Soft power brings countries together: Ambika Soni

April 5th, 2008 - 6:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni

Singapore, April 5 (IANS) As Indian drummers and dancers wooed the audiences here, Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni said Saturday it is soft power that brings nations together. Speaking at the inauguration of a vibrant display of Indian arts and culture as part of the Incredible India @ 60 campaign, the minister said India recognises the important role of Singapore in its relations with ASEAN.

Keeping these relations in mind, she said, it was a natural choice for them to bring the successful campaign to the city-state. The campaign, jointly organised by the ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was taken to New York during September last year.

And as the city-state was now transformed into mini-India for three days, she said: “it is the soft power that brings nations together.”

Lauding the partnership of the government and CII for the event, the minister said 75 artistes from all over India, including craftsmen and folk artists had come to Singapore.

“Singapore’s multiculturalism, pluralism and secularism resonated with India’s own ethos and had helped in the growing ties between the two countries. The two countries are also cooperating in the revival of Nalanda University,” she stressed.

Nalanda is an ancient university in Bihar, which was a Buddhist centre of learning.

Also present at the event, being held at the Orchard Road’s Plaza Singapura, a shopping and entertainment hub of Singapore, were CII President Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Group that runs India’s biggest mobile phone service, and top Indian CEOs.

The area resonated with the rhythmic beating of different kinds of drums, while the colourful costumes and graceful gestures captivated audiences.

A variety of traditional folk dances are being presented to enthralled spectators, ranging from Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to the graceful Bihu dance from Assam.

Drums and rhythm are specially represented at the event, including vigorous Pung Cholom and Dhol Cholom from Manipur, energetic Sambalpuri drummers from Orissa, and the Karagam dance of Tamil Nadu which also features women balancing pots on their heads while dancing.

Singapore’s Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said the event would help Singapore experience ’snapshots of India’s rich and diverse cultural creativity’ and build cultural understanding.

“India’s heritage reaches beyond the Asian region and is truly international,” he said.

Appreciating Indian support for the arts and cultural life in Singapore, he referred to the exhibition “Nalanda Trail” which is currently underway in the city with rare loans from the Indian government.

“India and Singapore cultural exchanges and engagements add colour and diversity to our arts cultural scene and enhance understanding of each other’s arts, culture and heritage,” he said.

Indian High Commissioner to Singapore S. Jaishankar said the event showcases India’s cultural heritage.

“Orchard Road is the crossroads of Singapore, and Singapore is the crossroads of the world,” he added.

India’s engagement with the world can best be showcased in a global city like Singapore, he added.

The event plans to bring India’s vast and diverse folk traditions to the city-nation.

In all, 13 dance troupes are performing at the venue, a multi-hued representation of India’s diverse and rich folk art traditions that is mesmerizing Singapore.

“Explore Rural India”, a joint initiative of the ministry of tourism and culture and the United Nations Development Fund to integrate rural tourism with Indian cultural traditions, was also showcased at the venue.

A photo exhibition on glimpses of India is also part of the Incredible India@60 at Orchard Road.

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