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Editor’s Desk

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n our cover is an exclusive mélange of world diplomats from 56 countries who have been talking to us on wide-ranging subjects—from economic relations to cleaning of the Ganga, from smart cities to Make in India, from tourism opportunities to cutting edge scientific cooperation. The Chinese Ambassador H.E. Mr Luo Zhaohui, for instance, has witnessed a strong momentum in investment projects as firms from his country have actively responded to Make in India even as Indian firms have continued to expand their presence in China. Ms MaryKay Loss Carlson, Chargé d’ Affaires at the US Embassy in India has outlined that India’s Smart Cities initiative is an important component of a range of programmes of mutual interest between the USA and India. Ambassador of the Netherlands H.E. Mr Alphonsus Stoelinga likewise says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives such as Clean Ganga Mission and Smart Cities Project offer plenty of opportunities for Dutch companies that are active in water management and urban planning. Mongolian Ambassador H.E. Mr Gonchig Ganbold sums up his world views succinctly when he says that the “destinies of the East and the West are no longer closed systems. In every one of us there is an East and a West…a beyond where the sun rises, a dimension of hope.” Israeli Ambassador H.E. Mr Daniel Carmon throws up a pertinent point when he says that cooperation in counter-terrorism is an important ingredient in Indo-Israeli bilateral relationships as both nations have similar challenges. Vietnamese Ambassador H.E. Mr Ton Sinh Thanh acknowledges that India has remained a traditional friend, one that has stood by Vietnam in times of difficulty. According to H.E. Mr Hamed Saif Al-Rawahi, Ambassador of Oman, ties with India that have been cordial for centuries have been further consolidated with greater engagement both in business and defence. Bangladesh High Commissioner H.E. Mr Syed Muazzem Ali notes happily that the two neighbors have been able to strengthen and consolidate friendly bilateral relations under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and PM Modi. Peruvian Ambassador H.E. Mr Jorge Juan Castaneda Mendez speaks of the diversity in his country that is rich in natural resources and one that offers major investment opportunities for Indian investors, particularly in agri-business and mining. Ambassador of the Czech Republic H.E. Mr Milan Hovorka is upbeat about the unprecedented interest shown by Indians to travel and discover the charms of his nation. Tunisian Ambassador Mr Nejmeddine Lakhal outlines the several success stories of Indian firms in Tunisia, and the host of incentives available to foreign investors to do business, transfer funds, and benefit from lower tax rates. High Commissioner of Zambia H.E. Mrs Judith K K Kan’goma-Kapijimpanga speaks about the Indian Government’s mission to develop 100 smart towns as satellites of larger cities. Zimbabwean Ambassador H.E. Mr Maxwell Ranga speaks of opportunities in tourism in his nation, and the great potential for employment generation. Ukrainian Ambassador H.E. Dr Igor Polikha remains hopeful that Ukraine and India are entering a new stage of interaction in the joint implementation of large-scale economic projects. Danish Ambassador H.E. Mr Peter Taksøe-Jensen tells us that the number of visas issued to Indians has gone up 25 per cent in recent times with Denmark offering opportunities to hop between hundreds of small islands. And, of course, there are several others that have aired their views. I hope you have a nice time navigating through our pages, and reading through all the sections, including our event coverage. Thank you.

Sayantan Chakravarty (sayantanc@gmail.com)

India-Diplomatic, Business, Diaspora and Political Connectivity

iNDiA

empire Volume 13 No. 11 April 2018 www.indiaempire.com RNI No.: DELENG/2005/16693

