Naggar, May 2, 2015
The Wheel of Time brings us together again and again in this serene place of God-blessed Himalayas. But this year is remarkable indeed: we have two grand jubilees.
Within a week, everyone who cherish peace on Earth will celebrate a day of unfading glory and joyous jubilation, a day of pride and sorrow, a day of supreme veneration and grateful memory marking the Victory of the people of the erstwhile USSR in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). Many generations of sons and daughters of my country see it as the most sacred and important event, which brings together and unites representatives of various nations, irrespective of their profession, religion or citizenship.
The other remarkable date, which is being celebrated these days across the globe, is the anniversary of the Roerich Pact. Eighty years ago one of the most prescient humanistic projects of Nicholas Roerich saw the light – the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments. Along with it, mankind obtained a symbol of protection of its cultural and historical heritage – the famous Banner of Peace.
It is symbolic that the Pact was signed at a time when Hitler’s fascism was already raising its ugly head in the heart of Europe. It looks like the artist intuitively saw a red light of the danger impending. Nicholas Roerich, as well as his wife Helena and sons Yuri and Svyatoslav, who worked tirelessly for the promotion and advocacy of this document, clearly realized the scale of that terrible disaster, which was casting its shadow on the whole world.
To mark the occasion the Embassy of Russia in India and the International Centre of the Roerichs are proudly presenting at the IRMT a collection of paintings of Nicholas Roerich depicting the idea of triumph of the Good over the Evil. We have called it "The Sacred Spring of Victory” as an embodiment of the essence of the Roerich Pact, as a call to preserve peace and universal cultural heritage captured by our illustrious compatriot.
The exhibition of the Roerich’s paintings on the eve of the Great Victory Day once again gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to the heroic deed of Soviet people who played the crucial role in defeating the Nazi invaders and victorious end of the Second World War. We honour our veterans and pay respects to all those who died defending the freedom and independence of the USSR, who sacrificed their lives and liberated their Motherland, who saved the world from the Nazi plague, bloodshed, untold sufferings, sorrow and tyranny. 27 millions of lives of my compatriots were lost in these battles and on the territories occupied by the Nazis. We must never forget the lessons of that war. Therefore, it is unacceptable when some irresponsible politicians in the West encourage neo-Nazism, which stirs up inter-ethnic strife and escalate military threats today.
Nowadays, cultural values are often under threat due to local armed conflicts, rampant extremism and terrorist attacks. What is happening now in the northeast of Ukraine at the doorsteps of Russia is a reason of our major anxiety. We have seen many reports of destruction of Orthodox churches in Slavyansk, Lugansk, and other cities in the Donbas area because of massive shelling by the Ukrainian forces. Definitely, the lack of reliable information about the fate of the Gorlovka art museum, the epicenter of this fierce fighting, is also a cause for grave concern. The museum has 28 paintings by Nicholas Roerich, considered as the pearl of its rich collection. Have the paintings been rescued? There is no clear answer to this question.
It is gratifying to know that India sincerely cherishes everything that is associated with the Roerich family, their priceless artistic, scientific and spiritual heritage. Every year the memorial estate of the Roerich family is visited by approximately 100,000 connoisseurs of fine arts and tourists from India and many other countries, including, of course, Russia. Now we intend to jointly propose to UNESCO that the preservation of the Roerich Estate, along with spiritual legacy of the Roerich’s family should be paid special attention.
We strongly encourage the Central Government to engage more actively in the matters of the Trust, in our joint efforts to elevate the Roerich Estate in Naggar to the level of a museum complex of world status. We should clearly define the intergovernmental status of our cooperation in this field. This must be implemented in the framework of the Russian-Indian cultural ties with the coordinating role of the Russian and Indian Embassies in New Delhi and Moscow correspondingly. There is a great scope for practical assistance, which may come in this regard from the MEA of India, Ministry of Culture and, of course, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. It goes without saying that we expect active interaction with the Himachal Pradesh authorities and our old friend, esteemed Chief Minister, Dr Virbhadra Singh.
We will do our best to guarantee maximum increase in cooperation between Russia and India within the IRMT grows and gets stronger. Let the Memorial centre in Naggar flourish, making its invaluable contribution to a more harmonious and better world.