SAARC Cultural Capital-2018 ceremony inaugurated in Thimpu
Kathmandu, 31 May (2018) – Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Inaugural Session of the SAARC Cultural Capital-2018 in Thimphu, Bhutan, Thursday morning.
Tashi Dorji, Chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan, graced the occasion with his august presence as the Chief Guest. He also addressed the Opening Ceremony.
In his Address at the Inaugural Session, the Secretary General congratulated the Royal Government and the people of Bhutan on Thimpu being declared the Second SAARC Cultural Capital for 2018. He stated that this recognition is not only a testimony to the unique beauty and serenity of Thimpu but is also an acknowledgement of the sustained efforts of the Royal Government and the people for protecting and preserving its pristine environment and making Bhutan the only carbon negative country in the world.
He further said, “This historic feat of the Royal Government reminds me of the concept of Gross National Happiness introduced by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, which continues to guide its successive Governments in attaining happiness and wellbeing of the people, beyond the count of money and material achievement, popularly known as Gross Domestic Product.”
Touching upon the importance of culture, the Secretary General said, “Culture in any society is the binding force that brings people together. In essence, culture is the fabric of day-to-day life, which shapes the identity of peoples and societies. Protection and promotion of cultural values is, therefore, fundamental to the sustainability of human civilization.”
In his address, the Secretary General also thanked the SAARC Cultural Centre based in Colombo for organizing the SAARC Handicraft Workshop and Exhibition coinciding with the opening ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Capital-2018. The two-day Exhibition, which brings together artisans from the Member States of SAARC, is aimed at showcasing diverse cultural themes and values of the region under the same roof.
In pursuance of the SAARC Agenda for Culture adopted by the Fourteenth SAARC Summit in New Delhi, India, in April 2007, Bamiyan Province of Afghanistan was declared the First SAARC Cultural Capital for 2015. Afghanistan organized several cultural activities in Bamiyan Province following this declaration. Bhutan will follow suit during 2018.
Full text of the Secretary General’s Address is as follows:
Chief Guest,Hon’ble Chairperson of the National Council of the Royal Government of Bhutan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeeda great honourand a privilege for me to address the Opening Ceremony of the Second SAARC Cultural Capital-2018 in this picturesque and tranquil city of Thimphu.
I wish to express our gratitude to the Royal Government of Bhutanfor very warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to us, and for excellent arrangements made for this important event. Being a founder member of SAARC, the constructive role of the Kingdom of Bhutan in promoting the objectives of SAARC is highly commendable.
I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the august presence in our midst today of theHon’ble Chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan as the Chief Guest of this occasion.
I wish to warmly felicitate the Government and people of Bhutanon Thimphu being declared as the Second SAARC Cultural Capital for 2018. This declaration is not only a testimony to the unique beauty and serenity of Thimphu but is also a recognition of the sustained efforts of the Royal Government and the peoplefor protecting and preserving its pristine environment and making Bhutan the only carbon negative country in the world.
This historic feat of the Royal Government reminds me of the concept of Gross National Happiness introduced by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, which continues to guide its successive Governments in attaining happiness and wellbeing of the people, beyond the count of money and material achievement, popularly known as Gross Domestic Product. It is indeed a matter of pride not only for the people of Bhutan but for all South Asians that the concept of Gross National Happiness has today become a global philosophy for holistic approach to developmentthrough sustainable and equitable socio-economic development; environmental conservation; preservation and promotion of culture; andgood governance.
Hon. Chief Guest,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Culture in any society is the binding force that brings people together.In essence, culture is the fabric of day-to-day life, which shapes the identity of peoples and societies. Protection and promotion of cultural values is,therefore,fundamental to the sustainability of human civilization. At the same time, inter-cultural relations help promote mutual understanding and affinity among peoples and nations.
Since its inception, SAARC has accorded high priority to the promotion of culture and cultural relations among the Member States and the peoples. In fact, as enshrined in its Charter, one of the primary objectives of SAARC is to accelerate cultural development in the region, besides promotion of socio-economic development and well-being of the peoples.
Moreover, during the SAARC Summits,our leaders have recognized that, bound as their countries were by many common values rooted in their social, ethnic, cultural and historical traditions, regional cooperation provided a logical response to the common problems and challenges facing the region.Further, our leaders have recognized that the countries of South Asia, which had been the cradle of human civilization and culture could, acting together cooperatively and cohesively, once again play their due role in the comity of nations.
Our leaders have also recognized that while reflecting a rich and plurality of cultural traditions, South Asia has shared civilization, which constitutes a historical basis for sustaining harmonious relations among the peoples of the region. They have also underlined that the SAARC process could draw more deeply from the vitality and strength of South Asia’s cultural heritage as a source influencing and enhancing creative energies in all fields, and promoting harmony, amity and cordial relations among our peoples.
Cultural cooperation in SAARC received impetus when our leaders adopted the SAARC Agenda for Culture at their Fourteenth Summit in New Delhi in April 2007, which opened ample avenues for regional collaboration in culture. The SAARC Cultural Capital Programme, to which all of us are witness today, is one of the prominent events, which draws inspiration from the vision of our leaders as reflected in the SAARC Agenda for Culture.
I wish to commend important role being played by the SAARC Cultural Centre in carrying forward the SAARC Agenda for Culture through several important initiatives since its establishment in 2009. The Centre’s Directors and professionals deserve our appreciation for their commitment, creativity and diligence. We also commend the Centre’s endeavoursfor organizing SAARC Handicraft Workshop and Exhibition on the sidelines of this event, with the participation of artisans from the Member States.
I am glad to share with you that in order to further promote cultural cooperation among the Member States, a new complex of the SAARC Cultural Centre is being built in Sri Lanka. I wish to sincerely thank the esteemed Government of Sri Lanka for allocating 17acres of land in Matara and over US$ 10 million for constructing a new state-of-the-art complex of the SAARC Cultural Centre. I am confident that the esteemed Government’s magnanimous gesture will further strengthen cultural collaboration in the region, as envisioned by our leaders during SAARC Summits.
In concluding my remarks, I once again wish to congratulate the Royal Government of Bhutan and its people on their accomplishment.
I thank you.