GLOBAL ADVISORY BOARD Mr Inder Singh, Dr Rami Ranger, Dr Kamalanathan Sappani, Mr Mridul Pathak, Ms Priya Tandon Editor Sayantan Chakravarty Consulting Editor Yogesh Sood (Business and Commerce) Sipra Das (Photography) Kul Bhushan Jayant Borkar (Mumbai Affairs) Sanjay Sharma (BJP Affairs) Paras Ramoutar (Caribbean Affairs) Vishnu Bisram (New York) Premchand Ramlochun (Mauritius) Liladhar J. Bharadia (Kenya) Jay Banerjei (Toronto) Head—Art and Print Jaydev Bisht Additional Contributions From Gonchig GANBOLD Registered Office: N-126, II Floor, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi - 110 048. Contact: +91.11.2923.3647, +91.11.2923.1515. Our Associate Offices: Hyderabad: Abhijit Bhattacharjee, Tel: +91.9848033874. Mauritius: 28, Cnr. Jasmins and Lataniers Avenue Résidence Sunsetville, La Caverne, Vacoas 73310 Republic of Mauritius Trinidad and Tobago: 61 Main Road, Caparo, Trinidad, W.I. Canada: Suite 209 885 Progess Ave, Toronto, ON M1H G3G Canada New York: 260, Madison Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10016 ADVERTISEMENT AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Email: contactindiaempire@gmail.com info@indiaempire.com sales@indiaempire.com M: +91.9899117477, +91.98116.27971, +91.9953824095 Printed, published, owned by Sayantan Chakravarty. Editor is Sayantan Chakravarty. Published from N -126, II Floor, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi 110 048, INDIA. Printed at Archana Advertising Pvt. Ltd., C-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Ph-1, New Delhi 110020. All rights reserved throughout the world. Any kind of reproduction in any media is prohibited. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of courts in Delhi.

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Sayantan Chakravarty is in a select group of 12 writers chosen by Scholastic Education to promote advanced English literature for schools worldwide. Included in the group are Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats, R K Narayan (Padma Vibushan and Sahitya Award winner), journalist and poet Walt Whitman, writer Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), poet Nissim Ezekiel (Sahitya Akademi Awardee), writer Jerome K Jerome (author of Three Men in a Boat), poet Edward Lear, Roald Dahl (16th on Time Magazine’s list of greatest British writers). Sayantan Chakravarty’s stories featured in Best of Indian Express of 25 years and among select stories in Best of India Today’s 25 years.


photo gallery pictures Š sipra das

LEGISLATURE

BJP President Mr Amit Shah with Nonagenarian Lawyer and MP Mr Ram Jethmalani

Mr Nitish Bharadwaj, a former MP best known for his portrayal of Lord Krishna in B R Chopra’s TV series Mahabharat, alongside Ms Roopa Ganguly, MP who essayed the role of Draupadi in the same series

Mr Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, outside Parliament

Deputy Chief Minister in the Delhi Government Mr Manish Sisodia speaks during the Budget session of the Delhi Assembly. Chief Secretary Mr Anshu Prakash is seen in the picture

april 2018 | india empire 19


photo gallery pictures Š sipra das

PADMA AWARDS

Celebrated cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni in military attire receives the Padma Bhushan from Indian President Mr Ram Nath Kovind

Nonagenarian painter Mr Laxman Pai receives the Padma Bhushan from President of India Mr Ram Nath Kovind

Star cueist Pankaj Advani receives the Padma Bhushan from Indian President Mr Ram Nath Kovind 28 india empire | april 2018

Herpetologist and wildlife conservationist Mr Romulus Earl Whitaker receives the Padma Shri from President Kovind


