November 13, 2009
First of all, I would like to thank Jamia Milia Islamia for hosting this prestigious conference on the Roerichs, being a famous seat of learning well-known far beyond Indian borders.
No doubt you will agree that hardly it is possible to highlight the many-splendoured palette of the Roerich family’s creative genius in one short presentation. Everyone who at least once encountered this heritage knows it to be truly inexhaustible and unlimited. Many theoretical aspects of the Roerichs’ teachings and the significance of their creative work for the contemporary world have been dwelt upon during the first day of the seminar and will be also discussed today. I would like to specifically refer to such extremely important and relevant subject as the need for more diligent preservation and protection of the family’s cultural and creative heritage in Russia and India.
It requires special attention because many aspects of the Roerich family’s treasure are as relevant and topical today as ever before. Some of the material subjects and paintings are indeed in grave danger and this rings the bell of alarm. Hardly is it necessary to repeat what invaluable cultural and historic items might perish because of our sluggishness, lack of interest, coordination with management, red tape or even shadowy intrigues and practices.
We should proceed from the concept that the Roerichs, though Russian, do not belong to any particular country. Their unique heritage cannot fit any national frames, it is universal. Especially dear to Russia and India for whom this family has always served as a spiritual bridge, it belongs to entire humanity. This is the reason why fresh efforts are essential to outline and make effective and immediate steps towards its preservation and realization of the dreams of the Roerich family. This task becomes increasingly relevant now that the Roerichs’ vision of transforming our civilization is embodied in the most advanced ideas of harmonious and balanced development of mankind.
What in particular does it mean? For example, speaking about the pressing tasks at the Roerich memorial complex in Naggar, it is necessary to ensure full-fledged, well-coordinated and effective activities of the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT). It can be qualified as harmful and absolutely intolerable that over several years there has been no meeting of the Board of Trustees. The composition of the Board remains outdated. It is necessary to establish permanent working interaction within the executive committee of the Trust which would enable to tackle day-to-day routine administrative, logistical and simply household tasks in an efficient way.
We should devise a mechanism of closer cooperation between the State and Central agencies and institutions on the issues related to the Trust competence. That would allow the Russians, including the Embassy of Russia, to participate in its work more effectively, but not as back-benchers. It is very important to expedite the startup of the renovation process in the Estate in Naggar, all the more so as the funds for such renovations were allocated long ago.
It is unfortunate that the work on establishing the Roerich International College of Fine Arts (RICFA) on the basis of the existing Memorial complex has been stalled. It is well-known that this project was carefully nurtured by the Roerichs themselves as an important element in integration and synthesis of cultures. All the documentation relating to the establishment of the College is ready while the Helena Roerich Art College already functioning there is a good footstone on this path.
It is high time to monitor the activities to revive the “Uruswati” Himalayan Research Institute, which should become the core of the Naggar complex. Certain steps have been initiated in this direction, but they are far from fruition. We hope that the delegation of the International Centre of Roerichs (ICR) from Moscow that has arrived in India headed by Mr A.V.Postnikov, the newly elected President of the Centre and Director of the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, will use their forthcoming visit to Naggar as an opportunity to make a field inquiry about the present condition of the museum’s collections and to propose concrete measures to revitalise the “Uruswati”. As I understand, in addition to the organisations which have already taken part in negotiations on the subject, the administration of the Himachal Pradesh University as well as its subsidiary, the Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies, are now willing to join. In brief, this is the task of primary importance and I hope that we can move forward along this important avenue of activities during the visit of the Russian delegation to India.
May I say a few words about the Tataguni Estate near Bangarole which, as is known, should be transformed, according to Svyatoslav’s plans, into an International Art Centre. Unfortunately, these plans are far from appearing on the roadmap. All property including dozens of priceless canvases is in Home Ministry’s custody. The legal process against the Roerichs’ former secretary has been lasting for about fifteen years and has now moved to the highest authority – the Supreme Court of India.
As you can see, there are so many tasks requiring immediate action. I think we do not have any time to waste. Needless to say that our descendants will not forgive us for inactivity in this matter.
The Embassy relies very much on the assistance and support of our Indian colleagues and partners in this respect, including the ICCR. Many of them are participating in this seminar. It is our common heritage and we should make its preservation and creative development our common cause. There is no other way. The very initiative of holding this seminar and the wide response from our Indian and foreign colleagues are another proof of this.