India-Russia Cultural Relations

India-Russia Cultural relations are from ages and were developed even before India got independence in 1947. The linkages that started with Afanasy Nikitin reaching India even before Vasco-de-Gama revealed India to the West, Gujarati traders settling in Astrakhan and the establishment of the Russian theatre in Kolkata have all brought peoples of our countries closer. Russian scholars like Gerasim Lebedev and Nicholas Roerich have travelled to India and studied Indian culture and philosophy. Russian literature and thinkers like Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Pushkin and others have had a profound influence and contribution to Indian literature and thought. Several generations of Russians have grown up watching Indian films. Yoga in Russia has been growing and becoming increasingly popular since the 1980s, particularly in majors cities and urban centres. The number of Indian tourists to Russia and Russian tourists to India has shown significant increase. The two countries are taking steps to facilitate easier access to each other’s citizens.

Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre, Moscow, established in 1989, has been mandated with the task of maintaining India’s cultural relations with Russian Federation. It has been working in close coordination with the number of Russian Universities in organising a number of cultural events disseminating Indian Culture in Russian Federation. In addition, it has been equipped with three India-based teachers who are conducting classes in Kathak Dance, Bollywood Dance, Indian Folk Dance, Tabla and Hindustani Vocal Music. Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi, has signed a Protocol on the Organization of Culture Festivals with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, wherein cultural troupes of both the countries visit India and Russia alternate years. In 2019, four groups from India, - Kathak Dance Group led by Ms Aditi Mangaldas, Hindustani Kalari Group led by Shri Remesan Marakkar Valappil, Bollywood Dance Group led by Mr Sunil Gupta and Shehnai Group led by Mr Ashwani Shankar and Mr Sanjeev Shankar visited many regions of the Russian Federation. The said Protocol is renewed regularly.

In addition, there are Indian Russian Working Groups and Cultural Exchange Programme which also caters to the cultural and tourism needs of both the countries. Besides, there are four scholarship schemes for the nationals of Russian Federation to give them a chance to study in India to pursue higher education, in humanities, science, ayurveda, dance and music. Festivals of India take place in intervals to give exposure of Indian culture to Russian citizens. ‘Days of Indian Culture’ are organised in regions of Russian Federation to disseminate Indian Culture and master classes in dance and music are conducted by India-based teachers. Similarly, there are number of Indian study Centre where Indian languages and Indian subjects are taught. In 2022, JNCC has organised a number of cultural events relating to Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (75th Years of Indian Independence and 75th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations of India and Russia) in Russian Federation.