India/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Major programmes of multilateral co- operation and monitoring international treaties

(i.e. UNESCO, ASEAN, OAS, etc.)

India became a signatory to the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in the year 2007. A major thrust of this convention was to re-enforce the sovereign right of the states to formulate cultural policies as a means to protect ‘national’ cultures and cultural industries. A series of seminars and consultations were followed by the setting up of a national committee on cultural policy by the Ministry of Culture to debate the idea of legislating a national culture.

The committee consisted of politicians, bureaucrats and other eminent persons from the field of art and academia. Many of the members of the panel spoke out openly against the formulation of a national cultural policy sighting the dangers of homogenisation in a diverse country like India and the paralysing effects of classifying art forms[1],[2]. Other aspects - such as the difficulty of developing a cultural policy that will have to be implemented by various ministries involved in administration of culture in India - were also raised. The panel finally decided against the formulation of a National Culture Policy.

Section 3.4.2 has listed the many regional forums of which India is a part. This section further elaborates their role:

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF): Set up in 1993, at present ARF has 27 member states. These include the 10 ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; the 10 ASEAN Dialogue Partners – Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and United States; and 7 other countries, namely, Bangladesh, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Sri Lanka. India became a member of the ARF in 1996 in consistence with the ‘Look East’ policy, an increasing engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, and development of closer links with the ASEAN as a full-dialogue partner.

Andean Community: The regional integration in the Andean countries began with the signature of the Cartagena Agreement in 1969. In June 2003, India and the Andean Community established a Political Dialogue and Co-operation Mechanism for the purpose of strengthening and deepening their friendship, understanding and co-operation and developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations and promoting cultural and scientific exchanges.

BRICS: The BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] idea was first conceived in 2001 by Goldman Sachs as part of an economic modeling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century. It subsequently added South Africa. BRICS plan is to strengthen co-operation among its member countries in areas of security, finance, business links, agriculture, health, culture, sports, science and technology and green economy.

Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA): CICA is a forum aimed at enhancing co-operation through elaborating multilateral approaches towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. CICA was established at the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan, outlined at the 47th United Nations General Assembly in 1992. It currently has 24 members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Republic of Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. India has been a member right since CICA's inception. Concept Papers and Action Plans have been developed and adopted on several subjects such as energy security, transport corridors, information technology, small and medium enterprises, tourism and human dimension.

Commonwealth: India is the largest member state of the Commonwealth, with nearly 60% of the total population of the association.

East African Community (EAC): The EAC is the regional intergovernmental organisation of the Republic of Kenya, Republic of Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Rwanda and Republic of Burundi with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community was signed on 30 November 1999 and entered into force on 7 July 2000 following its ratification by the original three Partner States – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. India’s High Commissioner in Tanzania is concurrently accredited to the EAC. The Secretary General of EAC visited India in November 2010, during which time tourism was identified as an area of co-operation, among others.

East Asia Summit (EAS): The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad. The final report of the East Asian Study Group in 2002, established by the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) countries, recommended an EAS as an ASEAN-led development limited to the APT countries. The 10th ASEAN Summit was held in Vientiane on 29 November 2004, and the first EAS in Malaysia in 2005. India has actively contributed to discussions at EAS. At the 6th EAS held in Bali, Indonesia on 19 November 2011, the leaders adopted two Declarations, namely the Declaration of the East Asia Summit on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations and the Declaration of the 6th East Asia Summit on ASEAN Connectivity. The EAS Declaration on ASEAN Connectivity supports co-operation between ASEAN and its EAS partners on physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity, in particular those relating to education, human resource development, innovation & entrepreneurship, cultural exchanges and tourism.

G-20: The Group of Twenty, or G20, is the premier forum for international co-operation on the most important aspects of the international economic and financial agenda. It brings together the world’s major advanced and emerging economies. The G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, UK and USA. The G20 countries together represent around 90% of global GDP, 80% of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population. Apart from economic stabilisation, tourism, sustainable development, green growth and the fight against climate change have been recent concerns.

India-European Union Relations: India-EU relations go back to the early 1960s. India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the (then) European Economic Community (EEC). Subsequently, co-operation between EU and India took bilateral relations well beyond trade and economic co-operation to strengthening dialogue and consultation mechanisms, deepening political dialogue and co-operation, and, bringing together people and cultures.

India-African Union Relations: The African Union is an international organisation consisting of 54 African member states (excluding Morocco but including Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. It was founded in Durban on 10 July 2002, replacing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). India is a member of the AU Partners Group (AUPG), which meets periodically in Addis Ababa. Alongside the India-Africa Summit, several cultural shows are organised. During the 2nd Summit in 2011, a cultural show “Rhythm of Life” was organised. A multi-media exhibition named “From Tradition to Innovation” was also held in 2011. A “Handcrafting Hope” exhibition saw the participation of some of the African craftswomen and their Indian counterparts who displayed some of the common features amongst them.  A film festival captioned ‘Come, Fall in Love with the Magic of Bollywood’ showed audiences a cross-section of popular Hindi cinema.

Ministry/ies and/or other bodies are responsible for implementing and monitoring the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Following a treaty signed in 1949, the Indian National Commission for Co-operation with UNESCO was created.[3] It is attached to the Department of Secondary & Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. The National Commission meets in Plenary at least once every two years. It consists of a General Assembly, which meets at least once every two years, five Sub-Commissions and a Secretariat. The National Commission is composed of 50 institutional and 50 individual members representing governmental departments, Ministries and institutions specialised in the fields of UNESCO’s competence, as well as representatives of NGOs, parliamentarians and prominent personalities from scientific, cultural, education and communication circles.

There are five sub-commissions to address the areas of (1) Education (2) Communications (3) Culture (4) Natural Sciences and (5) Social Sciences. Each sub-commission comprises 20 members.

The National Commission collaborates with its counterparts in Asia and the Pacific (in particular, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka). The Indian National Commission also maintains working relations with the UNESCO Field Offices of New Delhi and Bangkok, which provide it with technical support to carry out programme and activities on mutual basis.

The Ministry of Culture administers projects relating to strengthening the system of governance for culture in developing countries that have been funded by the EU in its effort to implement the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, 2005.[4] In 2010, the European Commission and the Government of India signed a Joint Declaration to reinforce co-operation and dialogue in the field of culture.

The European Commission and the Government of India consider that cultural co-operation is ‘instrumental in improving mutual understanding and in promoting genuine intercultural dialogue’, and both the European Commission and the Government of India share a ‘commitment to the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity’. While building on past achievements, both sides have declared their intention to further exploit the potential for co-operation between both regions through the development of new policy-oriented activities.

The European Commission and the Government of India declare their common intentions as follows:

  • Under the auspices of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005 to which both the European Community and the Government of India are parties, the Directorate General for Education and Culture on one side and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, on the other side, will set up a sector policy dialogue covering issues of common interest in the field of culture that will help to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.
  • The sector policy dialogue and co-operation will consist of regular exchanges of best practices, achievements and challenges, and promotion of knowledge building and sharing in relation to commonly identified issues.
  • The mutual dialogue may also include discussions on existing and future co-operation in the field of culture. Specific events such as seminars, workshops, or expert meetings will be jointly organised for the purpose of those exchanges and discussions, with the participation of relevant stakeholders. These events could be held annually, alternately in Brussels and in New Delhi or in any other venue agreed to by both sides. In addition, special promotional events, with the participation of relevant stakeholders, could be organised.[5]

Chapter published: 22-04-2014