In March 2021, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh on the invitation of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The two-day visit (March 26-27), which marked PM Modi’s first international visit since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, coincided with Bangladesh’s golden jubilee celebrations of independence; the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the iconic leader of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle and the country’s first Prime Minister; and 50 glorious years of India-Bangladesh diplomatic ties.
During the visit, PM Modi laid the foundation of a memorial dedicated to the martyrs of the Indian Armed Forces, who valiantly fought in Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971, and inaugurated, along with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, a new train “Mitali Express” connecting Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh) and New Jalpaiguri (West Bengal, India) – reiterating India’s close ties with the neighbouring nation. PM Modi also announced 1000 Shuborno Jayanti Scholarships for Bangladeshi students looking to pursue education/courses in India. In the partnership section of this issue, we cover the landmark visit of PM Modi to Bangladesh.
India has a glorious legacy of connecting with the world by sharing knowledge, philosophy, culture and traditions. The living embodiment of this legacy is reflected in the shared heritage of Buddhism. With Buddhist culture and philosophies having spread from ancient India across Asia, it forms a strong civilizational bond with several countries of South East Asia. In this issue, we explore the shared Buddhist heritage of India with South East Asian countries.
Also in focus in this issue are two very intriguing indigenous Indian traditions. In his recent radio addresses to the nation ‘Mann ki Baat’, PM Modi highlighted the heritage of Odisha’s Pattachitra art form and Mon Shugu, about 1000-yearold paper-making technique of Arunachal Pradesh’s Monpa tribal community. We delve into the intricacies of Pattachitra that is said to have begun with the establishment of the revered Jagannath temple in Puri and continues to be practiced traditionally even today in the small heritage village of Raghurajpur. We also look into the eco-friendly manufacturing process of the Mon Shugu paper, which is made from the bark of a local plant, thereby eliminating the need to cut trees.
Eco-friendly and sustainable products are the need of the hour. As we approach World Environment Day (June 5), we acknowledge the environment-friendly innovations of several Indian entrepreneurial ventures, who are redefining the term ‘best from waste’. Their creative ideas are also furthering PM Modi’s visions of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India.
These visions were also underlined in India’s first toy fair that was launched by PM Modi in the virtual format. During the inauguration of the fair, PM Modi emphasised the role of Indian toys in the cognitive growth of a child and encouraged indigenous toy makers to keep alive their tradition. We throw light on some handmade Indian toys that not only entertain children but also reflect the local culture and tradition.
Equally distinguished and indigenous are Indian spices. Full of flavour and packed with numerous health benefits, they too are reflections of local customs. We bring you some of the lesser-known spices from the Indian subcontinent. Millets, like spices, are another integral part of any Indian kitchen. On the occasion of Year 2023 being declared as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations General Assembly, we bring forth the importance of millets in the Indian food chain, the regions where they are grown and the efforts of the Indian government in their promotion and cultivation.
In our persona section, we pay tribute to one of India’s finest filmmakers Satyajit Ray. Bestowed with the Bharat Ratna and the Honorary Academy (Oscar) Award for Lifetime Achievement, Satyajit Ray was also a prolific author, illustrator, and musician.