New Delhi: Indian Council of Cultural Relations signed a one-of-a-kind Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 23 states to strengthen and promote cultural diplomacy abroad, the council said Friday. 
The ICCR said that the organisation will help states showcase their culture by organising seminars and exhibitions, as well as promoting tourism, literature, handicrafts and cuisine.
The ICCR is an autonomous government body under the Ministry of External Affairs. It aims at fostering India’s global cultural ties. 
The event held Azad Bhawan, New Delhi, was in pursuance of ICCR’s mission to make Indian culture more comprehensible to the global world, as stated in the opening address.

The MoU was signed between the states of Chattisgarh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, and Himachal Pradesh. 
Speaking to ThePrint, ICCR President Vinay Sahastrabuddhe said that the collaboration with states would lead to more resources both financially and socially, which would help Indian states move their rich cultures to a global stage. 
It would also help bring less-talked-about areas such as regional literature and textiles to a larger platform, he said.  
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Calling the event “historic”, Sahastrabuddhe said that the initiative will help “take the global community and international culture to the states of India and act as a gateway to Indian states”. 
This would help showcase and connect traditional artisans “who bring rich cultural heritage to the fore” and would also lead to greater awareness among the global community about the rich, literary tradition of the states, he said at the event.
“Through the signing of this MoU, the state government will be able to send its focal troops abroad to various countries to spread the local cultures, which will lead to a greater appreciation of local cultures worldwide and vice versa. Issues like visa and other finances will be addressed via this collaborative approach between ICCR and the states,” Vivek Acharya, director of the Chhattisgarh government’s department of culture, told ThePrint. 
The MoU is a formalisation of the collaboration between states and is meant to ensure equal representation for each state across India globally, ICCR’s Deputy Director General Rajeev Kumar told ThePrint. 
 “The objective is to create a branding of the states’ festival and to take that brand to the global audience because culture connects,” he said.  “States can now showcase their traditional art and artists to create awareness about rapidly declining art forms of each state. We aim to diversify and bring a platform to their local artisans to support them economically, both nationally and internationally.” 
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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