Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the G20 Culture Ministers’ Meeting held in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh via video link today. In his address, he said, “We believe that heritage is a vital asset for economic growth and diversification. This is echoed in our mantra, ‘Vikas Bhi Virasat Bhi’- Development as well as Heritage. India takes pride in its 2,000 years old craft heritage, with nearly 3,000 unique arts and crafts.”
He said that technology is not antithetical to culture–it is an ally of culture. “Technology is an important ally in celebrating culture. In India, we have a National Digital District Repository. It is helping to re-discover the stories of our freedom struggle. We are using technology to ensure better preservation of our cultural landmarks. We are also using technology to make our cultural places more tourist friendly.”
The Prime Minister welcomed the dignitaries to Varanasi, also known as Kashi, and expressed delight that the G20 Culture Ministers’ Meeting is taking place here as the city is his parliamentary constituency. Referring to Kashi as one of the oldest living cities, Modi mentioned the nearby town of Sarnath where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. “Kashi is known to be a treasure chest of knowledge, duty and truth and it is indeed the cultural and spiritual capital of India.”
Speaking about the important issue of restitution of cultural property, the Prime Minister welcomed the efforts of the working group and said that tangible heritage is not only of material value but it is also the history and identity of a nation. Modi noted, “Everyone has the right to access and enjoy their cultural heritage.” After all, the Prime Minister said, cultural heritage is not just what is cast in stone, it is also the traditions, customs and festivals that are handed down the generations. He expressed confidence that the efforts of the working group will foster sustainable practices and lifestyles.
Concluding the address, Modi expressed delight that the G20 Culture Ministers’ working group has launched the ‘Culture Unites All’ campaign which encapsulates the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – One Earth, One Family, One Future.