Aiming to disseminate traditional Indian knowledge, including about its art, architecture, timeless epics and Vedas, among the world community, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) ill soon start online courses, and a dedicated portal is likely to be launched on April 2, ICCR president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said on Monday.
Addressing a press conference at Azad Bhawan here to share details about the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) plans to hold celebrations under the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, he also said that a three-day crafts fair ‘Coalescence’, will be hosted in the city from February 23-25, wherein artists and crafts persons from 11 states will showcase traditional art forms.
The MEA has already hosted events like the ‘Gen Next Democracy Network Programme’ (in November 2021) and many more programmes are lined up as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, to which delegates from various democratic countries have been invited, he said.
When asked by a reporter if Pakistan was an invitee, he replied, “As I said, only democratic countries have been invited”.
On a question regarding several Afghan students who had received ICCR scholarships, wanting to come to India, Sahasrabuddhe said,”These are issues which are inter-disciplinary, involving MEA and the Ministry of Home Affairs. And, it is their job, whether to give or extend visas. Our job is limited that way to offering scholarships and facilitating their entry into India, and that we are doing whenever they get permission.”
The situation in Afghanistan has changed since the Taliban takeover of the government last August, leaving the fate of many students in limbo. The MEA has planned multiple celebrations in the coming days as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations. Due to COVID-19, the schedule was impacted, but by early April, the situation is expected to be better, he said.
During the ongoing celebrations to mark 75 years of India’s Independence, “We are also going to start Universalisation of Traditional Indian Knowledge System or UTIKS, as part of which people living in foreign countries will be able to learn about traditional knowledge of our country through online courses, and appreciate our art, culture and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana,” Sahasrabuddhe said.
When asked about the courses to be offered, Sahasrabuddhe, also a Rajya Sabha member, said, “This will be our own way of running an ed X or a Coursera on traditional Indian knowledge.”
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“There will be short-term and long-term online courses, ranging from four hours to 40 hours, on everything under the sun about the Indian culture. From a recipe for rosogullah to fundamentals of Warli paintings, Madhubani art, appreciating the art of Ajanta and Ellora caves, understanding the basics of Vedas, introduction to Ramayana and Mahabharata, the life of Babasaheb Ambedkar, among other subjects,” he said.
The academic partner for this programme is Savitribai Phule Pune University, he added. “Other institutions may join later, but to begin with, Savitribai Phule Pune University is our partner. This permanent course is open to all, and there is no bar on age or anything else. And, the fee will be very nominal,” Sahasrabuddhe said.
The ICCR president said a portal for UTIKS is ready and it is likely to be launched on April 2. Asked who will launch the portal, he said, “We have requested our foreign minister for it.” The portal will allow people across the world to register themselves online and enrol for these courses. One can complete a course and switch to another too, the Rajya Sabha member said.
As part of the celebrations, the ICCR will also offer an ‘Indian alumni i-card’ to those foreign students who have learnt music or musical instruments from ‘gurus’ in India, and completed their learning, he said. On the crafts mela, he said, this is perhaps for the first time in the history of ICCR that an event of such a nature has been hosted by it, as “art and culture are essentially depicted in soft diplomacy through music and dance forms”.
A senior official of ICCR said Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi is slated to inaugurate the event at Bikaner House. Several diplomats have been invited to the event.
The opening ceremony will be witnessed only by the diplomatic community and general visitors can visit the fair later, he said. Craftspersons from 11 states will exhibit several forms of traditional art and craft forms like bamboo art, textiles, traditional and folk art, beauty aromatics and recycled products. On all three days, participating artisans in turn will give 45-60 minute talks with demonstrations of the skill or show videos to explain their creative processes to visitors, said the ICCR, the cultural wing of MEA.
The lecture-demonstration will be on Gond art of Madhya Pradesh; miniature art from Rajasthan; bamboo craft from Delhi; Kalamkari art from Telangana; moonj grass baskets from Uttar Pradesh; Warli art form from Maharashtra and natural dye-cotton from Gujarat, among others, it said.
The ‘Craft Mela’ is to highlight how India’s craft practices can help balance the ecology of the planet while sustaining India’s cultural heritage, local livelihoods and meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the ICCR president said. The ‘mela’ has been curated by Jaya Jaitley of Dastkari Haat Samiti, New Delhi, the ICCR said.
Courtesy : The Indian Express