“The focus of the seminar will be the positioning of India's culture in the global context. Culture is no longer confined to national boundaries. We want to look at culture as a means of communication in a fast-globalising community,” Suresh Goel, director-general of ICCR, told IANS.
The council was formed in 1950 by independent India's first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to promote cultural exchange with other countries. “ICCR has expanded its mandate in the last six decades,” Goel said. “It has moved from the conventional interpretation of culture as a showcase of performing arts to understanding and academic study of cultures, history and civilisations," he said.
Vice-president of India Hamid Ansari will inaugurate the 60th anniversary celebrations with a keynote address, followed by an introductory session by Suresh Goel.
The delegates will also be taken on a tour of Abul Kalam Azad's mausoleum, near Jama Masjid in old Delhi, for a commemorative service.
The discussions will begin with a session on "The Universe of Indian Culture" by historian Kapila Vatsyayan. It will be followed by a discussion on southeast Asian studies by Robert P Goldman from the University of California, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi and professor Syed Shahid Mehdi, the vice-president of ICCR, among others.
A discourse on classical Indian culture in the contemporary world will be presided by Jyotindra Jain, member secretary of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi. A panel discussion, “Popular Culture in a Globalised World”, will be presided by Lord Meghnad Desai. The speakers include Najma Heptullah, former member of parliament and filmmaker Muzaffar Ali.
Shashi Tharoor MP will preside over a discussion on the "Power and Influence of Indian Culture & Ideas", with speakers including Pawan K. Varma, author and diplomat, and Mushirul Hassan, director of National Archives of India.
It will be followed by a valedictory session and the release of a reprinted publication by ICCR on Maulana Azad at Teen Murti Auditorium. Lord Meghnad Desai will give the Maulana Azad Memorial Lecture at Teen Murti Auditorium. A special programme to mark the International Students’ Day - “Friendship Through Culture” - will be presented by foreign students receiving various ICCR scholarships.