mongolia

“GURU-ENVOY” By G. Ganbold, Ambassador in memory of Kushok Bakula Pinpoche

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arly the 1980s the Mongolian government set forth task to re-invigorate its relations with India with whom Mongolians enjoy age long multifaceted ties. With decision at highest level to broaden then existing relations to political, cultural, trade and economic areas concerted efforts were made. Series of highly powered exchanges implemented including the visits by Their Excellencies J. Batmunkh, Chairman of the Presidium of the People’s Great Khural, Mr. P. Ochirbat, N. Baganbandi, President of Mongolia, Dr. R. Gonchigdorj and Dr.S. Tumur-Ochir, Speaker of the State Great Khural to India which was reciprocated by Honourable Shankar Dayal Sharma, K.R.Naraynan, Krishan Kant, Vice President and the Chairman of Rajya Sabha of India, Honourable P.A.Sangma, Shivraj Patel, Dr.Najma Heptullah, Speaker of Lok Sabha. Not only their pace but also talks held and documents concluded during these visits substantively expanded their collaboration in content and scope to great extent. Looking retrospectively, the one event occurred around this time. India sought after agre’me for Buddhist monk of over seventy, who spent years as member of state assembly and national parliament and Minority Commission for an appointment as its ambassador to Mongolia. Even MEA then was not well aware of this agre’me made it more curious. However, it could have indicated the priority given by high authorities of India to his assignment. Honestly, this assignment provoked varying barbs given nominee’s background with no experience in diplomacy and doubts whether he could manage to represent his country abroad. Someone even retorted, Mongolia is tranquil, tiny place, where missions might not have many work if there is anyone then other officers at the embassy do it for him, so he would be free to engage with his monastic deeds. However, not long after it became known that newly minted ambassador was not inactive and silent one who sits ideal. Even the period did not allow him such lavishness. Though climate and living conditions were not so comfortable seasoned politician who went through government’s routine chore had started working vigorously. Thus, his two years’ assignment extended and he painstakingly continued working over 10 odd years as Indian Ambassador in Mongolia. Ambassador’s assignment had started indeed in not so smooth situation. Parliamentary election had just been announced in India, and since his was a political appointment,

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Rinpoche naturally felt it was important for him to wait for the formation of the new government. After all, there would be little point in taking up the post, if the appointment was reversed soon after. So he decided to delay his departure. And in fact the outcome of the election was a big upset for the Indian National Congress with whom Rinpoche had been aligned for many years. In their place, a new coalition led by Janata Party assumed power and former opposition leaders became Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. However, his appointment was re-confirmed by the new leadership and he was asked to proceed to Ulaanbaatar without delay. But his apprehensions before the election were not unreasonable. In fact, several other recent ambassadorial appointees chosen by previous regime were recalled by the new government in New Delhi. In the year of white Horse on December 31, 1989, on chilly but sunny day Rinpoche arrived at Ulaanbaatar. He was welcomed by many people from Gandantegchelin monastery, the Asian Buddhists Conference for Peace (ABCP) headquarters and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Mongolia. By the way, India was the first ever country outside the non socialist block recognized and established diplomatic relations with Mongolia on December 24, 1955 and firmly supported her membership to United Nations in 1961. Bakula Rinpoche took charge as Indian Ambassador on January 3, 1990 and two days later on January 5, 1990 he called on Mr. Ts. Gombosuren, Foreign Minister and later that same day he presented his credentials to H.E. Mr. J. Batmunkh, Chairman of the Presidium of the People’s Great Khural. This was unusual breach of protocol as the host government in normal circumstances would only accept credentials after a month or so. There was great deal of curiosity and interest in his appointment in the country. This was evident when he met the ministers and senior officials of the Government of Mongolia for the first time as ambassador. Never before in their life had they interacted with a senior reincarnated Buddhist monk, let alone one who was serving as ambassador of a foreign country. For many ordinary Buddhists in the country, Rinpoche’s appointment was a matter of tremendous excitement. They were so pleased to find Bakula Rinpoche was now living in their midst. For some, it called to mind that long-forgotten prophecy made in the late 19th century, about the coming of Arhat Bakula to Mongolia. You might know Arhad means initial sixteen disciples of Lord


