Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IAF meets Critically Acclaimed Filmmaker Mr. Sourabh Sarangi

IAF Press Release

IAF meets critically acclaimed Filmmaker Mr. Sourabh Sarangi in New Delhi. The meeting was attended by IAF's President Mr. Rananjay Anand, Vice President Mrs. Ruzanna Ashughyan Anand and IAF's National Coordinator, India Mr. Karen Mkrtchyan. The team discussed many topics related to India & Armenia and emphasis was given on how film making can be part of this noble cause in possible future considering Films as strong medium of people-to-people connection in respective countries.

Mr. Sarangi's films have participated in many International Film Festivals across globe and have garnered great applause and winning awards in documentary category. His Film ""CHAR...No Man's Land"" has won "Dubai International Film Festival 2012 " and Film "BILAL" has won "Yamagata International Documentary Festival Japan 2009". Recently Mr. Sarangi participated in "GOLDEN APRICOT Yerevan International Film Festival 2013" in Yerevan.

Both sides underlined the importance of films in mutual development of people-to-people relationship in understanding respective cultures and discussed the possible partnership towards collaborative works.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Continuing the tradition of taking the group photo exhibition “India through the Armenian Lens” to the different cities of Armenia «Indo-Armenian Friendship» NGO in association with the Embassy of India organized the exhibition in Ijevan, Tavush marz (region).  

The exhibition is a part of “Indian cultural days in Tavush” program dedicated to the 66th anniversary of Indian Independence. The opening ceremony started on 9th of August at “Vernatun” galleri, Ijevan. This time the exhibition was not only including the photo collection of previous exhibitions but also paintings of two Armenian artists Vardan Avetyan and Vladimir Soghomonyan under a different group exhibition titled "Mystic reflections of India".

The distinguished guests of the opening ceremony were Ambassador of India in Armenia, Dr. Suresh Babu, Vice-Governor of Tavush region Mr. Levon Sargsyan, Mayor of Ijevan Mr. Vardan Ghalumyan and chief of department of Culture at the municipality of Ijevan Mrs Lilit Ghalumyan. 

The opening speech was given by Lusine Toroyan genral secretary of «Indo-Armenian Friendship» NGO. She presented the purpose of organizing the exhibition and welcomed all guests on behalf of the president and vice-president of the NGO Mr Rananjay Anand and Mrs Ruzanna Ashughyan.  

Thanking the organizers for initiating the project “Indian cultural days in Tavush” the distinguished guests mentioned especially the necessity of organizing more and frequent events dedicated to the friendship of the two respective countries. 

Afterwards the audiences were invited to the Cultural House of Ijevan where in the framework of the project Indian films of various genres will be screened with Russian dubbing.

The events will continue till the 15th of August – India’s 67th Independence Day.

The program is supported by the Embassy of India in Armenia, Municipality of Ijevan and Ijevan wine-brandy factory.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"India Through the Armenian Lens" in Gyumri

Our readers might remember in January 2012 IAF organized a Group Photo Exhibition titled “India through the Armenian lens” which took place at Naregatsi Art Institute and lasted 10 days instead of planned 3 days due to many requests.

Taking into consideration the great success and response that had the exhibition as well as realizing the importance to keep the population of other parts of Armenia too informed about the activities our NGO is trying to realize, we decided to take the same Photo-Exhibition to other parts of Armenia and in that series IAF decided to take it to Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia.

The exhibition was organized in collaboration with Gyumri branch of Kasa Foundation. The opening ceremony of the exhibition took place at the Kasa Community and Training Centre Gyumri on June 15th, 2013.

Honourable Ambassador of India to the Republic of Armenia Dr Suresh Babu and Mayor of Gyumri Mr Samvel Balasanyan were invited to grace the event as eminent guests.

The ceremony started with national anthems of both the countries which were followed by Indian tradition of lamp lighting.

