Culture has inherent potential to unite, know diverse backgrounds: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the importance of the strengthening of cultural heritage for economic development and diversification and said that India will launch the PM Vishwakarma Yojana in the next few months to help traditional artisans and preserve the rich cultural heritage.

Addressing the meeting of G20 Culture Ministers’ being held virtually in Kahsi, the PM said that culture has an inherent ability to unite. “It enables us to understand the diverse backgrounds and perspectives that are so important for all of humanity,” he said.

He said that heritage is a vital asset for economic growth and diversification, and it is echoed in India’s mantra of ‘Vikas Bhi Virasat Bhi, which means development as well as heritage. “India takes pride in its 2,000-year-old craft heritage, with nearly 3,000 unique arts and crafts,” he said.

Highlighting the ‘One District, One Product’ initiative, which showcases the uniqueness of Indian crafts while fostering self-reliance at the same time, Modi emphasised that the efforts of G20 nations towards promoting cultural and creative industries hold profound significance as they will facilitate inclusive economic development and support creativity and innovation.

He said, “In the coming month, India is going to roll out the PM Vishwakarma Yojana with an initial outlay of 1.8 billion dollars. It would create an ecosystem of support for traditional artisans, enable them to flourish in their crafts, and contribute to the preservation of India’s rich cultural heritage.”

Highlighting the inherent potential of culture to unite and enable us to understand diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the PM said that the work of the G20 Culture Ministers Group holds immense significance for entire humanity. “We in India are very proud of our eternal and diverse culture. We also attach great value to our intangible cultural heritage,” he said.

He said, “We are also building many centres to celebrate our culture. Prominent among them are the tribal museums in different parts of the country. These museums will showcase the vibrant culture of the tribal communities of India.”

Modi said, “In New Delhi, we have the Prime Minister’s Museum. This is a unique effort of its kind that showcases the democratic heritage of India. We are also building the ‘Yuge-Yugeen Bharat’ National Museum. Once completed, it will be the largest museum in the world. In this, more than 5,000 years of the history and culture of India will be displayed.”

He said that we Indians are very proud of our eternal and diverse culture. “We also attach great importance to our intangible cultural heritage. We are working hard to preserve and revive our heritage sites. We have saved our cultural wealth and artists not only at the national level but also at the village level of all of India.”

Highlighting the important issue of restitution of cultural property, the PM said that tangible heritage is not only of material value but also the history and identity of a nation. “Everyone has the right to access and enjoy their cultural heritage,” he said.

He said that since 2014, India has brought back hundreds of such artefacts that showcase the glory of its ancient civilization. “Cultural heritage is not just what is cast in stone; it is also the traditions, customs, and festivals that are handed down through the generations,” he said.

Modi said that technology is an important ally in celebrating culture. “In India, we have a National Digital District Repository. It is helping us rediscover the stories of our freedom struggle. We are using technology to ensure better conservation of our cultural sites. We are also using technology to make our cultural sites more tourist-friendly.”

He said, “I am glad that your group has started the campaign ‘Culture unites all’. It embodies the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.”

Beginning his address, the PM said “I am glad to meet you in Varanasi, which is my parliamentary constituency. Kashi is not only the oldest living city in the world; it is also called the city of ‘Sugyan, Dharma, and Satyarashi—the storehouse of knowledge, duty, and truth. It is truly the cultural and spiritual capital of India. Not far from here is Sarnath, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. I hope you all have kept some time from your schedule to watch Ganga Aarti, visit Sarnath, and taste the delicacies of Kashi.”

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