Art And Culture

Indian PM Modi Addresses Tehran Cultural Conclave

Indian PM Modi Addresses Tehran Cultural Conclave
Indian PM Modi Addresses Tehran Cultural Conclave

Political pundits in the world of today talk of strategic convergence, but, “India and Iran are two civilizations that celebrate the meeting of our great cultures,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Tehran on Monday.

Releasing the Persian manuscript ‘Kalileh-wa-Dimneh’, Modi said it is a classic example of exchange and travel of cultural ideas between two societies. “A beautiful demonstration of how our two cultures and countries think alike. A true depiction of the wisdom of our ancient civilizations.”

Heading a high-powered economic delegation, Modi arrived on Sunday and held meetings with the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.  The two countries signed a historic deal to develop the strategic Chabahar Port in southeast Iran.

Monday’s function was organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations(ICCR) and Iran’s Farhangistan (culture house) in association with the Indian Embassy in Tehran.

Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati and Gholamali Haddad Adel, president of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, were among the dignitaries present.

Inaugurating the international conference on ‘India-Iran, Two Great Civilizations: Retrospect and Prospect,’ the Indian leader said the cultural conclave “is a perfect response to those who preach radical thoughts in our societies and fulfils a responsibility to familiarize our younger generations with the beauty and riches of our cultural heritage.”

No one is more qualified to shoulder this task than this gathering of learned men and scholars. It is indeed an honor and privilege to be amidst such a galaxy of scholars and thinkers of Iran, Modi told the conferees.

“In India, we regard the Persian language as one of our own,” he noted. The rare Persian manuscript captures the close historical links between India and Iran. It is remarkable how the simple stories of the Indian classics of Jataka and Panchatantra became the Persian Kalileh-wa-Dimneh.

The great medieval poets of India have called Persian and Sanskrit two sisters. Persian served as a court language in medieval India. But, its popularity is also because it is written on the hearts of Indians and is taught in around 40 universities in India. All India Radio has been running the Persian language service for the last 75 years, he pointed out.

He further said India has a collection of almost 5 million manuscripts of Persian in public and private collections. There are more than 20 million documents in Persian in the National and State Archives. Many of these have common heritage as they were written by Iranian calligraphers and painted by Indian artists. A major effort to digitize all manuscripts, including Persian is currently underway.

In the richness of Iranian culture, who can forget the poetry and beauty of the Persian language, Modi asked.

 Boundless Strength

Stressing that “our heritage has also been a source of strength and economic growth for our nations,” he said centuries of free exchange of ideas and traditions, poets and craftsmen, art and architecture, culture and commerce have enriched both civilizations.

The richness of Persian heritage is an integral part of the fabric of the Indian society. A part of Iranian culture lives in Indian hearts. And, a slice of Indian heritage is woven into the Iranian society.

“Our contacts have not just refined our own cultures. They have also contributed to the growth of moderate and tolerant societies globally,” Modi said.

“Our historical ties may have seen their share of ups and downs. But, throughout, our partnership has remained a source of boundless strength. The time has come for us to regain the past glory of traditional ties and links. In this endeavor the eminent scholars have a defining role to play.”

He also congratulated Hadded Adel for his ongoing project to bring out an Encyclopedia on the Indian sub-continent in Persian that would be of great service to researchers and scholars.