Cultural Diplomacy Current Affairs

Prime Minister to attend UN Vesak Day Celebrations in Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Modi will travel to Sri Lanka to attend the Buddhist festival ‘Vesak Day’ (Buddha Jayanti) that commemorates birth, enlighten and death of Buddha. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to Sri Lanka since becoming the Prime Minister. ‘International Day of Vesak’ celebrations will be held in Colombo from May 12 to 14. As a part of the celebrations, International Buddhist Conference will be held in which over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries will participate. Vesak is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. This is the first time Sri Lanka will host the festival.

Background

The Buddhist link between India and Sri Lanka dates back to 2nd century BC. During the reign of Emperor Ashoka, Buddhism was made as the official religion of India. Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta is believed to have brought a branch of original Bodh tree to Anuradhapura. Theravada Buddhism is widely practiced in Sri Lanka.

During last year Vesak celebrations held in Lumbini, China taking advantage of strained relation between New Delhi and Kathmandu partnered with Nepal to celebrate Vesak. China has been aggressively pursuing a strategy of staking claim to the legacy of Buddhism to boost its cultural influence. India to counter China’s strategy has been actively engaging with South East Asian countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to showcase its heritage.

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President Pranab Mukherjee launches Akashvani Maitree Channel for listeners in Bangladesh

President Pranab Mukherjee launched Akashvani Maitree (Moitree) Channel and its multimedia website in Bengali language for listeners in West Bengal, Bangladesh and the adjoining areas.

Akashvani Moitree Channel is an initiative of Kolkata Akashvani Kendra. It will provide a platform for blending content both from India and Bangladesh and preserving Bengali culture.

Key Facts

  • The channel will be broadcasted from a state-of-the-art brand new high power 1000Kw DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) transmitter in Chinsurah (West Bengal).
  • It has capacity to reach the entire length and breadth of Bangladesh through medium wave and will be also available globally on its website and mobile app for Bengali Diaspora.
  • The concept of the Akashvani Moitree Channel emanates from the decision taken during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh.
  • Both sides had agreed to share content among their broadcasting organisations in order to broadcast a mix of news and cultural programming.

What is Akashvani Maitree?

The All India Radio (AIR) during the Bangladesh Liberation Movement in 1971 had launched Akashvani Maitree, a Bangla radio service. The channel had played a historic role during the Bangladesh liberation movement. However, it was discontinued in 2010.

Why it is launched again?

  • The relaunch of Akashvani Maitree is being looked as an outreach to strengthen India’s shaky relations with Bangladesh as a part of its cultural diplomacy.
  • The service is being re-launched twin objectives: (i) To attract Bengali-speaking listeners from both countries. (ii) To counter the presence of CRI (Chinese Radio International) with its strong presence in the region.
  • The channel will also play a significant role in promoting and preserving the composite Bengali cultural heritage irrespective of geographical location.

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