Inaugurating the Kerala-Delhi Culture Festival at the Connaught Place Central Park on Saturday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke on the urgent need for people to come together against forces that divide the country, learn from the rich history of India and not ignore the contributions of other cultures.
The idea for the three day fest — pegged to be the first-ever cultural event between the two states — was mooted by the Kerala CM after a similar programme between Kerala and Telangana earlier this year. “The initiative was taken by the Kerala Chief Minister. Sir, I salute you for your efforts to unite this country,” Kejriwal said.
Elaborating on several incidents of “forces trying to break this country” and how “Kerala was putting up a fight against these forces”, Kejriwal said, “Sir, we, our government, our people will support you in your fight against such forces.”
Vijayan responded: “We have to be alert during these times. We have a very rich and diverse culture and there is someone who is projecting all of this richness as one sculpture. These people say that one particular culture contributed to the Indian culture; they do so by avoiding the contributions of other cultures,” Vijayan added. Also present were Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, Kerala Minister for Culture, Law, Welfare of SC, ST & backward classes and Parliamentary Affairs A K Balan, Kerala Minister for Port, Archives, Archaeology and Museums Ramachandran Kadannapalli and Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
Even as Balan welcomed the Delhi government’s proposal to set up a Malayalam academy to promote the language, Sisodia said, “We have many Malayalis in the crowd; for us they are Delhiites. We may be divided geographically and politically but we are united by our culture. I do not know if ‘one nation, one tax’ may work but ‘one nation, one culture’ will live on.”
Maintaining that there is a need to continue such cultural exchange programmes, Kejriwal added, “I am pleased to announce that next February, the Delhi government will do a cultural exchange programme in Kerala.”
Vijayan also spoke about the contribution of the Sultanate and the Mughals in shaping Delhi’s unique culture. “You cannot erase Mirza Ghalib’s poems, Tansen’s songs , Naushad’s music and M F Hussain’s paintings. If a set of people want to remove this culture from their lives, then they do so at their own peril,” he said.