India takes pride in its 2,000-year-old craft heritage, PM Modi says
Heritage is a vital asset for economic growth and diversification, and it is echoed in India’s mantra of ‘Vikas Bhi Virasat Bhi’ which means development as well as heritage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday (August 26, 2023) as he addressed the G20 Culture Ministers’ Meeting held in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

“India takes pride in its 2,000-year-old craft heritage, with nearly 3,000 unique arts and crafts”, the Prime Minister said in his address via video message. He used the opportunity to highlight the ‘One District, One Product’ initiative which showcases the uniqueness of Indian crafts while fostering self-reliance at the same time.

Speaking about the inherent potential of culture to unite and enable everyone to understand diverse backgrounds and perspectives, Prime Minister Modi said that the work of the G20 Culture Ministers Group holds immense significance for the entire humanity. 

“We in India are very proud of our eternal and diverse culture. We also attach great value to our intangible cultural heritage," he remarked as he underlined that India has been working hard to preserve and revitalize its heritage sites.

He welcomed the efforts of G20 nations towards promoting cultural and creative industries, saying these hold profound significance as they will facilitate inclusive economic development and support creativity and innovation.

Restitution of cultural property

Prime Minister Modi said that tangible heritage is not only of material value but it is also the history and identity of a nation. “Everyone has the right to access and enjoy their cultural heritage," he remarked. Since 2014, India has brought back hundreds of such artifacts that showcase the glory of its ancient civilisation, he added.

Noting that technology is an important ally in celebrating culture, the Prime Minister mentioned India’s National Digital District Repository which is helping rediscover the stories of freedom struggle. He emphasized India’s usage of technology to ensure better preservation of its cultural landmarks while also making places of cultural importance more tourist-friendly.

Prime Minister Modi commended the G20 Culture Ministers’ working group for their pivotal role in shaping a G20 Action Plan with tangible outcomes. “Your work reflects the importance of the four Cs - Culture, Creativity, Commerce and Collaboration. It will enable us to harness the power of culture to build a compassionate, inclusive and peaceful future," he said.

The discussions on the draft declaration at the fourth G20 Culture Working Group (CWG) Meeting, under India’s Presidency, had earlier concluded in Varanasi on Friday (August 26, 2023).