The president of Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO welcomed the guests and the visitors and introduced them the aim and significance of organizing the exhibition. The distinguished guests greeted the organizers and expressed their gratitude for organizing such events especially out of Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia.  The representative of Kasa Foundation Ms Susanna Grigoryan in her welcome speech to the visitors and the guests ensured everyone that in future also there will be collaborations with IAF.

Welcome speeches were followed by wonderful performance of traditional Armenian dances by “Sasun” folk dance group and a surprise performance of a Hindi song by an IAF member Felix Gharibyan.

The goal of this Photo Exhibition was to represent the cultural and historical marvels of India shot by common travellers from Armenia to India. Every year many travellers visit India in different capacity, be it as tourists, as students or as businessmen. They visit India and bring memories back to Armenia. It’s their view of India which they see through their camera lens and share with their loved ones. And through these images India enters into the heart of Armenian people. This way we are emphasizing the very quintessence of people-to-people connection between two great ancient civilizations of the world.

This time the collection of the photographs was supplemented by collages made by Ms Marine Papyan which she made in India while organizing a visit of four Armenian artists to India in November 2012 by the invitation of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ministry of External Affairs.

The show continued till yesterday 22nd June, 2013 and is planned to take place in other cities and towns of Armenia to spread the message they are carrying to the entire population of the country.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Indo-Armenian Relations: Challenges & Prospects" – A Round-Table Conference


On 17th June 2013, Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO (IAF) organized a Round-Table Conference dedicated to the theme “Indo-Armenian Relations: Challenges & Prospects” at Best Western Congress Hotel in Yerevan, Armenia. The Keynote address of the conference was delivered by H.E. Dr. Suresh Babu, Hon. Ambassador of India to Republic of Armenia. 

The goal of the conference was to discuss different prospects and their corresponding challenges between India and Armenia in culture, trade, education, S&T, Sports and other relevant fields in order to canvass a conductive environment for future relation developments accordingly. The list of invitation included Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Science & Technology, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Diaspora, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Industry Associations, Businessmen, YSMU and YSLU University Representatives, UNESCO Chair in Armenia, NGOs and other relevant serious stakeholders. 

The conference was sponsored by Esculap LLC from Armenia and Druck & Bindung Machinery Corp. from India.

During the round-table discussion, which was meant to be quite interactive, Indo-Armenian bilateral relations was discussed in different perspectives by different participants and stakeholders who are interested in the development of these relations.

Before starting the discussion, Mr. Rananjay Anand, Co-Founder & President of Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO gave a presentation about IAF with its brief history and activities so far. He emphasized that there is a strong need to tap the hidden potential of Indo-Armenian bilateral relations, and IAF could be one of the strong multiplying forces to facilitate the same, provided they have strong support from respective Governments and industry associations from both respective countries. According to him, the business exchange between India and Armenia is not encouraging, which could be translated as strong opportunities for interested businessmen. 

Time to Look Towards East

While delivering the Keynote Address of the conference, the Indian Ambassador Dr. Suresh Babu reiterated that after the collapse of Soviet Union, Armenia entered into a new phase and India was among the first nations that recognized Armenia’s Independence and established diplomatic relations with Republic of Armenia. He said, “Indo-Armenian diplomatic understanding on world platform is excellent at different levels and we’re now working to take this special relationship to advance level. Recently we’ve concluded 20th anniversary of establishment of Indo-Armenian diplomatic relationship.” 

Dr. Babu highlighted the need of sending cultural troupe from Armenia to India, as the main obstacle is lack of awareness among Indians about Armenia.

