Madhur Tankha

NEW DELHI: The Australian High Commissioner to India, John McCarthy, launched a two-year cultural promotion programme titled "AusArts: Celebrating Australian Art and Culture 2006-2007" here on Friday.

"During the next two years, the programme will showcase the diversity of Australian culture through major events in India focusing on art exhibitions, high quality drama, jazz, design, film, literature and other art and cultural events across India," said Mr. McCarthy.

Supported by the Australian Government through the Australia International Cultural Council, the programme also features three Australian authors -- Larissa Behrendt, Isobelle Carmody and Luke Davies -- in conversation with noted Indian poet-critic Ashok Vajpeyi. These award-winning writers will also lead the Australian delegation to the forthcoming Kolkata Book Fair.

The Australian High Commissioner said his country's participation in the Kolkata Book Fair and the presence of major Australian authors in India present an opportunity to highlight and strengthen the shared English language and literature connections that exist between the two countries.

"Australia is delighted, in particular, to have the authors visit India while Australia is the guest of honour country at the 2006 Kolkata Book Fair, and we look forward to being the focus country in 2007," he added.

In Delhi, the visiting authors will also take part in lectures and forums to talk about their work and discuss the state of literature with their Indian counterparts at Jawaharlal Nehru University as well as participate in the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair.

They will also conduct workshops and master classes at Burdwan University, and contribute to a conference at Kolkata University on the theme of "Globalisation and Postcolonial Writing".

As part of AusArts, an aboriginal exhibition titled "Seasons of the Kunwinjku" will open in Kolkata on February 7. Australia will also participate at the Mumbai International Film Festival in February, which also features a live performance by a didgeridoo player prior to the screening of Australian films. Australian Art Orchestra, Australian Dance Theatre and an exhibition on contemporary design for the body will also be presented