India, South Africa sign agreement on culture

August 20th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) India will showcase its rich cultural and art heritage, including handicrafts, literature and films in South Africa to further strengthen its age-old relations with the country, said a statement issued here Wednesday.Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni signed a programme of cooperation in the field of arts and culture with her South African counterpart Pallo Jordan during her just concluded visit to the nation. Soni returned Tuesday from South Africa after a four-day visit.

Under the programme, which is till 2010, there would be exchanges and cooperation between associations, institutions and individuals in the fields of music, theatre, library and performing arts, the statement said.

There would also be exchanges of handicrafts exhibition. Design related activities and education would also be another area where collaboration and exchanges would be undertaken, it said.

To encourage the study of literature of each other’s country, there would be exchange of books and translation of literary works. Writers, policy experts and creative writers of both the countries would travel to the other country under the agreement.

There would be promotion of film weeks, presentation of new films, exchange of documentaries and other films of mutual interest.

Among the highlights of Soni’s visit were that she led a commemorative march and addressed a public rally attended by South African luminaries.

Soni was joined by South African dignitaries in leading hundreds of people to commemorate the centenary of a historic march undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi Aug 16 against an oppressive discriminatory law.

Gandhi had led a peaceful protest in South Africa against a law asking all Indians and Chinese to carry registration certificates with them, and hundreds had publicly burnt such documents following him.

“I have come on this pilgrimage for two days to say thank you for giving India its leader who led us to freedom,” Soni told the people gathered at the Hamidia Mosque.

Soni, Jordan, and African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe led hundreds in symbolically burning copies of original registration certificates in a bonfire.

“Thank you for giving us Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - not the lawyer, advocate and barrister who came to South Africa to fight the cases of the Indian community; but thank you for giving us Mahatma Gandhi.”

Soni also discussed with the South African culture minister bilateral cooperation as well as trilateral cooperation under IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) relating to arts and culture.

India, which has no pact with South Africa in the area of culture, hopes to attract more tourists from there. In 2004, a total of 32,148 South Africans travelled to India and the number went up to 39,229 the next year. In 2006, the figure was 41,954.

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