Indian Cultural Centre in Nepal in drinks rowMay 13th, 2010 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, May 13 (IANS) The newly opened Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) here, an Indian initiative to strengthen the subcontinent’s cultural ties abroad, has hit the headlines in Nepal for a different reason: a row over alcoholic beverages.
“Dispute between Bal Mandir and ICC,” the Nagarik daily said in a report Thursday.
Bal Mandir, an organisation for children, was founded nearly 40 years ago under the patronage of then queen of Nepal, Ratna, step-mother of deposed king Gyanendra.
The sprawling Bal Mandir complex, a former Rana palace, currently houses the Bal Mandir office, its home for abandoned and disabled young children, and the Nepal Association of Fine Arts, which was founded in 1965 by King Birendra.
Since last year, it also became the venue of the ICC. Started in Nepal in 2007, it is part of the 25 centres run by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) under the ministry of external affairs.
About seven months ago, the ICC was shifted to Bal Mandir from the premises of the Indian embassy after extensive construction began inside as part of the Indian government’s drive to gather diplomatic residences under one roof for greater security and cost-cutting measures.
“Liquor began to flow inside the ICC in the course of its programmes,” Bal Mandir director Rajeshwor Niraula told the Nepali daily.
“Liquor was also sold openly outside the ICC auditorium, a bad example for children.”
ICC had hosted a musical performance by a local band, Kutumba. During the show, a liquor stall was erected outside the auditorium for the audience to buy and consume alcoholic drinks.
Besides whisky, gin and wine were sold. Though Bal Mandir objected, the organisers ignored the NGO.
“It is not right to advertise or sell liquor or cigarettes inside Bal Mandir,” Niraula said. “This had never happened before. We had to lodge an objection.”
Subsequently, the authorities lodged a formal complaint with the Indian embassy.
Geeti Sen, wife of film director Muzaffar Ali, who made such acclaimed films as “Umrao Jaan”, currently heads ICC Nepal. Earlier, it was headed by officials from the Indian foreign service cadre.
The 69-year-old art historian said she did not know that liquor and cigarettes were not allowed inside Bal Mandir premises. “It was done to enhance the musical soiree,” she told the daily.
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Tags: alcoholic beverages, alcoholic drinks, formal complaint, greater security, indian embassy, indian government, indian initiative, king birendra, king gyanendra, local band, mandir, ministry of external affairs, musical performance, nepal association, organisers, patronage, ratna, seven months, step mother, subcontinent