New Delhi, Mar.29 : Cultural relations between India and Kazakhstan were given a fresh boost on Saturday with Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University and the Embassy of Kazakhstan jointly opening the first Centre for Kazakh Language and Studies in the country.
The university's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr. Mushirul Hassan, inaugurated the centre, which will fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Persian Studies and is housed in the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Hasan described Kazakhstan as one of the important republics of Central Asia, and underlined the need for universities and other institutions of academic pursuit to take the lead in understanding the finer aspects of life in Central Asia with the objective of improving bilateral and multilateral ties.
Extending full support for the centre, Dr. Hasan said the focus should first be on promoting the language, and followed by emphasis on the socio-economic and sociological aspects of Kazakh society and its long-standing and historical links with countries like India.
He also said the centre should be used to unravel the similarities and commonalities between India and Kazakhstan for the younger generation.
Kazakhstan's Ambassador to India, Dr. Kairat Umarov, used the occasion to thank the Jamia Millia Islamia University for coming forward willingly in giving space for the Centre for Kazakh Language and Studies, when other academic institutions of higher learning back off from the proposal.
He said that Kazakhstan with an average annual GDP of 10 percent was developing and moving fast, and therefore, Indian students should come forward and study the language of that country. He also announced that the best students would be entitled to a sponsored trip to Kazakhstan, a country of 100 nationalities.
The centre, he said, should be used as a "connecting bridge" between India and Kazakhstan.
Dr. Bulat Sultanov, Director of the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies, a key think tank of that country, echoed similar sentiments as Ambasador Umarov, and emphasised the progress that was being made back in his country. He wholeheartedly welcomed the promotion of the Kazakh language in "friendly countries like India".
Professor Ajay Patnaik of the Institute of Foreign Languages of Jawaharlal Nehru University presented a paper on the geopolitical significance of Kazakhstan vis-...-vis India and the rest of the world.
He said the opening of the Centre of Kazakh Language and Studies was a symbol of the efforts put in by the Embassy of Kazakhstan and Ambassador Umarov over the past two years to promote their way of life and their country in India.
Kazakhstan he said was a country that attracted one and all not only for its energy reserves, but also for the vibrancy with which it addressed issues of regional and multilateral importance, including counter-terrorism initiatives.
Ms. Hanella Anel, the teacher at the centre, and Professor Kamal Ghafar of the Department of Persian Studies also addressed the gathering on the occasion.
They said instruction in the Kazakh language has been on for two academic sessions, and future plans included introduction of a diploma programme, an advance diploma programme, graduate and post-graduate courses. Presently, the centre would start off with three students, and this would go up to eight by the end of the current academic session, they said. By Ashok Dixit