High Commission of India
Remarks by High Commissioner at 7th Founding Day Anniversary of the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre, Dhaka
Main Auditorium, Bangladesh National Museum
March 14, 2017
H.E. Mr. Anwar Hossein Monju, Minister of Environment of Bangladesh,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I welcome you to the 7th Founding Day Anniversary of the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre in Dhaka. In the seven years of its existence, the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre has undertaken a number of activities which have contributed to strengthening the bonds between the people of our two countries.
Shared culture between India and Bangladesh provide a unique bond between the two countries. The people of both countries, especially the erstwhile united Bengal and Tripura, take pride in their rich cultural heritage of thousands of years. The music and poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, Baul and folk music, classical performing arts and visual arts are celebrated with enthusiasm and joy in both countries. Large numbers of Bangladeshi and Indian cultural artists exchange visits every year which deepens cultural links between the two countries.
Recognizing the significant contribution of our shared cultural traditions, Government of India, took the landmark decision of establishing the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre in Dhaka under the aegis of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in the year 2010. The Centre was formally inaugurated on March 11, 2010 in Dhaka and has since been involved in promotion of friendly bilateral cultural exchanges between India and Bangladesh.
One of the main activities of the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre is organising training courses to teach various aspects of Indian culture. Short-term training courses in Hindi, Yoga, Hindustani classical vocal music, Tabla, Manipuri dance and painting are conducted in our centre. These courses are very popular and I am happy to say that every year around two thousand students are trained in our centre. In the last five years, over ten thousand students have taken training in our centre.
The activities of the Centre have covered the entire cultural domain, including music and dance programmes, painting competitions, screening of Indian and Bangladeshi films and documentaries, film festivals, art exhibitions, book launches, lectures, group discussions and workshops on Yoga, Hindustani Classical Vocal and Instrumental music, Indian classical dance and Painting, etc.
There has been active cultural exchange of top Indian and Bangladeshi cultural artists through regular bilateral visits for performances in each other’s countries promoted by the Centre. Our two countries have held Joint Celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore and the 90th Anniversary of the publication of the poem “Bidrohi” by Kazi Nazrul Islam. We have also held joint celebration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Besides these, in the last few years, some memorable programmes have been organised by IGCC - lecture by Indian danseuse Mamata Shankar, visit of eminent Rabindra Sangeet singer Pramita Mallick, Gaudiya Nritya troupe from Kolkata, Yakshagan troupe, Shehnai group, Roohani sisters group sent by ICCR, visit of Rezwana Choudhury Bannya to India, Art Competition organised at Dhaka University etc.
The IGCC promotes Bangladeshi artists as much it promotes Indian artists. The reasoning being that the shared cultural heritage has to be made available to people in both our countries. Culture is also the best medium with which to enhance people-to-people contacts. The vibrancy of the cultural arena in Bangladesh is a phenomenon that never ceases to surprise me. Just the other day, I attended the ‘Prangonemor: Dui Banglar Natyamala’ festival, which is still ongoing at the Shilpakala Academy, and at which as many as 65 cultural personalities had come to participate. The Bengal Classical Festival in Dhaka attracts some of the finest cultural artistes of India. This festival has now been extended to Sylhet and we are working with the Bengal Foundation to jointly take it to other parts of the country.
I thank the Bangladesh Government and all Bangladeshis for their cooperation and goodwill in making our efforts successful. I would like to thank H.E. Mr Anwar Hossein Monju, Minister of Environment of Bangladesh for sparing has valuable time to grace this occasion. He has been a strong supporter of close ties between India and Bangladesh and a good friend of India’s.
I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome among us the future of Indian diplomacy – Officer Trainees of the 2016 batch of the Indian Foreign Service who are here on a familiarization visit. We wanted them to experience some of the cultural vibrancy in Bangladesh communicated through the performances of the Bangladesh students of the IGCC.
I would like to congratulate the Director of the IGCC Smt. Jayshree Kundu for her steering of the cultural relationship between our two countries and for organizing this wonderful programmer this evening.
I commend our teachers who work hard to impart excellent training to their students. A special word of thanks to our teachers Mr. Santosh Kumar Misra, Dr. Yogesh Vasistha, Dr. Aparna Pandey (who has just left us on completion of her tenure), Ms. Warda Rihab and Mr. Kushal Roy for training the students for today’s programme. I also commend our students for their keen interest, enthusiasm and efforts for which they have been able to imbibe the knowledge.