Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Tie up with Edinburgh Napier University

With Mr Paul Holmes, Academic Lead, International, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, signing a formal agreement on cultural collaboration with Prabha Khaitan Foundation 
6 December 2018: Today, I, as the Trustee on behalf of Prabha Khaitan Foundation, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, for cultural collaboration and exchanges between the two institutions.
Receiving a memento from Mr Paul Holmes, Tanushree Shankar, Usha Uthup and Esha Dutta
Mr Paul Holmes, Academic Lead, International, for overseas partnerships for School of Arts and Creative Industries, signed the memorandum on behalf of Edinburgh Napier University. The signing ceremony was held at The Taj Bengal.
With Gautam De, Director of ICCR Kolkata, Paul Holmes and Dona Ganguly
Eminent Kolkatans and cultural aficionados, danseuse Tanusree Shankar, Usha Uthup, Dona Ganguly, Goutam De, Director ICCR, Gouri Basu, Director of Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC), Mallika Varma, Nandita Palchoudhuri, Nilisha Agarwal and others were present on the occasion. The signing in was followed by a lunch.
With Gautam De, Paul Holmes, Nandita Pal Chaudhuri, Gouri Basu, Tanushree Shankar, Usha Uthup, Esha Dutta and Nilisha Agarwal
Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, which has 19,500 students from 140 countries on its rolls, is named after renowned mathematician and philosopher John Napier. 
At the roundtable with guests
I strongly feel that literature and performing arts should travel side by side and as we have already spread our literary activities overseas, this MoU with Edinburgh Napier University is a step forward for performing arts and cultural exchange between Kolkata and Edinburgh.
With Mallika Varma
I must thank the directors of ICCR and EZCC Goutam De and Gouri Basu respectively who expressed their solidarity with Prabha Khaitan Foundation and promised to continue extending their support to us.As per the agreement, the two institutions would explore possible collaborations and partnerships to promote performing arts and literature in India and Scotland.ess bee

Sunday, November 18, 2018

India’s global cultural appeal moves up a notch

At a get-together in Birmingham's Jaya Khazaei restaurant
18 November, 2018: I recently visited the United Kingdom to formalize collaborations with various cultural organizations and Universities to promote art, cultural and literary bilateral events. I was amazed at the overwhelming response from the heads and representatives of various UK-based arts and cultural groups, Universities and non-resident Indians about India.
This phenomenon, which took off since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office, is evident everywhere overseas. Indeed, India’s global cultural appeal has moved up a notch. Never during my earlier visits did I see such a groundswell of interest among foreigners and foreign institutions about India and its culture.
The 1.6 million British Indians are the largest ethnic group in the United Kingdom and three Indian languages, Punjabi, Bengali and Gujarati are among the top seven spoken languages.
In the past few years, the India House in London and Missions in other foreign cities have done much to promote India’s soft power through Indian art, culture and literature. Many Universities which earlier used to club India under Asian or South Asian sections have now put in place a dedicated India section. Many cultural groups are keen to promote Indian culture and also Bollywood dance which is popular in many talent contests.
I had gone to the United Kingdom to promote our Hindi literary event Kalam, which has now spread to 24 cities across India. We have already made a start in London and it is my feeling, based on the kind of interest people are taking in Indian culture, that we would soon start our events in other cities of the world with local support.
I visited Birmingham, Edinburgh, Oxford, Nottingham and London. As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, the Indian Mission, Non-Resident Indians, Iskon, Art of Living, Vipassana centres, Bollywood culture and a host of Indian groups and clubs have made Indian culture, festivals, cuisine, dance, yoga, books and plays very popular.
The enthusiasm with which UN World Yoga Day is celebrated across cities of the world has added to all this.
Also, many rich Indians have extended their support and patronage to the various local outfits run by Indian diaspora. On the other hand, the Indian diaspora community is upbeat. They feel that India has earned a certain international fame and reputation among the comity of nations which was missing earlier.
Not to be left behind, the IT guys, the whiz kids and Indian curry, which is a national dish of UK, have all contributed to creating a typical Indian identity rooted in its ancient culture. Traditional Indian fashion icons like bindis, henna, sherwanis is now very much a part of the local culture thanks to the television soaps where bhangra and Bollywood vie with pop and jazz. The credit for all this goes to the British society’s spirit of promoting multiculturalism.
The Indian Society at the Trinity College in Dublin (Ireland) is one of the fastest growing. A few years ago only 30 to 40 students would turn up during Diwali festivities in the College. Last year there were more than 500 students trying to get into a jam-packed hall.
The British Council observed the 70th year of the Indo-British cultural exchange last year. Last year was an incredible year of cultural events and activities in India organized by the British Council and similar programmes were organized in the UK by the Government of India.
At the get-together, which was hosted by Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage in Birmingham at Jaya Khazaei restaurant Del Villaggio, I met many people from the art fraternity and we discussed exploring unconventional ways to partner with arts organisations to promote Indian literature and culture in the region. At the get-together, I met Shruti Doshi. She is the Institute’s Co-ordinator at the University of Birmingham where there is a dedicated India Institute for raising awareness from academic research and scholarship to public engagement in culture. When I met Ms Preet Kaur Gill, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston at the House of Commons, I sensed a new yearning for Indian culture. People, especially the NRIs, are turning towards the rich Indian culture and Indianness (Bhartiyata).

On my trip to Edinburgh, I had a very good meeting with Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Edinburgh officials. We discussed the possibilities of collaboration and exchange programs in arts and culture. They were very interested to host Indian artists and conduct workshops in the University and provide the students with an opportunity to learn about the various performing arts of India.
I was invited to attend the annual grand Hindi Kavi Sammelan in Nottingham where I met Jai Verma. She has been a strong advocate of Hindi language and literature and has been promoting Indian culture for over four decades now. Through her experience, contacts and knowledge, Jai has been championing the cause of Hindi in the UK and has also organised various literary functions and annual International Kavi Sammelans in Nottingham since 2003.
She was a supporting member of Nottingham’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature which was formally announced in December 2015. She is also campaigning for Kolkata to become a UNESCO City of Literature.
Overall, what I realized during my trip to the UK is that there is a growing eagerness among the Britishers as well as among the prominent Indians residing there to engage in events and activities related to India and know more about Indian culture. 
The cultural capital base of India in the UK has certainly moved up a notch. As a visitor, I could feel a newfound interest, recognition and warmth in Bahar Bharat towards India's cultural heritage which was earlier missing. The positive impact of all this is the flowering of a vibrant cultural scenario in which India is the fulcrum.
ess bee

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Prabha Khaitan Foundation-British Council collaboration

With British Council team of Debanjan Chakraborty, Alan Gemmel, Christopher Rodrigues and Mr Hari Mohan Bangur
14 October, 2018: Today, on behalf of Prabha Khaitan Foundation I signed a formal agreement with the British Council to collaborate and work together to promote art and culture of the two countries in India and United Kingdom. 
Formal signing of collaboration between Prabha Khaitan
Foundation and the British Council at the Taj Bengal Hotel
Mr Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman and global head of British Council, came down to Kolkata from London to formalize the agreement.
With Mr Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman
and Global head of the British Council
With the onset of Puja festivities, it was a good time for Mr Rodrigues and his wife to be in the city.
The agreement was signed by Mr Alan Gemmel, Director of British Council in India, in the presence of dignitaries including industrialist Hari Mohan Bangur, danseuse Tanusree Shankar, Dona Ganguly, litterateur Anjum Katyal, Ms Tiphaine Mayran, Dy Director, Alliance Francaise, Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director British Council (East and North East), Ms Gouri Basu, Director, Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC), Arun Kumar Chakraborty, Director, National Library and others.
With Dona Ganguly, Anjum Katyal and Tanushree Shankar
Prabha Khaitan Foundation has been carrying out various cultural and literary events across India covering 25 cities and has also started doing events in London. The plan is to try for Singapore, Dubai, USA and other cities of Europe. 
With Tiphaine Mayran, Deputy Director,
Alliance Francaise du Bengalie
The tie-up with the British Council would be a force multiplier and together we would do many events in India and the United Kingdom.
Prabha Khaitan Foundation has been promoting art, culture and literature for over two decades and has successfully started events like An Author’s Afternoon, Write Circle, Kalam, Lafz, Desert Soul etc.
ess bee

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Rabindra Jayanti with Pronam members

With Agnimitra Paul and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

9 May, 2018: Today was the 157th Rabindra Jayanti or the Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. 
With Agnimitra Paul
I attended a Rabindra Jayanti function organized by Pronam at its office in Ballygunge Police Station.
The function was attended by officials of Kolkata Police and members of Pronam who are all senior citizens. Film director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Ms Agnimitra Paul, Jt Convenor of Pronam, were also there.
The elderly members paid rich tributes to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore by performing Rabindra Sangeet, recitation of his poems and excerpts from his works.
I visited the Pronam office after a long time and took note of some of the infrastructural requirements needed there.
ess bee

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Of Palais de Nations peacocks and WFUNA meetings

A proud moment to meet our Indian National Bird at the Palais de Nations, Geneva, premises

May 2, 2018: I came back to Kolkata from Geneva today. I had left Kolkata on 25 April for Geneva via Dubai on Emirates and had reached Geneva in the evening. It is always a pleasure to fly Emirates and I notice the innovations and positive changes in services they keep adding.
In Geneva WFUNA ExCo meeting
The new first-class suites, which only fly Dubai—Geneva and Dubai-Brussels sectors, are really of high quality and very stylish. Although there is no spa attached to them like the A380 which fly to other sectors from Dubai, I presume the suites in A380 also would be like these in time. Each time I fly Emirates, I find the quality bar is raised.
I went to Geneva to attend the Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting of the World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA). My visit was packed with meetings and I got an opportunity to catch up with some old WFUNA colleagues and made some new friends in Geneva.
With Rajiv Kumar Chander, Permanent Representative of India to the UNOG
On April 26, I met Mr Rajiv Kumar Chander the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in Geneva at his office. Post that, I went to the WFUNA office which is located in the iconic Palais de Nations building. The imposing building, which is also called the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and considered to be the UNO’sEuropean headquarters, is full of history.
In Geneva
Indian Restaurant in Geneva
This humongous complex is located on a 46-hectare prestigious Ariana Park overlooking the Geneva Lake. It was constructed from 1929 till 38 for the League of Nations
Over the years, additional buildings were added to the complex. 
Each year over one lac visitors tour the Palais de Nations and sixty thousand delegates participate in various conferences.
During my visit to Palais de Nations building complex, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite many of our National birds proudly strutting and roaming around the hallowed premises of one of Europe’s most iconic buildings in their splendid colours. Their occasional calls from time to time pierce through the stillness of Ariana Park. I came to know that these peacocks are the permanent members at the Palais de Nations since 1890 by decree. I was curious and made some queries. And what I came to know was very interesting.
The presence of about a dozen peacocks at the UNOG is a legacy of art collector Gustave Revilliod de Rive who bequeathed his park to the City of Geneva in 1890 based on three conditions that he be buried at the Park after his death; the peacocks should be allowed to roam freely in the Park; and the Park should be given access to the masses. All these three conditions are honoured by the City of Geneva. 
Thus the peacocks are the Special Guests of Palais de Nations as per the local law. A cenotaph or tomb of Gustave Revilliod has also been erected with the premises where his mortal remains to rest.
Since then, the peacocks and peahens have been roaming freely within the premises of Palais de Nations, often seen perching on many the more than 100-year-old trees planted from all over the world.
Indian restaurant in Geneva
Most of the peacocks at the Palais de Nations are from the Indian sub-continent. A Japanese zoo had initially gifted some peacocks to the Palais de Nations and the rest were gifted by the Permanent Mission India in Geneva. 
The birds are fed and taken care of by the park's gardeners. The cost of keeping these feathered guests in style is borne by the UNOG.
With Ramaz Aptsiauri, Kathryn White (WFUNA Canada) and Bonian Gulmohammadi
Before meeting the Permanent Representative of India to UNOG on 26 April, I had lunch with a Russian NGO at the Spice of India restaurant followed by a WFUNA meeting and then in the evening, I had dinner with WFUNA colleague Bonian Golmohammadi.
With Ramaz Aptsiauri, UNA Georgia
I had a series of meeting on 27 April and I met Mr. Ramaz Aptsiauri of United Nations Associations (UNA) Georgia at Hotel Royal Geneva
With Aarthi Krishnan of International Federatio of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Next, I had a meeting with Aarthi Krishnan of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. I also met Kathyrn White of UNA Canada and another meeting with Bonian Golmohammadi at Hotel Royal.
WFUNA meeting in progress
There was the WFUNA Finance Committee meeting followed by the WFUNA Executive Committee meeting at the Palais de Nations. In the evening, there was dinner at the UN dining room overlooking the lakes and mountains of Geneva.
With Bonian Gulmohammadi, WFUNA
On April 28 there were a series of meetings including another WFUNA ExCo meeting at CAGI International Welcome Centre
Indian restaurant Tandoori Grill in Geneva
In the evening I met Shishir Priyadarshi, Director Development Division of the World Trade Organisation for dinner along with his wife at the Rasoi by Vineet, an Indian food joint.
With Kiran Mehra Kerpelman
On April 30 I met Kiran Mehra Kerpelman over lunch at the WFUNA office in ILO.
With Michael Moller, Director General of UNOG
I met Mr Michael Moller, Director General of UNOG on May Day in the morning and left Geneva at night. I reached Kolkata today evening.
ess bee

Monday, April 23, 2018

Arindam’s 30 years in filmdom


With Arindam Sil and family Sonika and Shukla
23 April, 2018: Today was a lovely evening at Hyatt Regency Kolkata. I hosted a party for actor-director Arindam Sil who completed his 30 years in Bengali film industry. All the celebrities from the tinsel town were there in full strength.
WIth Gautam Bhattacharya and Arindam
Arindam started his acting career in an early stage. He has made more than thirty Bengali feature films, numerous television serials and tele-films. 
With Harsh Neotia
He made his directorial debut with Aborto and other films followed.
With Birgit Holm, Kalyan Ray and Aparna Sen
Last year he took up a challenging initiative and made a film on the controversial issue of Dhananjoy that was much appreciated by the audience.
With June Maliah
It was nice to meet Harsh Neotia, sports journalist Gautam Bhattacharya, film producer Moni and Srikant, actors Aparna Sen, Kalyan Roy, Abir Chattopadhyay and others.
With Mahendra Soni and Srikant Mohta
I am looking forward to my visit to Geneva day after.
ess bee

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sunil Gangopadhyay Memorial Award 2018


With Prafulla Roy, Keshari Nath Tripathi and Nabaneeta Dev Sen
19 April, 2018: Yesterday I attended the 55th session of An Author’s Afternoon with guest author Joshua Pollock. He was in conversation with Varuna Shunglu. a practitioner of yoga and a law graduate. She works with NGOs and has started her own wellness community Kyogi.
With Joshua Pollock, Varuna Shunglu and Kanak Rekha Chauhan
This session of An Author’s Afternoon was a tad unusual in the sense it began on a meditative note. The author, an expert violinist who has evolved his own meditation style called “Heartfulness”, wanted the audience to have a glimpse of that experience one feels during meditation. 
With Neil and Bashabi Frazer
He guided the audience with basic relaxation techniques of calming the mind and getting prepared for the inner journey that lies ahead and also relate to his book “The Heartfulness Way”
With Keshari Nath Tripathi, Prafulla Roy, Swati Ganguly and The Bengal team members Agnimitra, Usha Uthup, Bickram Ghosh, Dona Ganguly, Arindam Sil, Jogen Choudhury, HM Bangur, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Nayantara Pal Choudhury and Goutam Ghose.
With Usha Uthup and Keshari Nath Tripathi
Just as we have to make an effort to go to a rail station to catch a train which takes us to our destination. We have to make an effort to calm our mind and the rest the inner journey would follow, the author explained. A mix of effort in order to achieve a kind of effortlessness was the key message.
The audience asked some interesting questions pertaining to his style of meditation, the author said that we all have to experience meditation in our own way Pollock said.

With Prafulla Roy and Arindam Sil
Today evening, the third Sunil Gangopadhyay Memorial Award event was held at the Raj Bhavan. Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi conferred the 2017 Award on Prafulla Roy, a leading litterateur of Bengal. His work on subaltern societies is laudable. A citation, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh was given to the author by the Governor.
The earlier recipients of this Award are Nirendranath Chakraborty, Shankha Ghosh, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay and Joy Goswami.
With Swati Gangopadhyay
The Bengal members were in full strength to attend the event. Usha Uthup rendered Ganesh vandana to start off the proceedings. Actor-director Arindam Sil read out excerpts from Sunil Ganguly’s renowned novel ‘Protham Alo’. Director Gautam Ghosh recited e poetry on a dead river by Late Sunil da. Agnimitra Paul conducted the whole ceremony.
With Dona Ganguly
Chairman of The Bengal, H M Bangur delivered a speech on behalf of The Bengal along with Nabaneeta Dev Sen. Other members of The Bengal present on the occasion included Bickram Ghosh, Dona Ganguly, K Jawed Yusuf, Nayantara Pal Choudhury and Jogen Choudhury. Mrs Swati Ganguly, wife of Late Sunil Ganguly was also present.
About thirty senior citizens from Pronam also attended the event.
ess bee