Brussels, along with the EU, is all set to host an Indian cultural festival for four months from October 7, according to Karan Singh, President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
The focus of the "Festival of India in Belgium" is to raise the cultural profile of India in Europe in general, and Brussels in particular, in view of the fact that the city has become the capital of the EU and the seat for many of the European institutions, Singh told journalists here Thursday evening.
The festival would encompass a variety of disciplines around a central exhibition titled "Tejas" (radiance) that would present a clear picture of the rich, pluralistic cultural heritage and contemporary creativity of India.
"The Festival comes at a time when there is a tremendous interest in the EU vis-a-vis India," said Singh. He pointed out that India was the 'partner country' for the Hannover Trade Fair (April, 2006), the 'theme country' for the Bonn Biennale (May, 2006) and will be the 'guest of honour country' for the Frankfurt Book Fair (October, 2006).
"The Festival of India in Brussels is an event to which we give very great importance. We are organising such a Festival in any country after a hiatus of almost over two decades," he noted.
The Brussels Festival, organised by the ICCR in collaboration with the Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR) will also consist of a series of other events including performing arts, a fashion show, a film festival, a food festival, an exhibition on contemporary Indian art, several photographic exhibitions, theatre and folk arts.
"In all of these manifestations, we will attempt to showcase, through some of the best artists and creative minds from India, the immense richness and diversity of India's ancient, plural and composite culture," said Singh.
He later spoke on "India and Europe: The Way Ahead" at Belgium's Royal Institute of International Relations (IRRI-KIIB), the INEP news agency reported.
"The emergence of the EU after centuries of internecine conflict was a miracle and one of the most remarkable and positive developments of the 20th century. I often hold this as a model for the way in which our own regional association -SAARC- should develop in the years ahead," he said.
On the political front, he said the EU and India had an important stake in the reforms in the UN, WTO, human rights issues and in dealing with the menace of global terrorism.
"That is why the relationship between India and Europe cannot be built solely through bilateral cooperation," he stressed.
The event was chaired by Viscount Etienne Davignon, President of IRRI-KIIB.
Singh, who was accompanied by Pavan K. Varma, Director General ICCR, also met with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, apart from several other members of the European Parliament.