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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Lusofonia: Platform for Dialogue of Cultures

By Eduardo Falerio* - Syndicate Features

Lusofonia is a movement which links Portuguese speaking nations. It does, however, attempt to associate some other countries including India and China. It is then a possible platform for the dialogue of cultures, so relevant to our troubled times.

Goa was connected to Portugal for 450 years. At present, there are in Goa several institutions, governmental and non-governmental, which offer courses in Portuguese language and culture. The Goa University has a full fledged Department of Portuguese which conducts diploma courses and courses at graduate and post-graduate level. These courses are held in collaboration with the Instituto Camoes. The University has also a Chair on Brazilian Studies. The Goa University has cultural and scientific agreements with the Universities of Aveiro, Porto, the Universidade Moderna de Lisboa and the Instituto do Oriente.

It proposes to enhance its activities in collaboration with the Instituto Camoes as well as Universities of Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique and Macau. The Fundacao Oriente promotes the study of Portuguese language and culture through a wide range of projects in Goa and elsewhere in India. The Xavier Centre of Historical Research has been a pioneer in the teaching of Portuguese in Goa. It has an excellent library and a fine museum of Indo-Portuguese art. The Indo-Portuguese Friendship Society and several other private organizations also foster the study of Portuguese.

Whilst Goa, Daman and Diu are the main link to Lusofonia they are not its only expression. The Jawaharlal Nehru University of Delhi, the Jadavpur University in Kolkata and the University of Pondicherry have courses in Portuguese language and culture. Indian business enterprises with a global reach retain some staff knowledgeable in Portuguese, one of the major languages of the world. The President of the Portuguese Republic, Prof. Cavaco e Silva was in India last January. During his meetings with our leaders, whilst the accent was on strengthening trade and investment, the cultural dimension was not overlooked.

A Cultural Exchange Programme and an Education Exchange Programme for the years 2007-2009 were finalized on this occasion. Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between the Delhi University and the Institute Camoes and also between the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Institute of Social Sciences, Business Studies and Technology of Portugal.

During my recent visit to Lisbon it was suggested that a Chair in Hindi and Indian Contemporary Culture, funded by the Government of India, should be created at the Instituto dos Estudos Orientais in that city. I have recommended this proposal to the Ministry of External Affairs. Translation of Indian literature into Portuguese and of Portuguese literature into Hindi and other Indian languages would be welcome. Indian authors such as V.S.Naipaul and Salman Rushdie have been translated into Portuguese and the work of Portuguese writers like Fernando Pessoa and Jose Saramago is available in Indian languages.

There has always been cultural interaction in terms of art, music, and dance across a common ocean between India and the countries of East Africa, including those of Portuguese expression. Such cultural cooperation should be strengthened. A structured Dialogue could be held biennially, alternatively in India and in Portugal or other member countries of Lusofonia, to explore common perspectives on the global issues of Peace and Development.

Lusofonia connects the countries whose official language is Portuguese; yet, the lusofone space is broader. It associates several countries of Asia and of East Africa. These are countries with strong cultural linkages with India and their participation as observers in the CPLP opens possibilities for a constructive interaction among us all.

The writer is a former Union Minister. This article is based on his address to the First International Congress on Lusofonia held in Lisbon this February.

- Syndicate Features -

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