2nd Culture Working Group meeting at Bhubaneswar

May 17: The 2nd Culture Working Group (CWG) meeting’s discussion sessions came to a close on  May 16, 2023. The delegates participated in the discussion sessions focusing on the 3rd and 4th priority areas outlined by the CWG: ‘Promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries and Creative Economy’ and ‘Leveraging Digital Technologies for the Protection and Promotion of Culture’. The discussions offered valuable insights, which are expected to culminate into tangible and action-oriented recommendations that have the potential to shape the cultural sector and concerning policy frameworks globally.

The first two sessions of the CWG meeting witnessed the delivery of statements by the delegates, followed by an open discussion on the third and fourth priority areas. Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs Smt Meenakashi Lekhi concluded the second session of the day with a special address. The concluding session outlined details and the timeline concerning the working process of the Culture Working Group going forward.

In her interaction with the media, Echoing Prime Minister’s desire to take India to greater heights during the Amrit Kaal i.e. 25 years from now, the Minister said, India has to work really hard to regain the position it once used to be in. Underlining the cohesive nature of culture, the Minister said, “Culture can be a way of engagement to bring everyone together, especially at a time when a lot of stress and strain are showing up. Stating “Culture Connects”, the Minister said that for the first time in G-20 Culture working group has been created as a separate group. She said when G-20 talks about harmony and peace, culture is something one needs to look at. She expressed happiness that the second culture working group meeting was held in the state of Odisha or Utkal, which transliterates into ‘Utkarsh Kala ki Bhumi’, which means the land of glorious art and culture.

On 16th May 2023, the delegates were taken for a specially curated visit to the Konark Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site which is located in the Puri district of Odisha. The Temple, dedicated to the Hindu sun god, Surya, was built in the 13th century and is considered a masterpiece of Kalinga architecture. Later, in the evening the G-20 delegates were feted with the Gotipua dance performance by local artists, which is one of the ancient dance forms associated with the temple tradition of Shree Jagannath temple, Puri. Union Minister Smt. Lekhi felicitated the artists who gave their best in creating a fine piece of Odisha’s cultural treasure to the immense pleasure of the visiting dignitaries and delegates.

With this, the four days long activities and brainstorming sessions under the G-20 second culture group meeting came to a close. The 2nd Culture Working Group Meeting attended by delegates from G20 members, guest nations, and several international organizations, provided a platform to discuss pressing issues faced by the culture sector to further deliberation towards tangible, action-oriented recommendations. The meetings of the Culture Working Group spread over six sessions and two days, focused on 4 key priority areas articulated under the Culture Track of India’s G20 Presidency. The 4 priority areas are the Protection and Restitution of Cultural Property; Harnessing Living Heritage for a Sustainable Future; Promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries and Creative Economy; and Leveraging Digital Technologies for the Protection and Promotion of Culture.

On the concluding day, the Minister along with the delegates visited the famous caves at Udaygiri, which date back more than 2000 years. They also visited the museum at the Gandhi peace centre at Bhubaneswar which is dedicated to the life and vision of Mahatma Gandhi.

On being asked about the opinion of the delegates who were taken on a visit to the ancient rock-cut caves of Udaygiri on the outskirt of the capital Bhubaneswar, the Minister said that it was a knowledge-sharing experience for the delegates. She said they were very amazed at the superb craftsmanship and the culture of Odisha.

The CWG meetings aim to promote an inclusive and collaborative forum to deliberate on key issues concerning the cultural sector and its pivotal role in sustainable development. The meeting seeks to promote a global dialogue on cultural diversity and its role in fostering inclusivity and sustainability.

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