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ICCR Marks 75th Foundation Day

ICCR’s approach to cultural diplomacy encompasses a broad spectrum of activities aimed at reviving and strengthening international cultural relations…reports Asian Lite News

The 75th Foundation Day of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was celebrated on Tuesday, marking a significant milestone in its journey of enriching India’s diplomatic relations through cultural exchanges. Established on April 9, 1950, by Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, India’s inaugural Education Minister, ICCR has played a pivotal role in fostering mutual understanding and fostering cultural bonds between India and the global community.

The foundation of ICCR was a strategic move towards establishing India’s soft power diplomacy, acknowledging the importance of cultural relations in international diplomacy. Over the years, ICCR has evolved into a global ambassador of Indian culture, operating through its extensive network of cultural centres and diplomatic missions worldwide.

Global Cultural Initiatives

ICCR’s approach to cultural diplomacy encompasses a broad spectrum of activities aimed at reviving and strengthening international cultural relations. By running 37 Cultural Centres globally, ICCR facilitates the exchange of artistic and cultural values, thereby fostering global peace and understanding. These centres serve as hubs for cultural exchange, hosting numerous events that showcase the diversity of Indian culture.

One of the Council’s notable initiatives is the organization of international webinars and festivals that highlight India’s rich textile and artistic heritage. For instance, the “Weaving Relations: Textile Traditions” webinar, held on October 3, 2020, brought together artists and artisans from various countries to share their textile traditions, promoting a global appreciation for the craftsmanship and cultural narratives embedded in their work.

Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs

ICCR’s educational exchange programs have significantly contributed to promoting international understanding. Through scholarships and cultural exchanges, the Council has facilitated educational opportunities for foreign students in India, thereby nurturing a global network of alumni who act as ambassadors of goodwill and friendship between their home countries and India.

The ICCR offers an extensive range of over 3,000 scholarships across 21 different programs, catering to international students from more than 180 countries. Six of these programmes are funded by ICCR, while the remaining are funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Ayush.

The Council’s role in India’s external cultural relations extends to the strategic implementation of cultural diplomacy initiatives. These efforts are designed not only to showcase India’s cultural richness but also to build enduring international relationships. ICCR’s cultural events abroad, such as dance performances, music concerts, and art exhibitions, play a crucial role in projecting India’s soft power and fostering diplomatic relations.

ICCR’s Regional and Global Impact

The regional offices of ICCR across India collaborate with state governments, enhancing the domestic cultural landscape while also supporting the Council’s global mission. These partnerships facilitate the representation of India’s diverse cultural heritage on the international stage, ensuring that the cultural exchanges are reflective of the country’s rich tapestry of traditions and art forms.

The ‘Northeast Japan Caravan’ in Shillong (November 9, 2023), showcasing Judo and Karate demonstrations, is an example of how ICCR promotes cultural fusion and understanding. Such events underline the importance of cultural diplomacy in strengthening bilateral relations and enhancing people-to-people ties.

The ICCR’s sponsorship of cultural groups like the Sankalp Odishi Dance Group emphasizes the Council’s commitment to promoting Indian classical dance forms globally. Their 2023 performances in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have not only showcased the elegance and depth of Indian dance but also played a pivotal role in building cultural bridges and enhancing India’s cultural ties with these nations.

As the ICCR celebrates its 75th foundation day, its achievements in promoting India’s cultural heritage globally stand remains renowned with the enduring value of cultural diplomacy. The Council’s efforts in fostering international goodwill through cultural exchange continue to contribute significantly to India’s diplomatic endeavours, promoting a world that values cultural diversity and mutual respect. ( India News Network)

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