– By Satyajeet Tambe
India and Indian culture is spreading like wildfire, but it’s spreading warmth and light. A case in point is the Indian festival and its cultural celebrations. Diwali is getting brighter by the day. The whole world seems to be clutching at the festive spirit and its different dimensions. It is learnt that 100-plus countries celebrated Diwali this year, including Dubai, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, USA, and England to name some. Recently, the New York mayor also iterated that starting next year, Diwali will be a public school holiday.
India is fast emerging as an important player in world politics. To top that, organisational assistance behind the curtain has been significant in enhancing Indian festivities and spreading cultural heritage. Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, is one such organisation that always tries to take the Indian roots and spread the idea of India. The cultural exchange of such organisations fosters bonhomie among nations.
A few chapters in the book “Connecting Through Culture: An Overview of India’s Soft Power Strengths”, edited by ICCR Chairman Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Sachchidanand Joshi, Executive and Academic Head of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), mention Indian festivals and how Kumbha Mela, Dusshera, Navaratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Chhat Puja, Baisakhi, Nowruz, Eid, and Christmas, among others are testimony to the confluence of different faiths and religious expressions across different regions of India.
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Nothing expresses the unity of kaleidoscopic India more than its festivals– vibrant effacers of social, economic, religious and political boundaries, writes Shyam Banerji in the chapter ‘The Eternal Festival Called Bharat’. “Its ability to connect with the world through culture is top-most priority. To that end, it is extremely important to preserve the treasure of its exceptionally rich heritage coupled with unparalleled traditional knowledge and hand over this legacy to the generations to come,” reads another chapter of the book.
Even Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for that matter, strives to keep the Indian morals and values intact that forms quintessential India. This helps keep the idea of India alive and kicking within the country, which is the most important aspect. India’s traditional practices are also fast-spreading over the world. The talent that the country exports to several nations plays a huge role in taking India along with them and introducing the West to our rich culture in all its glory. But things really changed in 2009 when the first Diwali diya was lit in the Oval Office by the then US President Barack Obama. It changed the course of Diwali and it catapulted the festival into mainstream pop culture.
Add to that, Indians have influenced and contributed to the countries to a great extent which makes the countries pay attention, and also cater to them. For example, America alone houses around 40 lakh Indian-origin citizens who have contributed vastly to the American economy by being top doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs. Not just the USA, but a large body of work from NRIs and Indian-origin citizens across sectors and cutting through continents is a testament to the fact that India and Indians are ubiquitous. In the truest sense, it gives out an all-inclusive feeling.
There is no doubt about the fact that there is a population explosion in the world, especially in Asian countries. India’s population stands at 1.4 billion people as of 2022. There is little to be proud of in the stat. However, due to this very reason, the fact remains that the market here is absolutely huge for any sector to blossom. When Mark Zuckerberg came to India to meet PM Narendra Modi, it was not only because of his adulation for him. He is very well aware of the fact that his company Meta’s Facebook platform currently has over 35 crore users from India, the highest in the world for his platform, followed by his home country the United States of America at around 16 crore users. It is important to note that number two and three, when put together, stands lesser than the figure of Indian users. Foreign companies and investors know the sheer strength of the population and its purchasing power, and festivals only fuel their desire to further indulge in spending money.
The core of it all is India’s ability and sheer talent at making heads turn and bringing to the fore its lost glory. It is high time the world notices it, acknowledges it and appreciates it.
(Satyajeet Tambe is the Maharashtra Congress Leader, and an Economic and Political Observer)
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– By Satyajeet Tambe