​Cultural and People-to-People Cooperation

The cultural and people-to-people contacts between Kazakhstan and India started in ancient times, continued through the ages and now they are the cornerstone of cooperation between the two countries.

Mass migration of Indo-Aryan tribes from Eurasia to India in second century B.C. added a historical similarity between the two countries. It is known that Central Asian tribes were called Kushan nomads in Indian history. They created a huge empire which stretched from the Indian North-West through Afghanistan to Central Asia where Buddhism spread later. This can be confirmed by the presence of Buddha's image on rocks near Almaty at a place called “Tamgaly”. These Buddhist sites need to be studied and we are convinced that this will be topic of future archeological research.

Another historical similarity in the cultural development of our countries started with the spread of Islam. It happened primarily through spread of Sufism in India, some of whose rituals are similar to the old religious beliefs of our people, based on the concept of unity of man and nature. Till now people in Northern India have the surname Yasawi, founder of the Sufism school in Turkestan Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. Here, the journey of Mulla Zaman from Turkestan city to India in 1500 AD for spreading Sufism may be mentioned (his grave is in the Kutub Minar complex in Delhi).

Later, the cultural relations between our countries carried on during the times of Qutubuddin Aibak, Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, Amir Taimur, Babur and Muhammed Haider Dughlat. This is proven by the composition of the armies of these generals where many of the present day Kazakh tribals were represented under the common label of Turks. According to the investigation carried out by Professor M. Abuseitova of the Institute of Oriental Studies, our peoples also had trading relations during 16-18 centuries. Kazakh horses were valued greatly in India and during this period Kazakh tribes supplied more than 40,000 horses to India.

At the time of the Mughal empire, the famous Kazakh Mohammed Haider Dughlat, who was a medieval historian and a general of the Mughal forces, had been appointed by Humayun as Mughal viceroy in Kashmir and ruled there between 1540-1551. His contribution to the development and blossoming of the region was huge. While in India, he wrote his famous poem “Jahan Nama” and the book “Tarikh-e-Rashidi”, which describes the history of the Kazakh and Kashmiri people in the Middle Ages. Considering the friendly relations between Kazakhstan and India, a copy of this book was handed over by the Aligarh Muslim University to the Kazakh cultural heritage collection in August 2001.

Cultural relations between Kazakhstan and India, which started in the ancient times, continued after Kazakhstan attained independence on 16th December, 1991.

The Agreements of cooperation in arts, education, science, mass media, sports and culture, signed in Delhi on February 22, 1992 and May 12, 2010 as also the MoU on Cooperation in Physical Culture and Sports signed in Astana on July 7, 2015 form the legal basis of our cultural relations.

Presently, the various level official meetings, activities of the Joint Kazakhstan-India Scientific and Technical Committee, programmes and bilateral agreements as well as “days of culture” being conducted by both the countries form the foundation of our cultural links. Four meetings of the Joint Science and Technology Committee have been held and the people of our countries have had the chance to enjoy cultural programs of each other during the Days of Culture of India in Kazakhstan in June 2003 and that of Kazakhstan in India in May, 2011.

Cultural centres running in the capitals of the two countries are another means of cultural links between the two countries. A “Centre of Kazakh Language and Studies” was opened on March 29, 2008 in Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi with the support of Kazakhstan Embassy in India. There, students are learning the history and literature of the Kazakh people and Kazakh language. The activities of the Centre are based on an agreement between universities according to which the L.Gumilev Eurasian National University is providing experts and Jamia Millia Islamia University is providing the finances for running the Centre.

The Indian Cultural Centre in Astana is running under the aegis of the Embassy of India in Kazakhstan. It runs programs to acquaint the Kazakhs with the Indian culture and customs. Kazakhs have the opportunity to learn Hindi, history and literature as well as to practice Indian dances and yoga. Such Indian classics as the “Mahabharata”, “Bhagvad-Gita” and “Rigveda” have been translated into the Kazakh language with the support of the Indian Cultural Centre.