Buddha. And Kushok Bakula was 19th reincarnation of one of them, who is depicted as holding mongoose. Mr. Ts. Gombosuren, who was considered a liberal and who ably implemented Mongolia’s foreign policy in those critical days wrote in one of his articles, “When Bakula Rinpoche finally came to Mongolia as India’s Ambassador, we were keen that he presented his credentials as soon as possible. In our first meeting, we exchanged views on internal situation of our countries, development of bilateral relations and other issues. Rinpoche expressed his views on policy matters and the purposes underlying them. He could sense a major transformation taking place in Mongolia. These were words of a genuine and a far-sighted statesman, who wanted to inspire and encourage us. There was no mention of ‘religion’ but behind the words ‘history and culture’ he obviously meant that Buddhism must be restored. Seven months later, the first ever democratic and free elections were held in Mongolia. Thus, in a way, Ambassador Bakula Rinpoche had predicted the future of our country. Some ‘conscious’ men even suggested to ‘send back’ the Indian Ambassador. But His Holiness enjoyed tremendous respect and support among people who felt proud of their national history and culture. In more recent times some important steps were taken to promote bilateral relations between our two countries and one could clearly see the role and tremendous contributions made in this regard by Ambassador Bakula Rinpoche. This is a common assessment of many individuals, which I fully endorse.” At that time there was no apparent sense of impending crisis. As protocol, the Armed Force of Mongolia presented a

guard of honour to salute for Rinpoche, as it did for all new ambassadors. There was a certain irony in the scene: there was a military show of communist army presenting itself as a guard of honour to a Buddhist monk ambassador. In the customary short speech following the ceremony at the presidential palace, Ambassador Kushok Bakula, as if pre-empting the momentous changes that would soon sweep the country, mentioned that ‘’the Lord Buddha, whose teachings spread to the Mongolian steppes in the 13th century was the first Indian envoy to Mongolia’’. Rinpoche spoke these words at a time when there was no freedom of faith, freedom of speech and freedom of association, not to mention of different political thoughts. In Mongolia India is known by the name ‘Jagar’, which affectionately means the saphed (white) or pavitr bhoomi (sacred land), and many people in Mongolia genuinely consider India as their brothers in civilization and Third neighbour. Shortly thereafter with the disintegration of the USSR and socialist block and fall of the Berlin wall, and the economic liberalization going on in China changes began to sweep through the steppes of Mongolia. Within weeks, popular reform demonstrations started as ordinary and young people in particular started taking to the streets despite early spring windy weather waved throughout Mongolia. Transformations in Mongolia were peaceful. Not a single bullet was fired, no window pane shattered. The leadership of the country firmly opposed any such move, maintaining strict policy of non use of force and stood for amicable resolution of conflict to bring about smooth transition to democracy. Rinpoche was always held by them in high esteem and relayed the prevailing sit-

april 2018 | india empire 33


mongolia

uation in the country timely and precisely to his government. At the result of efforts and initiatives by Ambassador Bakula the government of India launched training programme for nurturing national personnel (well known as IETC) in various disciplines highly essential for Mongolian human resource development. Ever since then three decades have elapsed and number of Mongolians trained and studied in India today must have amounted at hundreds if not thousands. India also helped to set up cyber-centers at five provinces to facilitate the delivery of government services in remote areas and empowering local administration, offered soft-loan for constructing a small scale cement plant in Khovd province and workshops for producing traditional medicine. Over the years Bakula Rinpoche extensively travelled the length and breadth of Mongolia often for days and weeks, staying among the common people in their ghers(traditional dwelling). Their interactions helped him develop a genuine personal rapport with ordinary Mongolian people. He played a major role in maintaining peace and tranquility in the country these critical period of transition. Thus, he used to be revered as Envoy and Guru amongst Mongolians. While fellow diplomats and foreigners posted in Ulaanbaatar were often itching to get out of Mongolia, Bakula Rinpoche was entirely at ease there. His personal needs were minimal like a true Bodhisattva, he never abandoned his chosen people and was content to remain in the country, despite the numerous hardships, right from severe climatic condition up to scarcity of electricity and running water. As the largest democracy in the world in which by and large 550 million voters casted their ballots in the 2014 national elections India closely followed Mongolia’s transition towards political pluralism and helped in every way. When Mongolia had first-ever multiparty elections on July 29, 1990 India along with other countries sent its observers so as Ambassador Bakula himself visited some polling stations to get acquainted with voters casting their ballots. Drafting the first democratic constitution Mongolia invited Asian parliamentarians and constitution experts for the Inter-

