The ties between Iran and India have flourished over the years despite global political upheavals solely because they are underpinned by artistic and cultural exchanges, Iran’s Ambassador to India Dr Ali Chegini said on Tuesday, delivering the presidential address at the inauguration of a two-day cultural event at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). The cultural event, organised in collaboration with the Iran Culture House, commemorated 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“The friendship between Iran and India is based on art. It is not based on politics or trade,” said Dr Chegini. The audience at the address included calligraphers, artists and weavers from both the countries, among other guests.
“Iran was one of the first countries to recognise India after its independence. But that’s entirely notional, since our relations date back millennia,” the Iranian envoy said, remarking upon the rather steady bilateral ties between Tehran and New Delhi, which have of late come under a strain in the wake of killing of top Iranian general Qasim Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport on January 3.
Reiterating the importance of art in his speech, Dr Chegini told the gathering that “friendship” was the flipside to art. “Art has the potential to take the people of different countries together and fostering greater intercultural understanding,” he said, adding that terrorist groups like the Islamic State have flourished because others have 'abandoned' art.
Speaking at the event before Dr Chegini, Member Secretary at IGNCA Dr Sachidanand Joshi stated that it was only during difficult times that friendship with closed ones was tested, in what appeared to be a cryptic reference to the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran.
While New Delhi so far has toed a caution line and advised both Tehran and Washington to maintain restraint, the fact remains that the US has been actively lobbying New Delhi, among other major powers, to pressure Iran into submitting to Washington’s demands.
“We are tough people. Our friendship will last,” said Dr Joshi.
Dwelling on the importance of India in Iranian culture, Dr Kave Taimur, a renowned Persian calligrapher, noted that as per an old Persian saying, ‘anybody good at art must pay a visit to India’.
Delivering the welcome address at the event, the Cultural Counselor at the Iranian mission Dr Mohammad Ali Rabbani highlighted during his remarks that the marking of 70 years of India-Iran relations coincided with the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran.