Sundeep Bhutoria

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Indian diaspora in Rio


November 10, 2012: I have always found that Indians in far away lands, where the diaspora population of fellow Indians are not very high, are elated to meet Indians and try to go out of their way to make them at home.
At the Tijuca forest
After an informal dinner meet with Vimarshan, Prof Rajgopal and his wife Mallika offered to show me around the city at my convenience.  
It was offered not just out of formality, as is most often the case with Indians where they are large in numbers, but out of genuine feelings of warmth.
They were very kind to pick me up this morning from Hotel Royal Tulip where I am staying. 
They are staying in Rio for the past 40 years and naturally know much about their city. It was areal pleasure seeing this wonderful city with this wonderful couple.
We visited the National Gallery of Arts, passed through the whole of down town, Golden Churches and even drove to the 20-km long Tijuca forests to see the waterfall and had prasadam at an Iskcon temple. 
I was amazed to see the cultural and dance programmes there. 
In fact, there is law that allows citizens to contribute a part of their taxable income to a cultural institution and such activities.
We
made a stopover at the Centre in down town where a huge Mahatma Gandhi statue is placed.  

The statue was placed there after the death of Gandhi ji by the people of Brazil as a mark of great respect to our Father of the Nation, especially his ability to defeat the British through non-violence.
The statue has placed in the early 50s which was considered a golden period of Brazil. This was time when Bossa nova music, new ways of film making, best architectural projects of the world took place and of course winning the FIFA cup in 1958 in Sweden.
Gandhi
ji is seen as a spiritual leader out here. Every year on 2nd October Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated by an African organisation called Filhos of Gandhi which means sons of Gandhi.
India does not have a consulate in Rio after shifting the mission to Brasilia. But India does have an Honorary Consul out here but the local feeling is that the Consuls keep changing every two or three years and the connection with their native country is not so strong..
At an Iskon temple in Rio
At present Mr Pedro Freitas is the Honorary Consul of India here in Rio. His firm is one of the most important and prominent advocate firms of this country. I could not meet him as he is travelling.  
But after seeing the culture, literature, theatre and art activity here in Rio, I personally feel it is time for the Government of India to open a Nehru Centre for Culture or some ICCR unit here.
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