India to open 16 new culture centres to project soft power

October 2nd, 2009 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Riding on the soaring popularity of yoga and Bollywood, India is poised to nearly double its network of cultural centres across the globe in places as diverse as the US, Africa and Latin America.
The opening of new cultural centres is an important initiative in cultural diplomacy to achieve range and depth of cultural coverage, said Karan Singh, president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), here Friday.

“They make a statement about a resurgent and dynamic India. In culture, India is a superpower,” Karan Singh said after he formally inaugurated two cultural centres at Bangkok and Tokyo this week.

The ICCR will also formally open cultural centres in Dhaka, Jakarta and Abu Dhabi in the next three months, said a statement from ICCR.

The opening of new cultural centres is driven by India’s thrust on projecting its soft power.

“The additional funds released by the government are for a better projection of India as a soft power. There were 24 cultural centres overseas in 21 countries which would be taken to 40 within the next two years,” said Virender Gupta, director general, ICCR.

Expanding cultural connectivity in SAARC region is also a priority, said Gupta.

“The ICCR has identified a property in Bhutan and has made a proposal in Myanmar where the government is very supportive,” he said. “We have great desire to set up a cultural centre in Pakistan in the medium term.”

The ICCR has also identified a property in Washington for setting up its first cultural centre in the US, home to over three million-strong diaspora.

With India’s ties with Africa and Latin America on an upswing, ICCR will also be opening new cultural centres in Nigeria, Tanzania and Brazil.

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