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national Conference in which contingent of different political parties of India actively took part in it. So when the Peoples Great Khural (constitutional Assembly) of Mongolia approved it in 1992 Rinpoche represented India who supported Mongolia’s democratic changes from the very beginning. Mongolia was the first country in Asia that opted for socialism and also was the first to abandon it. Rectifying errors after seven decades is long awaited but useful experience. I think Ambassador Bakula played unique and substantive role in Mongolia’s transition to political democracy and free market system, which should hold unprecedented place in her history and peaceful transformation. In these years he tactfully combined his formal position as Indian Ambassador with his more prominent status as spiritual master and guide whose sage advice and calming presence was a boon for the country at a time of particular uncertainty and insecurity. At the time as the highest-ranking Buddhist monk, who is only reincarnated lama he offered guidance to the nascent monastic communities and ordinary believers in the country in those crucial years. Many in high positions of government used to hear him. Ambassador Kushok Bakula Rinpoche was bestowed by the Mongolian government with one of its highest award “Polar Star” for his remarkable endeavour in reviving the abandoned monasteries, educating new generation of religious figures and encouraging chronically subjugated national culture, which enormously helped Mongolia to revive her national identity and pride. On the solemn occasion of centenary celebration of Ambassador Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, the democratic Mongolia with deep gratitude recalls his inputs in building up requisites for rapid growth of her bilateral relations with India in a new ❐ circumstance. This article based on Sonam Wangchuk Shakspo’s a book titled “Kushok Bakula Rinpoche: The Architect of Modern Ladakh” —The author is Ambassador of Mongolia in India. He studied in Ulaanbaatar, New Delhi, Moscow, Oxford, Geneva, Hawaii and Munich. In 1980, he joined Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and served as Desk Officer, Counsellor, Deputy Head of Department. He has worked with Mongolia Embassies in New Delhi (1988-1991 and 1996-2000), Washington D.C, London, as well as Ministry of Finance and National Security Council. He has been Director for Multilateral Cooperation Department, MFA (July 2013-August 2015) in Mongolia. He presented his Letters of Credence to the President of India on 2 September, 2015. He speaks Hindi, English and Russian. He is married and has two sons, two grandchildren. He is a Member of Delhi Press Club and awardee of the India Empire magazine. He has contributed articles to media, translated nearly two dozen books.


FocUs on BUlgaria—political-BUsiness intervieW

INTErvIEw wITH H.E. Mr ALEKsANDEr MANoLEv, DEPuTy MINIsTEr of ECoNoMy, rEPuBLIC of BuLGArIA

“Our growth rate has been almost double the EU average” H.E. Mr Aleksander Manolev, Deputy Minister of Economy in Bulgaria, spoke to India Empire’s Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty on the sidelines of the 4th India-Europe 29 Business Forum organized jointly by the Ministry of External Affairs and FICCI in March 2018 How, according to you, did the Bulgarian economy perform in 2017? Well, our economy remained strong with the country being in the top five among Euro economies. We kept a high growth rate of our economy of around 4 per cent which is almost double the EU average. We are expecting 4 per cent in 2018 as well. We have also been seeing a positive growth rate of exports—a major driver of growth. In 2017 we achieved a record level of Bulgarian exports which has been growing at 12 per cent. Our unemployment is just below 7 per cent. Inflation is very low at around 2 per cent. Bulgaria’s budget deficit and public debt is very low. We are the second least indebted economies in Europe. Based on our economic performances the three leading credit rating agencies—Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch Ratings Inc.— have given a good credit rating and stable outlook for Bulgaria. They have been improving our credit rating for the past several years since our economy has been performing strongly over the past six to seven consecutive years. Which are the fastest growing sectors of the Bulgarian economy? We put special emphasis on capital intensive and innovation driven industries so that they create high value addition. That contributes to competitiveness of our economy as a whole. ICT, IT outsourcing, automotive are sectors that are developing very fast. Electronics, machinery, chemicals and pharmaceuticals have performed very well in the past few years. The ICT sector, in particular, is the fastest growing sector in South East Europe with more than 17,000 specialists which as a percentage of the total population in our country is a large number. We have more than 4,000 graduates in the ICT sector each year. It is the fastest growing segment of our GDP, followed by the automotive segment. The biggest automotive MNCs and financial investors are present in Bulgaria. We produce parts for most the car makers. Statistically, nine in 10 cars that are on the roads today have parts produced in Bulgaria. The other sec-

