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Unity in diversity - this is the strength of India

 We decided to start our new column "Tender Diplomacy" in "Diplomatic Spectrum" magazine with her because this extraordinary Indian woman stands out very much from the wives of Ambassadors in the Diplomatic Corps in Bulgaria. She radiates dignity, fine elegance, generous kindness and unquestionable beauty. Devoted wife and mother, she is always beside her husband - H. E. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Sachdeva, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to the Republic of Bulgaria. We interviewed her shortly after the celebration of the new 2016 and on the occasion of the National Day of India - January 26. Therefore, our conversation was associated with these holidays ...

 

- Dear Mrs. Sachdeva, as per the Indian calendar since 1952 New Year has been celebrated on 22 March, on leap-year on 21 March. Please tell us how it is celebrated. In Europe we celebrate on 01 January, do you also do something on that date in India?

- The Saka calendar is the national calendar of India with 22 March as the New Year and on 21 March in the leap year. This calendar like the Gregorian calendar has 365 days and 12 months. Reference to Saka calendar are made in the documents, news broadcast, calendars etc published by the Indian Government. In most Indian houses, Saka calendar is kept along with Gregorian calendar. For day to day use, Gregorian calendar is adopted whereas Saka calendar continues to be relevant for calculations of days of religious significance. In many parts of India, Saka New Year, which marks the beginning of spring season, is celebrated with preparation of special dishes. All over India, people also celebrate New Year on 1st January.

- We start with holidays, so let’s continue with them. 26 January is the Day of the Republic in India. What does that date mean for Indian people?

- 26 January is celebrated as the Republic Day of India. On this day in the year 1950, the Constitution of India came to force. The date of 26 January was selected to honor the memory of declaration of Independence of the year 1930. This day is celebrated all over India and the festivities include parades and cultural programmes. A grand parade is organized in the Capital New Delhi.

- Recently you and Ambassador hosted a reception on the occasion of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Day (ITEC Day). What is the attitude in general of Indian people towards science and education?

- India is an ancient civilization where traditionally high priority has been accorded to education. It is worth mentioning that teachers are held in high esteem in the Indian Society. In India, we celebrate Teacher’s Day on 5th September, which happens to be the birthday of India’s second President H.E. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who was a distinguished scholar and world renowned philosopher. In general, each Indian parent likes their children to acquire good education and works hard to achieve this objective.

- There is huge interest from Bulgarian side towards Indian culture. Besides institutions, there are also numerous small associations and clubs, which popularize Indian music, dances, Ayurveda, yoga, etc. What in your opinion does attract Bulgarians (and the world)?

- I am happy that there is huge interest for Indian culture in Bulgaria. During my stay of more than a year in Bulgaria, I have met many Bulgarians, who are very knowledgeable about India and have helped in spread of this knowledge to others. I believe that people to people contacts between our two countries, which are ancient civilizations, have existed for many centuries. Over the years, works of many Indian scholars and poets have been translated in Bulgarian language. I notice that Bulgarians are curious about India’s cultural diversity, its numerous cultural heritages, and its way of life. It is heartening that Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian music and Indian TV serials are very popular in Bulgaria.

- How and to what extent do different cultures in India affect and interact with each other?

- India is a multicultural society with so many religions, languages, festivals, dresses etc. Photo exhibition ‘Religions of India’, which is currently displaying in Bulgaria, showcases some aspects of Indian cultural diversity as well as moods and colors of celebrations in India. Unity in diversity is the strength of India and it inspires everyone to live together peacefully.

- We know that you have an incredible variety of national dresses and dances relating to different regions. Tell us something more about them. 

- In view of wide range of geographical features and variations in climatic conditions, India has an incredible variety of traditional dresses and dances. India is mainly an agrarian society where people love to wear colorful clothes. Saree is the most popular female attire. All over India, there are various occasions for community dances and musical events to celebrate change of climatic seasons, harvesting time and festivals. Other than folk music and dances, India has many classical dances which have been practiced for thousands of years. Most important classical dances are Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Manipuri, Kathakali, Kuchipudi and Odissi.

- Indian cuisine is also famous around the world. Why do you think is that?

- Like everything else, India has immense diversity in its cuisine. Indian diaspora abroad have played an important role in popularizing Indian cuisines across globe. Indian ingredients especially spices add flavor and aroma to the Indian cuisine. Among Indian cuisines, dishes from South India are quite popular in South East Asia, USA and others. North Indian dishes particularly Mughlai preparations appeal to people across globe.

- When and how did you cross path with your husband? For the last 30 years H. E. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Sachdeva has been part of the Foreign Diplomatic Service of India. He has been posted in Egypt, Yemen, Holland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Singapore. His last posting before you came to Bulgaria was Ambassador of India in Cambodia. Do you always accompany him in his work abroad?

- We are happily married for more than thirty years. We got married before my husband joined the Indian Foreign Service. Since marriage, we have always travelled together to different parts of the world for his diplomatic postings. I have enjoyed the diplomatic life which provided me an opportunity to visit so many countries with different geographical features, climatic conditions, cultures, cuisines and dresses. Living experiences from each station has enriched my understanding of the world and broadened my outlook on issues faced by the humankind. In my view, wife of Ambassador also plays an important role in promotion of bilateral relations with the host country. Through regular interactions with local dignitaries and diplomatic corps at social gatherings and diplomatic events, she has the opportunity to project correct image of her country. I enjoy hosting parties, which I believe is a good way to reach out to people and achieve better understanding.

- You have two sons. What do they do? What did you strive to teach them?

- I have two sons; the elder son Rohit is doing Post Doctorate at a hospital in Toronto Canada and the younger son Shivaang is studying at Technical University Delft in the Netherlands. During their upbringing, I have taught them to be hard working and confident while retaining their Indian values. I am happy that both of them have performed well.

- What are your favorite things to do in your spare time?

- I like to remain connected with my family and friends, therefore, I like to spend some time daily on social media tools like whatsapp, facebook and Skype. Practice of few Yoga exercises and some walk form part of my daily routine. Once a week, I join my friends for a daylong session of cards game “Bridge”. My hobbies include experimenting with different cuisines.

- You have been in Bulgaria for a little more than a year. What are your impressions of our country?

- I have enjoyed my stay in Bulgaria and have visited important touristic sites of the country. I am impressed with cultural heritages of Bulgaria and have found Bulgarians extremely hospitable and friendly. I enjoy Bulgarian cuisine and I am impressed with the quality of yoghurt and honey available here. Being a vegetarian, I am delighted with availability of wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits. Bulgaria is gifted with beautiful landscape with interesting beaches and ski resorts. 

 

Photos are provided of the Embassy of the Republic of India in the Republic of Bulgaria.