 He said, for Armenia, it’s time to look towards east, especially towards natural friend like India, which is currently playing a leading role in world economy. India has many things to offer to Armenia as her partner, be it knowledge sharing, IT contribution, Business exchange, Education collaboration or even sports. India offers ITEC scholarship for its developing friendly countries, out of which 40 seats are offered to Armenia in a year, which is a great initiative for knowledge sharing with friend countries. The scholarship is completely borne by Govt. of India. Apart from that India has signed MoUs with Govt. of Armenia for Scientific research exchange. He said they are planning to bring in all these activities and information on website, so that Armenian participants could benefit from the same. He emphasized that Armenians have one of the best brains in the world for IT and S&T, with which even India could be benefited.

Mr. Artyom Khachatryan, MFA
He underlined the fact that the weakest link between Indo-Armenian relationships is Trade-Deficit. The need of the hour is to encourage mutual development of business. He said both of the countries are looking for the ways to develop the same on higher scale. But the biggest challenge is spreading awareness and showing the real prospects of investments in respective countries.  He said if Govt. of Armenia could work out soon on a direct flight from Delhi to Yerevan, it would sort out few business-related issues.

He said Armenia is already contributing to India in medical field with many of Indian students studying in YSMU. However, it’s time to look beyond allopath and take forward the benefits of Ayurveda and Yunani (Greek) methodology offered by India. He said Govt. of India is already offering scholarship programs in both courses, which is fully paid by Indian side. Armenian students should be encouraged to pursue the same, so that they come back to Armenia, open their clinic and practice with recognition from Govt. of Armenia.

Mr. Mikael Narimanyan, Rector, YSMU

The rector of YSMU, Mr. Michael Narimanyan complemented this proposal from hon. Ambassador by saying that YSMU is ready to collaborate in any research offered by India and they would like to know more about traditional  and conventional medical system of India.

Ms. Lusine Fldjyan

Ms. Lusine Fldjyan, the Vice Rector for International Affairs, YSLU after Brusov came up with few suggestions in field of education collaborations between Indian and Armenia universities, which was well taken by the participants.
“We will continue to show our support to Armenia in a very humble way”, said Dr. Babu.

Mr. Eduard Kirakosyan, Executive Director of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia said that union members have already partnership with few Indian businessmen but it’s time to develop more. 

Mr. H. Sarafian from Esculap LLC said that since 1996 Esculap is in business with Indian Pharma Manufacturers. This conference may bring the confidence in Armenian consumers, as they have a certain apprehension about Indian medicines, but company’s experience shows that it’s in par with European standard.

Bollywood Shooting in Armenia

Mr. Rananjay Anand, the President of IAF and moderator of the conference highlighted in his presentation with special mention of Tourism Development, which is considered to be one of the the main strengths of Armenian Economy. He cited the UNWTO report, which predicts, India will supply about 50 Million Outbound Tourists by 2020, which will be the largest outbound tourism market. 
He suggested if Govt. of Armenia could attract the “Bollywood Industry”, the Hindi Movie Industry, it would change the complete scenario of Armenian Tourism Market. The idea was strongly endorsed by Dr. Suresh Babu, Hon. Ambassador of India, who said it’s not only about Bollywood, but India’s Southern parts too are very rich in movie making and they vouch for beautiful foreign locations across globe, provided they get excellent support and subsidies from host country. So even if that part could be tapped, it will solve the purpose. It’s not only about destination promotion, but directly it will increase employment opportunities for local Armenians too. But for all this Govt. of Armenia should come out with a strong and concrete plan to woo Bollywood Industry of India.

Mr. Mekhak Apresyan,  
 Head of Tourism & Territorial Economic
 Development Department 
 Ministry of Economy
Responding with enthusiasm, Mr. Mekhak Apresyan, the Head of Tourism & Territorial Economic Development Department from Ministry of Economy stated that they would like to look into this matter seriously and would like to discuss it further with all stakeholders to explore how Govt. of Armenia could approach this in right direction. 

Mr. Pankaj Saxena, HOC, Embassy of India informed that Armenia’s neighboring countries Turkey and Georgia are doing this excellently and they are already reaping out the results. He said if a country like Afghanistan, could attract Indian Movie-Makers, then Armenia is far ahead of them. 

