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