To mark 60 years of its cultural diplomacy, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations hosted an international seminar on “Indian Culture in a Globalised World” at its Azad Bhavan premises here on Thursday.

Inaugurating the seminar that also marked the 122nd birth anniversary of ICCR's founder Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Vice-President Hamid Ansari recalled that Jawaharlal Nehru had described the Maulana as “an extraordinarily interesting companion” at a time they were incarcerated in adjoining cells in a British jail.

Many years later, Nehru compared him to “the great men of Renaissance or, in a later period, of the encyclopaedists who preceded the French Revolution, men of intellect and men of action”.

“Our preference has been for the salad bowl rather than for the melting pot. The question of striking a balance between globalisation and identity, between authenticity and modernisation and the desire to be oneself and the temptation to be like others would thus remain a teasing one,” added Mr. Ansari.

According to ICCR President Dr. Karan Singh, the seminar was conceptualised to trace the contemporary state of Indian culture in global society and explore what role this vibrant culture can play in this beautiful but conflict-ridden world to show it the way to peaceful co-existence.

“I would like to share with you the key elements of the Council's expansion plan which includes setting up of new Indian Cultural Centres in countries important to India from the standpoint of bilateral relations, organising Indian festivals abroad often on a reciprocal basis, creating new chairs of Indian studies and initiation of a fellowship programme. We have recently opened new cultural centres in Bangkok, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, Abu Dhabi, Thimphu and Mexico. The process of opening more centres in cities like Paris, Lagos, Hanoi, Washington, Sao Paulo, Yangon, Dar-es-Salaam, Prague, Budapest and Kuwait has been initiated,” he added.