IIC, intellectual and culture hub, celebrates 50 yearsJanuary 22nd, 2012 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The India International Centre (IIC), a multi-dimensional hub of intellectual and cultural discourse nestled in a leafy environment, Saturday became 50 year old, winning praise for its role in shaping “thoughtful understanding between peoples of nations”.
“The IIC is 50 years old. No, sorry, sorry, sorry. The IIC is fifty years young,” Soli J. Sorabjee, president of the board of IIC trustees, opened the birthday celebrations at the C. D. Deshmukh auditorium of the Centre. Deshmukh was the Centre’s first president.
Vice President Hamid Ansari chaired the session to mark the five decades of IIC where statesmen, diplomats, policy makers, thought leaders, scientists, jurists, writers and artistes from across the world interact and exchange ideas.
“Anniversaries are occasions to celebrate,” Ansari said, and congratulated the Centre for serving its stated purpose, which “was not to change the world”.
“The stated purpose of the venture was for the quickening and deepening of the true and thoughtful understanding between peoples of nations,” he said of the Centre, a brainchild of one of his predecessors, the educationist S. Radhakrishnan, and American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III.
Jawaharlal Nehru, then prime minister of India, readily accepted the idea and allotted a 4.76 acres site adjacent to the expansive Lodi Gardens for setting up the Centre, which was inaugurated this day in 1962.
Later, as the activities of the Centre expanded, an annexe was added to the main complex in December 1996.
In the last five decades, the Centre has hosted eminent thinkers and world leaders including Pearl Buck, the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, among its visitors in its early years.
In recent years, eminent public personalities who spoke at the Centre included Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, first Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, US diplomat Henry Kissinger, Israel’s Shimon Peres and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh.
Ansari aptly described the Centre as a meadow, park and garden in one entity.
“In a meadow all is profusion, randomness, variety. A park is for the most part publicly maintained, highly regulated with different sectors for different uses. A garden is smaller and more inwardly turned. It aims for the sublime not the efficient or the just,” he quoted an unnamed author.
“My own experience with the Centre suggests the presence of all the three in proportions that vary from individual to individual, occasion to occasion, pursuit to pursuit. Here in lies its multi-dimensional character, a trait that allows diversity, even eccentricity to flourish.”
The vice president of course did mention about the culture of gastronomy at the Centre that serves “reviving drinks” and hearty cuisines to its members.
Sorabjee said reaching a certain age was not an achievement in itself.
“It is a chronological event. The question is what have you done in these 50 years. “The IIC has indeed established itself as a centre for exchanges between different communities.”
Former union minister Jagmohan, a regular visitor to the centre since 1980 when he was Delhi’s Lt. governor, told IANS that the Centre provided him the opportunity “to sharpen my intellect”.
“It is a wonderful place. And has lots to offer - food for thought and food for stomach,” said Jagmohan, who spends hours daily in the library of the IIC.
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