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tors that are doing well include the more traditional ones like agriculture and food processing, sectors in which we have a long-standing experience. What does Bulgaria offer to foreign investors? What are the advantages that make your country attractive for foreign investors? We have the most favorable tax regime in Europe with the lowest taxes—10 per cent corporate tax, 10 per cent flat rate for personal income. We have very good pricing for resources compared to other EU nations. So statistically, Bulgaria is the market with the lowest operating cost of production. For investors that are planning to move production, or start a new production, Bulgaria would be one of the favorite places to invest. We at the ministry are putting in a lot of efforts for companies to register. It does not matter whether they are foreign companies or Bulgarian. Once they register they become eligible to apply for EU funds. We have a lot of EU funds coming to Bulgaria. For companies to invest in innovation, improve their competitiveness, their infrastructure, HRD, administration services and many others, we are running state-owned industrial zones. We have a national company for industrial zones that has just recently signed a MoU with FICCI. Are Indian companies interested in investing in Bulgaria? In which sectors? We have a good presence of Indian companies in Bulgaria that are invested and operational. Most of them, in fact, are planning to expand their investments. The major sectors are IT, IT-outsourcing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals. Are there Bulgarian companies, currently operating in India? In which sectors? Are there new projects in the pipeline? There are new projects for both sides, i.e. Indian firms in Bulgaria and vice versa. I cannot disclose more because companies are very sensitive about investment and public-


H.E. Mr Aleksander Manolev, Deputy Minister of Economy, Republic of Bulgaria

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FocUs on BUlgaria—political-BUsiness intervieW

H.E. Mr Aleksander Manolev, Deputy Minister of Economy, Republic of Bulgaria and H.E. Mr Petko Doykov, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to India exchange notes during the meeting at FICCI in March 2018

ity. We have Bulgarian firms in India in IT, pharmaceuticals, veterinary pharmaceuticals, energy. One of the most successful companies is in IT. They are the fastest growing internet provider in Delhi with more than 800 employees. Another company called Green Zone has a very good project near Patna, Bihar, where they are installing a 500 mw solar energy plant. We also have a few partnerships and JVs going. One Bulgarian company has invested in a factory for packaging bitumen, and has become the largest of its kind in Asia. The firm is based out of Mumbai. Another company has a JV with a Pune-based industry in veterinary pharmaceuticals and is one of the biggest of its kind. Another company has a very interesting project that helps various police departments to receive signals when a crime takes place. This application sends signals with face recognitions and enables police to quickly start investigating the actual crime. They have signed contracts with several police departments. Bulgaria took the EU Presidency on the 1st of January 2018. What are the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency? The first priority is a financial framework after 2020, this is decision of EU. The second is really to provide a tangible European perspective for the Western Balkans. The third is security of EU citizens. The fourth is competitive-

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Mr Manolev addressing the business meet at FICCI

ness, a digital single market, promotion of entrepreneurship and social innovation. To sum up, better cohesion, Western Balkans’ security, and competitiveness are the key areas. â??


colUmn By Bangladesh high commissioner

Bangla Nobo Borsho (Bengali Calendar) and its celebration in Bangladesh By syed Muazzem ali

