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India's soft power push into China with largest ever festival of culture, heritage

world Updated: May 12, 2014 21:11 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Aptly called “Glimpses of India”, the largest ever festival of Indian culture and heritage in China was inaugurated in Shanghai and Beijing with a classical dance programme performed by the Chennai-based Kalakshetra over the weekend.

The year-long festival will have a sprinkling of the usual ingredients often served as an intrinsic part of Indian culture – movies, Yoga, an exhibition of IT and cuisine from different parts of the country.

A break from the tradition will be the focus on Buddhism including an exhibition of Buddhism-related artefacts exhibited in the 200- year-old Indian Museum in Kolkata.

“It will be a very large exhibition,” Ravindra Singh, secretary of culture, told Indian journalists in Beijing on Monday. Two photo exhibitions on Buddhism will also be inaugurated in Hong Kong later this week, Singh said

Singh said this was the first time that Indian culture was being showcased in China in such a large-scale.

“The focus is on people who do not know reach out to the Chinese youth,” Singh said.

A film festival with around a dozen Hindi and regional language movies is expected to be held later this year. A bunch of movies has been submitted to the Chinese government for their censor board to see and certify.

A literary festival to be organised by the Sahitya Akademy and a fusion dance programme by the Sangeet Natak Akademy are planned as well.

The initial idea was to hold the festival events in 12 Chinese cities but the list could expand, India’s Ambassador to China, Ashok K Kantha, said.

In a first, an entertainment industry delegation is expected in China during the events to discuss the commercial screening of Indian movies in China.

China has strict control over the number of foreign movies screened here – around 25 every year – and Indian movies are not shown in movie theatres here.

On Sunday, China's Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao, while inaugurating the festival, said: “Even today, the Chinese people are mesmerised by the mysterious culture of India and also eager to learn more about the oriental wisdom, spirit and charm embodied in the Indian civilisation.”

“I believe that the activities during the Glimpses also offer an opportunity and window to Chinese people to learn about India, get close to India and embrace India,” Liu added.