India accorded full support to the international initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbaev – the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions – that takes place in Astana every three years. Representatives from India regularly take part in the Congress. More specifically, the Indian delegation consists of the president of “Somaiya Vidyavihar” Dr. Samir Somaiya (head of the delegation) and founder of the world-famous “Art of Living” Shri Shri Ravi Shankar as representatives of Hinduism, Islam is represented by the chief of “Jamaat-i-Shabab-e-Islam” Salman Al Nadvi, Zoroastrianism is represented by the president of the “World Zarathusti Cultural Foundation” Dr. Homi Dhalla.

Kazakh and Indian artists regularly enrich the cultural values of the two countries through concerts.

Concerts given by the delegation from the Kazakh National University of Arts, led by the famous violin player, the Peoples' Artist of Kazakhstan Aiman Musakhojaeva on December 4-7, 2015 and performance of the group of soloists from the Almaty Symphony Orchestra led by the illustrious world famous violinist Marat Bisengaliev accompanied by the famous opera singer Oksana Davydenko are the best examples of furthering cultural ties.

It may also be mentioned that the development of western classical music itself in India took place with the participation of musicians from Kazakhstan.

The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI), which is the first and the only western classical symphony orchestra of India, was founded in 2006 by the Chairperson of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Khushroo Suntook and the world renowned Kazakh violin virtuoso Marat Bisengaliev, who is currently the music director of the orchestra. Professional musicians from Kazakhstan form the core of the orchestra. Led by Marat Bisengaliev and with the participation of Kazakh professionals, the orchestra has performed all over the country and abroad, in the Hall of Columns, Moscow, in the Royal Opera Theatre (Muscat), Emirates Palace Hotel auditorium (Abu Dhabi), Tonhalle (Zurich), Victoria Hall (Geneva) and in Tonhalle (St. Gallen).

The Orchestra participates actively in the development of a future generation of Indian musicians that can play western classical music. For this purpose a school has been created for gifted Indian children that wish to be trained in western classical music. Graduates from the school are already giving concerts and attracting thunderous applause from discerning Mumbai residents.

Efforts are being made to establish active bilateral collaboration, especially in exchange of students and towards creating direct contacts between universities of the two countries. Around 1700 students are undergoing education in medical universities of such cities of Kazakhstan as Aktobe, Almaty, Karaganda and Semey.

With the help of such organizations as the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scores of Kazakh experts and students are getting education and are doing courses in leading Indian higher education institutions.

Visits of heads and experts from the universities of India and Kazakhstan are taking place regularly in order to establish new relations and to expand the ties. One of the latest events of this type was the visit of a delegation from Al-Farabi Kazakhstan National University led by the Vice-chancellor G. Mutanov to Delhi on March 20, 2015. He met with the vice-chancellor of Delhi University Dinesh Singh, president of the Confederation of Indian Universities P.Trivedi, Director of IIT R.K. Shevgaonkar, leadership of Amity University and S. Mohanty, Secretary, Department of Higher Education. Several agreements were signed after negotiations. The main aspects were scientific and technical collaboration, exchange of students, refreshers courses for teachers and direct contacts between universities through opening of campuses and offices.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the Kazakhstan-India IT centre at the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University on 7th July, 2015 during his visit to Kazakhstan. Earlier, in 2011 during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Eurasian National University supercomputer PARAM, which was a gift from the Indian people to Kazakhstan, was installed.

Sports and physical culture relations are also developing actively. Sports teams are taking regular part in competitions being organized in the two countries. Every year Kazakhstan organizes International Yoga Day on 15th June by arranging mass classes of this art of controlling the body.

As a mark of respect to the Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi, a memorial was installed in a park in Almaty. In January 2009, one of the central streets of Delhi was named in the honour of the great Kazakh poet Abai. In October of the same year, a memorial to the Indian poet, Nobel laureate Rabinranath Tagore was installed in the Ethnic Park “Zhastar” in Ust'-Kamenogorsk city.

Bilateral cultural relations are playing an important role in the development of friendship and partnership between the peoples of Kazakhstan and India. We believe that cultural ties thanks to historical relations and the warm feelings that the two peoples share for each other create a huge potential for greater collaboration. We are also convinced that future holds even better prospects as regards cultural relations between Kazakhstan and India.

Created at : 1.01.2017, 10:50, Updated at : 1.01.2017, 14:05