Ice-breaking conference

Mr. Rananjay Anand urged all participants of the conference to speak and participate frankly in order to address the real issues. The participants responded well and asked questions related to business problems in Armenia, education opportunities in India and many relevant issues to the representatives from both sides, i.e Indian Embassy and Ministries of Govt. of Armenia. In an answer to the question from a science enthusiast, Ms. Lilit Vardanyan, from UNESCO Chair in Armenia and also in-charge of IAF’s Science & Technology Club, said that she got scholarship from Govt. of India in her scientific researches and she could do her researches in such a manner, which she couldn’t find in even European Institutes and that helped her to contribute back to Armenia in her research with Lake Sevan’s water project.

While concluding the conference Mr. Rananjay Anand thanked all participants and stakeholders and announced that this is just beginning. If they have support from all stakeholders, IAF could come up with more events like this. 

The event was concluded on a very positive note!


MEDIA REPORTS: AZG by Inga Perosyan

Friday, April 5, 2013

Holi and Easter celebrations with children in Armenia

On 1st April Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO in collaboration with “Tsil Busats” children’s harmonious development centre organized the event “Holi and Easter celebrations with children in Armenia” dedicated to Indian Holi and Armenian Easter. The newly appointed Ambassador of India to the Republic of Armenia H. E. Dr. Suresh Babu was the chief guest of the event. Other embassy staff were also present with their family members.

Paintings by children

The main goal of the event was to make children aware of the traditions of India and Armenia. These children are specially trained to paint their expressions through their feelings while listening to the music. They had a special lesson dedicated to Indian Holi festival during which they were told an Indian legend about Holi. 

At the event the children presented to the guests their own paintings which were painted under the Indian traditional music and were showing their expressions about India. Then with the help of Ms. Moli Gayan the children were learning how to wear the Indian traditional dress - SARI.

The Armenian folk dance group “Sasun” was invited to perform  traditional Armenian dances. Children also had prepared Armenian dances and songs dedicated to Easter and some small performances. Expressing his impressions Mr. Ambassador said that it was really nice to see children’s performance and especially their spectacular paintings. 

The event was followed by playing Holi with different colors and tasting traditional Armenian Easter food. After that Indian Embassy presented gifts for children: books - 
"Panchatantra stories" translated into Armenian and Easter cakes.

On behalf of Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO and “Tsil Busats” art studio a small gift was presented to the Embassy of India: a painting of a child of the art studio to keep best memories about this very colorful and joyful day. 


AZG - by Inga Petrosyan

Friday, January 25, 2013

Armenian Theologist, Indian Businessman, Cross Paths on Social Networking Site: Cooperation, Culture Jolt & Marriage Follow | Hetq

By Sona Avagyan

Indians say that whenever foreigners come to India, they experience two shocks.

First is the cultural shock, because India is completely chaotic, and you need to realize yourself by your own definition in that ocean. But once foreigners start living in India and explore it, they are completely subsumed in the country. The second shock is when they have to return to their countries, but don’t want to, even if they don’t know the reason why they have become so attached to India.

But Armenian theologist Ruzanna Ashughyan had different feelings when leaving India in 2011 after having studied in Delhi for 2 months, because she knew she would return for permanent residence.

In 2012, Yerevan-based Ruzanna Ashughyan married Delhi-based Indian businessmen Rananjay Anand. After studying German at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, he went on to complete his MBA. They had had a chance meeting back in 2009 on a social networking website.

Rananjay, like many other Indians, had never heard about Armenia. He even thought Armenia might be a city in another country. Ruzanna, like many other Armenians, was not knowledgeable about modern-day India. Rananjay was amazed when Ruzanna asked him if people were very poor in India.
“So we started discussing each other’s country, people, philosophy, culture, religion, everything, because it was all new to us. During that time we came to know that there was a very special relationship between India and Armenia which lost its former brilliance in the course of time,” Rananjay says.

