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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrating Indian diversity via museum. VOA

New Delhi, Dec 31, 2016: Over the years many communities have made India their homeland. To celebrate this diversity the Narendra Modi government is hunting for curators to design and build India’s first museum on the Indian diaspora.

Successive Indian governments have faced huge criticisms from section of diaspora that New Delhi hasn’t appreciated enough their efforts in spreading India’s soft power globally, senior officials told The Telegraph. This museum is an effort to subvert this criticism.


The trials and suffering that generations of Indian emigrants weathered before achieving success in their respective countries will be displayed in here- and even their efforts in keeping alive for centuries, India’s cultural traditions and languages in foreign lands.

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India’s annual jamboree has been selected as the ideal occasion for the announcement of the museum for the diaspora, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, in Bangalore on January 9.

Indian diaspora is the second largest with 27 million, while China is having around 50 million-strong oversees population. This estimate was last updated by the government earlier this year. The Mexican diaspora – around 14 million, mostly in the US – ranks third in size.

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In an era where political leaders on extreme Right are stocking the rising anti-immigrant sentiments in US and Europe. The plan to honor and celebrate the Indian diaspora comes in with a new vigor.

“The museum shall showcase the historical evolution of the diaspora in various parts of the world,” a note on the museum initiative prepared by the ministry of external affairs said. “The museum shall also symbolize various achievements of the diaspora based on their aspirations while maintaining their cultural identity and civilizational ethos in and around the world.”

A newly constructed four-storey building in Chanakyapuri, considered as the capital’s diplomatic enclave is selected as the location for the museum. It will be called Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra. The Kendra was built as a complex of conference halls, restaurants, a banquet hall, lounges and a library. It was formally declared open earlier this year – its construction had started in 2011 under the then Manmohan Singh government.

The museum would be on the first floor of the building, in a wide and open area, with space dedicated to permanent exhibits and to temporary exhibitions. Mahatma Gandhi’s journey as an Indian who lived for years abroad will feature prominently in the museum – as will a depiction of the history of migration of Indians over the past two centuries.

According to the officials the museum will also have a more contemporary edge. It will capture the achievements of persons of Indian origin across the world and the experiences of the Indian diaspora in different countries – including those like Fiji and Uganda from where they once had to flee.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon


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