B

angladesh celebrated the Pahela Baisakh-1425 on 14 April 2018. To join the nation in the celebration, Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi also celebrated the Pahela Baisakh amid gaiety. A symbolic Mangal Shobhajatra and a mesmerizing display of dance and music marked the celebration of Pahela Baisakh. Pahela Baisakh, the first day of Bengali New Year, is one of the most cheerful and colorful festivals of Bangladesh showcasing the vivid colors in the lives of its people. In Bangladesh, the day is always observed on 14 April of the Gregorian calendar, with vibrant and festive programs throughout the country. Traditionally, Bangalees have been celebrating the day by wearing colorful traditional dresses, congregating at fairs having traditional meals of rice and fish. The Bangla calendar, as it appears from historical records, was codified by Mughal Emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century, primarily on the basis of our harvesting cycle to facilitate payment of land revenue by our peasants. Earlier, the Mughals were collecting taxes on the basis of the lunar Islamic Hijri calendar but it did not coincide with the solar agriculture cycles. Thus, the peasants were not always in a position to pay the taxes. So Akbar asked his royal astronomer Fatullah Shirazi to create a new calendar by combining the lunar hijri calendar with the indigenous solar calendar with a view to determining the best time to tax the peasants. Shirazi came up with this compromise solution called “Fashali Shons” (harvesting cycle) and it was implemented in 1548 AD, but was predated to 1556 as Akbar had ascended the throne that year. Some researchers, however, argue that King Shashanka had introduced the Bengali calendar during his reign from 600-625 AD and had named it Bangabdo, and Shiraji had merely updated it by combining it with the lunar calendar. When the British colonialists took over Bengal, they introduced the Gregorian calendar for all official business, but did not disturb the method of collection of land revenue on the basis of Bangla calendar. Our traders always maintained their accounts on the basis of the Bangla calendar and they open new accounts or “hal khata” on Pahela Baisakh. After partition, the then Pakistan government continued with the British practice of maintaining all official business on the basis of Gregorian calendar but the financial year was changed to the period first of July to thirtieth June. 44 india empire | april 2018

High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali welcoming the guests

Madam Tuhfa Zaman Ali delivering her words of appreciation

They discouraged celebration of Bengali calendar by dubbing it as a Hindu tradition. Nevertheless, the traders and peasants continued to follow the Bengali calendar. After the Language Movement, the Bengalis made a de-


LEFT: Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi celebrated the Bengali New Year with a colorful cultural Program. RIGHT: Performance by “Srishti” cultural trope from Bangladesh on the occasion of Pahela Baisakh at the Prabasi Bharatiya Kendra, New Delhi organized by Bangladesh High Commission

LEFT: A colorful rendition of traditional dance. RIGHT: Traditional Mangal Shobhajatra on the street of Dhaka by students of the faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University

termined move to uphold their language and cultural tradition and started observing the day through various cultural events. The prominent cultural group “Chhayanaut” took the initiative to institutionalize our celebration by organizing a musical program at the dawn of Pahela Baishakh where they presented an array of Tagore, Nazrul and folk songs depicting the significance of the day. This cultural program which formally started in 1967 became the centerpiece of our cultural functions. Since the Bengali Calendar was based on solar Calendar, there were some practical difficulties, as the days in each Bangla month had varied from year to year. That problem was resolved in 1966, when the solar-based Bengali calendar was modified by a Bangla academy committee under the stewardship of celebrated scholar Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah. The Committee had made important adjustments on the basis of some astronomical facts. Consequently in Bangladesh, Bangla New year is now celebrated every year on 14 April. After the independence of Bangladesh, Baishakhi celebration started getting the state patronage. The morning program initiated by Chhayanaut in Ramna Park has further expanded and is more colourful. What had started with

nearly two dozen people, has now expanded to include hundreds of singers and reciters dressed in colorful dresses. Side by side, dozens of cultural groups are organizing musical programs all over the country. In 1989, the students of the faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University revived the old tradition of bringing out procession to celebrate the day. Initially, it was called “Ananda Shobhajatra” (Fun procession) but subsequently, it was renamed as “Mangal Shobhajatra” which literally means “procession of well-being”. The procession, a cultural heritage, is deeply rooted in the Bengali tradition of making clay dolls, pots, and other decorative pieces. It is said that “Charupeethh”, a cultural organization, had first organized the procession in Jessore in 1985. The UNESCO recognized “Mangal Shobhajatra” as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. This declaration has added a new depth and dimension to our Baisakhi celebration. Pahela Baishakh is now celebrated all over Bangladesh with gaiety and fanfare. It is a celebration across all faiths, castes, classes, creeds, genders, or ages, which strengthens the secular identity of Bangladesh. ❐ —The author is Bangladesh High Commissioner to India and the views expressed herein are his personal. april 2018 | india empire 45