When Rananjay Anand came to Armenia for the first time in 2011, he and Ruzanna Ashughyan had already decided to get married.

Rananjay will never forget hospitality of old man at Geghard

Rananjay says that whatever he was trying to do in Armenia, people responded positively. He pleasantly recalls an incident that happened when they were having a picnic at Geghard Monastery. An old man was crossing the river carrying 10-12 bottles of water. Rananjay held some bottles to help him. When Rananjay gave all the bottles back, the old man gave one to Rananjay and said: “Please leave it, this is a sunny day and you may feel thirsty later. You are our guest and we would love to see you well.”

“I cannot forget this my lifetime and I am deeply in love with Armenia. That gave me a great impression of a counrty and I always tell this story to my friends in India, about the great hospitality and people we have in Armenia,” Rananjay says.

As for Ruzanna, when she first went to India she was surprised seeing so much diversity, so much population. On the other hand, she was surprised at seeing so much development in the country she thought to be under-developed.

India is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies. At the same time, India is a country of coexistence and paradox. In Rananjay’s words, you have very posh buildings and five star hotels in India, but poverty is a stone’s throw away. You have very well organized infrastructure in India, where the rich and poor walk side by side.

“In India you can find everything. We went to Kashmir in June. Kashmir is in Himalayan Mountains. When I was in the forested mountains, I felt as if I was in Dilijan or Ijevan. Later on, I visited the south. And that was totally different experience. I was amazed that this is the same India,” Ruzanna Ashughyan Anand says.

Rananjay also cannot say that he knows the whole of India. “It’s a huge country. India is an ocean and living in India is like living in an ocean. An entire life is not enough to explore India,” he says. Whenever Rananjay Anand is in Armenia he tries to explore Armenia as well. He has been to Khor Virap, Garni, Etchmiadzin and Tsakhkadzor. Now, he and Ruzanna plan to visit Dilijan, Ijevan and Artsakh.

Rananjay plans to learn Armenian completely and Ruzanna plans to learn Hindi completely

The couple has been living in Delhi for eight months now. They celebrated New Years in Armenia. At their wedding in Yerevan last year, the entire tiny Indian community of Armenia was present. Achal Kumar Malhotra, then the Ambassador of India to Armenia, and his wife gladly agreed to step in to take the place of Rananjay’s parents. Given the short notice, no one from Rananjay’s family managed to come to Yerevan for the wedding.

When asked about what they do to benefit from their different national identities, cultures and lifestyles, rather than letting them hinder their life, Rananjay responds that it’s all about giving space and respect to each other.

“Marriage is something that is dependent not only upon culture. Any marriage can be successful or unsuccessful anywhere in the world, whether it is an Indian or an Armenian marriage. Once you understand each other, it’s not a problem. We always share our difficulties and challenges,” Rananjay says. Ruzanna adds that without the support of one’s partner, it’s near impossible to survive when faced with a new set of circumstances outside one’s native country.

Rananjay's parents live in Bihar state, quite a distance from Delhi. Whenever “Diwali” and “Chhath” are celebrated, Rananjay and Ruzanna visit his parents. “Diwali”, the festival of lights, is celebrated six days before “Chhath”, the worship of the sun, the main and most sacred festival in Bihar. There is a tradition in India to celebrate these festivals with families.

“Chhath" festival “Diwali” festival, photos from
Rananjay and Ruzanna generally speak English to each other and sometimes Hindi, the official language of India. After settling in India, she started learning Hindi, because Rananjay’s family always ask Ruzanna to communicate with them in their mother language. In turn, Rananjay is learning Armenian because Ruzanna’s family wants to communicate with Rananjay without a translator.

“Our plan is that I will learn Armenian completely and she will learn Hindi completely because this is the main communication hardship between our families,” Rananjay Anand says.

Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO, founded by Rananjay and Ruzanna, operates both in Armenia and India

In 2009, after getting acquainted with Ruzanna, Rananjay started the India-Armenia Friendship Group on Facebook to promote mutual awareness of each. The Facebook group now has approximately 2,000 members from Armenia and India, as well as some from other countries who just want to know more about Armenia and India.

In 2011, Rananjay and Ruzanna founded the Indo-Armenian Friendship NGO (IAF) and registered it in Armenia. The NGO’s core team is up of twenty people who carry out the group’s projects. From the very start, then Ambassador of India Achal Kumar Malhotra helped IAF with his advice and encouragement.

Ruzanna Ashughyan Anand says that the number of Armenians now living in Calcutta has dwindled to a handful from centuries past. In Calcutta Armenian life revolves around the Armenian Church. But in Delhi one can meet students and tourists from Armenia, as well as newly established Indo-Armenian families in which the wives are mainly Armenian. The IAF tries to facilitate connections amongst the Armenians of India. In 2011, the NGO celebrated Armenia’s Independence Day in India on a small scale.

The Indian community in Armenia is also very small, consisting of mainly students  at Yerevan State Medical University, Indian Embassy employees, and a tiny business comminity. IAF is in close communication with the Indian students of medical university and alumni who have returned to Delhi. The Indian students in Armenia celebrate “Diwali” every year. In November 2010 they celebrated “Diwali” with the support of the India-Armenia Friendship Facebook Group. Rananjay hopes that if everything goes well, “Diwali” in Yerevan will be celebrated not only mainly among Indian students, but that more Armenians could come and enjoy the festival.

At India’s top institution, Jawaharlal Nehru University International Food Festival is organized every year on Republic Day of India. It is the responsibility of the students from a particular country to come together, prepare food representing their country and sell it at their stall. Three students from Armenia study at Jawaharlal Nehru University. In 2011, they organized Armenian Food Taste, displaying lavash, tolma and matsnabrdosh. Rananjay says they supported the effort to make people more aware that there is an Armenian stall. In his words, all the Armenia food was sold.

In January 2012 the group photo exhibition “India through the Armenian Lens” dedicated to the 63th anniversary of the Republic Day of India was organized in Yerevan. Rananjay organized the exhibition from India and Ruzanna organized it in Armenia with the support of the Embassy of India. At the opening ceremony, the Indian students performed the Indian national dance “Bharatanatyam.”
More than 50 photos were exhibited. They were taken by Armenians who had visited the new India and just clicked away with their cameras; they were far from professional photographers. Two photos taken by Liz Chater, a UK-based family history researcher specializing in Armenians in India and an India-Armenia Friendship Facebook group member, were also exhibited. Initially the exhibition was to last three days, but people responded so warmly that IAF extended it to ten days.

Holy Virgin Mary Armenian Church, Saidabad Edward the VII Arch, Calcutta, “India through the Armenian Lens” exhibition, photos by Liz Chater
The IAF’s last program was in Delhi in December 2012, when the NGO organized an interactive session between Dr. T. Suresh Babu, the newly appointed Ambassador of India to Armenia, and members of the IAF. Former Ambassador Malhotra was also invited. The newly appointed ambassador has yet to arrive in Armenia.

The IAF wants to take cultural troupes from Armenia to India in order to organize Armenian cultural events there. The most challenging thing for the NGO is to fund these programs. So far IAF has been funding these programs itself, with the support of the Embassy of India in Armenia.

“We just want the two countries to come closer together, to the extent possible. Once we succeed, it will change many things. We’re not so big an organization that we can do it all on our own. Without the support of others and our governments, we cannot realize our vision. But we should always try instead of sitting back and doing nothing,” Rananjay and Ruzanna say.

In Rananjay’s words, person to person contact has been the biggest achievement of IAF since its establishment. He is sure that connecting people and educating them about each other’s countries, even at a very basic level, is very important work.