The Czech Republic has expressed a desire to establish close cultural and people-to-people contact with Chandigarh, including giving the city a ‘sister city’ status with the Czech city of Zlin on account of the link that both the cities have with Le Corbusier.
In an interview to Chandigarh Newsline, Czech Ambassador to India, Milan Hovorka, who was in the city to hold discussions with city officials, said his country wants to foster close business and cultural ties with Chandigarh and has now opened a visa centre in the city.
“The purpose of my visit is to see what we can eventually do together. We have opened a new visa application centre in Chandigarh. I wanted to send across the message to people of Chandigarh that we are interested in promoting people to people contact through tourism and welcome people of Chandigarh to the heart of Europe,” he said. He added that two years back his country had only one visa facility in New Delhi but now there are 16, including one each in Chandigarh and Jalandhar.
“The city of Zlin in Czech Republic has a strong Indian connection given the fact that it is home to the Bata shoe company, which has been a household name in India for decades. But what is not known to many people is that Zlin also has a common link with Chandigarh through Le Corbusier who designed Chandigarh. The urban plan of Zlin has a strong influence of Corbusier and he had also submitted plans for some more structures,” he said.
Hovorka, who met several city officials, including the Administrator, V P Singh Badnore and Mayor Asha Jaswal, said he also wished to bring a Philharmonic Orchestra from the Czech Republic to the city in January next year.
The Ambassador said he also desired close ties with Chandigarh in the field of education. “I will be soon coming with representatives of Czech universities to Chandigarh in order to reach out and see what kind of cooperation we can generate.
“Here in Chandigarh you have so many universities and this is another area in which university to university cooperation could take place. We already have such tie ups across India. Last week there was a graduation ceremony in a city near Prague and the ceremony was conducted in English instead of Czech due to large number of Indian students,” he said.
Hovorka said that he has also met the major business representatives of FICCI, CII to find out what kind of business opportunities which could arise. “We can tie up with Chandigarh to provide help in public transportation because this city has excellent space available to set up services like trams which are very efficient in Czech Republic,” he said.
The Ambassador added that his country also looking towards partnership with Punjab and Haryana to help them diversify from agriculture and go into industrialisation. “The Czech economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe and though we have some companies like Skoda, Tatra who are in India and working for many years we look to expand our footprint. But this should not be limited to big global names only but it should also extend to small and medium industries,” he added.