Landmark in Indo-Arab Relationship

The first ever India Arab Forum was inaugurated in New Delhi on December 2. This year’s theme is ‘Partnership Through Culture’.

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The first ever India Arab Forum was inaugurated in New Delhi on December 2. This year’s theme is ‘Partnership Through Culture’. The Forum was inaugurated by the Union Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. Delivering the inaugural address, Mr. Mukherjee termed the forming of the Forum as a “landmark in India-Arab relationship”. Mr. Mukherjee pointed out, “India’s vibrant relationship with the Arab world goes back to centuries. In fact as long as the time itself. It encompasses all aspects of life.” On the cultural front, “Our folktales are derived from common heritage,” he disclosed. “Even before the advent of Islam Indian Peninsula had cordial ties with the Arabian Peninsula,” informed Mr. Mukherjee.

Specifically mentioning the Gulf region, Mr. Mukherjee stressed, “It (Gulf region) is an important source of energy.” Talking of the “common challenges,” Mr. Mukherjee claimed, “India and Arab World face common challenges.” Reiterating India stand on the Palestinian struggle, Mr. Mukherjee emphasised, “India has always supported the Palestinian struggle but at the same time is pained by the fact that Peace Process is not moving ahead. We wholeheartedly support Arab Peace Initiative. We are in favour of continued dialogue.”  He also revealed, “India has called for the stopping of Israeli expansion in the Palestinian territories.”  Criticising Israel’s blockade, Mr. Mukherjee said, “There can be no justification for embargo of essential commodities.”  Referring to the efficacy of the India Forum, Mr. Mukherjee declared, “I am confident that this Forum will emerge as a mechanism in various sectors.”

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary General of League of Arab States, Dr. Amre Moussa congratulated India and called the Forum a “major endeavour”. He expressed the hope, “Forum will bring India and the Arab World together and reaffirm our relationship.”  Relating to the “common legacy” of India and Arab, Dr. Moussa stated, “We are one, we are similar, we have a rich legacy that make us move with determination for future.” Shedding light on the composition of the India Arab Forum, Dr. Moussa highlighted, “This forum is a new Forum with many baskets: political, economic and cultural.”

Elaborating on these baskets Dr. Moussa clarified, “On the political basket in this age of globalisation we have to cooperate to save humanity from calamities. On the economic basket opportunities are at a galore. Within a couple of years trade between India and Arab countries will cross US $100 billion mark. On the cultural basket we have to ensure meeting of private sector, civil society, etc.”

According to Dr. Moussa, “Political problems emanate from cultural misunderstandings and thus clash of civilization occurs.” He reminded the audience of the “duty” to defeat clash of civilization. “We have a duty to stand together up to the negative notions of clash of civilization that benefit both of us.”

In his concluding remarks Mr. N. Ravi, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Ggovernment of India reflected, “Today’s event is a reflection of century old alliance. Events related with the India Arab Forum will lead us to hope. Today’s event is certain to lead us for mutually beneficial relationship.”

The inaugural session was moderated by Dr. Amit Mitra Director General of Federation of India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). “Mr. Sanjay Singh, Additional Secretary Ministry of External Affairs, government of India started this venture,” said Dr. Mitra. On this occasion a bilingual compendium of articles by top notch scholars from India and the Arab World was released by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and D. Amre Moussa.

The India Arab Forum is jointly organised by FICCI, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and League of Arab States. The various activities of the India Arab Culture Forum continued till December 7. More than 180 artistes from as many as 12 different Arab countries performed in the various programmes. Paintings of famous artists from Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait were kept on display. Arab Fine Arts and Book exhibition was held December from 4 to 7 at IGNCA, New Delhi.

In the Arab Film Festival films from various Arab countries were screened. The films screened included: The Royal Tour (Jordan, 4 December), Out of Courage (Syria, 4 December), Masters of Desert (Kuwait, 4 December), Bosta The Bus (Lebanon, 5 December), I Love Cinema (Egypt, 5 December), The Moroccan Symphony (Morocco, 5 December), The Identity (Syria, 6 December), Ring of Fire (Lebanon, 6 December), and Teenage Memoirs (Egypt, 6 December).

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