, fondly called by Thais as “Phra Thep” (“princess angel”), has emerged as a top contender for the crown in Thailand after the recent death of the country’s beloved monarch. A well-regarded scholar of Sanskrit, the 60-year-old Thai Princess has served as Royal Patron for the World Sanskrit Conference.
In his speech, Vice-President Hamid Ansari evoked the beauty and depth of the Sanskrit language in which many of India’s iconic religious and philosophical texts were written.
Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar underscored the effortless spread of Sanskrit to foreign countries over the years, and cited it as an example of India’s soft power. “Sanskrit did not travel with arms and is the first true evidence of what we today call soft power,” he said.

Why Sardar Patel matters: An Icon of National Unity


An extraordinary leader, freedom fighter and architect of the integration of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, better known as “Iron Man of India,” remains an enduring icon of patriotism, nationalism and the spirit of public service. In a fitting tribute to this giant, India will be launching week-long celebrations on Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31, which has been aptly designated as Rashtriya Ekta Divas or National Unity Day.
A quintessential self-made man, Patel’s life story exemplifies the sheer power of will, hard work and sincerity as he scripted a new life for himself first as a lawyer, and then as a freedom fighter and nation-builder amid trying circumstances.
Given his formidable organizational abilities and unflinching commitment to nation-building, Sardar Patel was appointedas the first deputy prime minister and home minister of independent India, the crucial posts which brought out the best in him and help create an integrated and unified India as we know it now. Patel the Unifier is justly remembered for his iron will and firmness with which he facilitated the integration of over 500 princely states into the framework of federal India.
A pragmatist and realist to the core, Patel was a sharp observer of the international scene and advocated a realistic foreign policy in place of a symbolic idealism. He consistently advocated that no move must be adopted that would compromise the territorial integrity of India, and in particular, cautioned against internationalizing the Kashmir dispute. “I should like to make one thing clear, that we shall not surrender an inch of Kashmir territory to anybody,” Patel famously said.
Sardar Patel may have lived only two and a half years after India’s independence, but in those few months, he shaped the narrative of a modern, strong and self-reliant India. Often compared to Germany’s legendary leader Otto van Bismarck for his key role in the integration of princely states into India, Patel contributed to nation-building in myriad ways.
Decades after his death, Sardar Patel’s absolute love and devotion for India continues to inspire all those who are engaged in the resurgence of India. Tributes and honours continue to pour in for this legendary figure to this day.

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Cultural diplomacy poised for a bigger role, to promote Brand India: ICCR chief Amarendra Khatua


Politics divides, culture connects. In Shanghai, a pact was signed between India and China to recreate Raj Kapoor’s 1951 classic Awaara into a contemporary Chinese opera.
Amarendra Khatua, the new director-general of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), who was in Shanghai to deliver the keynote address at the 18th China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF), struck an upbeat note on long-standing civilisational ties and promoting cultural exchanges in Tier-II and Tier-III cities in India and China. The joint theatrical remake of Awaara, which remains the most popular Indian movie in China, hints at more such collaborative cultural tie-ups India is set to pursue in days to come.
“Cultural diplomacy is poised to play a bigger role in India’s foreign policy calculus in days and months to come and promote Brand India,” said Khatua, a veteran diplomat who is also famous as an accomplished poet who writes and translates in English, Hindi and other Indian languages.

Namaste France: Celebrating Indo-French cultural connect


Namaste France, Bonjour India! The cultural alchemy between India and France is for real, and is now seen in all its glory and myriad splendour in the moveable feast of Indian culture, songs, dance, films, plays and performances which has rolled out across cities in France, inviting the French to soak in the eternal wonder that is India.
The sheer scale of Namaste France festival is staggering and attest to the expanding canvas of India-France cultural relations: 75 days, 23 cities and the crème de la crème of India’s performing arts dazzling the French audience.

Indian Muslims have forged an Indo-Islamic Culture: VP Ansari

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