Diplomatic News PERU

ECUADOR

UNVEILING OF 4 PERUVIAN COOKBOOKS Peruvian cuisine can be summarized as a fusion of flavors, starting from pre-Columbian and Inca-Quechua times, which has also received substantive contributions through-out the centuries, from Spanish-Moorish, African, Chinese, Italian and Japanese cuisines, giving it a touch of distinction and prominence within the world’s most renowned cuisines, such as the French, Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Japanese and Thai. However, it should be noted that the originality of Peruvian food does not rest solely on the adaptation of exogenous cultures and on the culinary customs and infusions mentioned above, but continues to incorporate new influences from other countries, producing exquisite and impeccable new dishes that continue enriching Peruvian cuisine. Peru has consistently been recognized as the World's Best Culinary Destination for six consecutive years, including this year, at the prestigious World Travel Awards, considered by many to be the Oscars of the tourism sector. This recognition, placing Peru over and above other international gastronomic giants like France, Italy and even India, is a source of much pride for our country. In an effort to introduce India to the diversity of our Peruvian cuisine, the Embassy of Peru in India has published four cookbooks which include some of its emblematic dishes using kitchen staples like potatoes, corn, rice, fish and poultry products.

FACES OF AFRO-ECUADORIANITY At the opening ceremony of the photographic exhibition entitled Faces of Afro-Ecuadorianity was held in early April at the auditorium of the Cervantes Institute in New Delhi. The Ecuadorian photographer of the exhibition Mr. Freddy Cevallos was also present on the occasion. The exhibition remained open to the public until April 17, 2018. The event was attended by Ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in India, as well as students and the general public, who had the opportunity to learn more about the ethnic diversity of Ecuador. Dr. Patricio Garcés Ramírez, the Chargé d’ Affaires a.i., in his speech highlighted the main characteristics of the Afro-Ecuadorian people, as well as their contributions for the consolidation of the Ecuadorian nation. On this occasion, Dr. Garces also highlighted the breakthrough advancements incorporated into Ecuadorian legislation in 1998, when constitutional rights were established. He also drew attention towards the earnest efforts of the National Government to comply with the mandates of the United Nations and other legal bodies of international law of which Ecuador is a signatory. It is worth mentioning that during the opening ceremony, the Ambassador of Nigeria, General (retd) Chris Eze, said a few touching words of thanks to the Embassy and to Ecuador for the realization of this type of events that recognize and make the African diaspora more visible. In this way the Embassy of Ecuador in India paid tribute to the Afro Ecuadorian people, who have been living in Ecuador for nearly five centuries and have played an important role in the development of our nation.

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pictures By: sipra das

uNIoN MINIsTErs INTErvIEwED By

Mr Dharmendra Pradhan When Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

Mr Ananth Kumar Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers

Mr Anant Gangaram Geete Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises

Mr Chaudhary Birender Singh Minister for Steel

Ms Smriti Irani When Minister for Human Resource Development

Mr Radha Mohan Singh Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

Mr Narendra Singh Tomar When Minister for Steel and Mines

Mr Ram Vilas Paswan Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

Ms Uma Bharti When Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

Mr Thawar Chand Gehlot Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment

Mrs Sushma Swaraj Minister for External Affairs and Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs

(May 2014 onwards)

Mr Shripad Y Naik Minister of State (IC), AYUSH

Mr Babul Supriyo Mr VIjay Goel Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy Minister of State for Heavy (Ex) Union Minister of State for When Minister of State (IC) for Industries and Public Enterprises Skill Development and Youth Affairs and Sports Entrepreneurship (IC)


India empire april 2018  
India empire april 2018  
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