External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on June 27 inaugurated an exquisitely designed 'New Delhi Hall' at the SCO Secretariat in Beijing, which he said depicts a “mini-India” and will foster a better understanding of the country's culture.
The virtual inauguration of the hall by Mr. Jaishankar came ahead of next month’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit to be held for the first time under India’s Presidency.
The Secretariat of the eight-member SCO grouping comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan is located in the high-end diplomatic area in Beijing.
While the six founding members China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have their halls highlighting their cultures and unique features, India is the first to add its own 'New Delhi Hall' which is officially opened ahead of the July 4 SCO summit to be held in virtual format.
Pakistan may have to await its turn to set up its hall.
In his video address, Mr. Jaishankar said: “I am delighted to inaugurate the New Delhi Hall at the SCO Secretariat today amidst the august presence of the SCO Secretary General and other distinguished colleagues”.
“I am particularly pleased to note that this is being done under the first-ever SCO presidency which will conclude soon with the SCO Summit,” he said.
The New Delhi Hall, Mr. Jaishankar said, is conceived to be a “mini-India” in the SCO Secretariat and will showcase various facets of Indian culture.
“To make you visualise the depth of India’s artistic tradition and cultural identity, the Hall has been designed with exquisite patterns and motifs representing the rich architectural craftsmanship found throughout India,” he said. The hall, with its traditional design, is also equipped with modern technologies to facilitate meetings both in physical and virtual formats, he said.
“I hope that the New Delhi Hall will be a useful addition to the SCO Secretariat that will augment Indian colours/flavour to the multi-cultural and multi-national character of the SCO Secretariat. The Hall will be a testament to India’s commitment to fostering the essence of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means ‘The World is One Family’, he said.
The hall will be useful in conducting the activities and meetings of the Secretariat which are increasing year after year, he said.
“I am happy to note that the hall will also be used for screening Indian movies through the exclusive ‘cinemaSCOpe’ series, holding Yoga sessions, organising Indian dance and music masterclasses for the SCO countries’ embassies in Beijing, and mounting monthly exhibitions on different themes,” Mr. Jaishankar said.
“I am glad to know that the Indian Embassy is showcasing Indian Traditional Weaves as the inaugural Exhibition in the Hall. I am confident that you will have a glimpse of India in this hall through many such events and foster a better understanding of Indian culture,” he said.
Mr. Jaishankar thanked the architect, contractor and the Indian embassy officials for their “meticulous designing and execution of the project” and for getting it ready in a short span of time.
He also thanked SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming for facilitating the hall's smooth renovation.
Mr. Zhang along with Indian Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat, and envoys and officials of the SCO member countries attended the event.
The hall is designed by Chennai-born architect Prabhu Sugumar, who is currently based in Beijing. Sugumar specialises in urban architecture and cultural identity projects.
Indian officials say that hall is one of the important deliverables under India’s SCO Presidency.
In his address, Ambassador Rawat said the New Delhi Hall stands as a symbol of India’s rich cultural tapestry, highlighting the unity and beauty of its diverse traditions.
“Architecturally, the inspiration for this Hall is from the southern part of India. The ceiling, columns, doors, as well as the layered pattern of woodwork, were derived from the architectural motifs of heritage structures in cities in Southern India,” he said.
The hall was designed as a multi-functional space to suit various purposes like meetings, video conferences, movie screenings, Yoga master classes, dance and music classes.
“I hope that member states in coordination with the Secretariat will be able to utilise this space in the best possible way. This will also help SCO family colleagues to enhance their understanding of Indian civilisation,” he said.