- 20 Nov 2023
On December 16, 2022, the Kashi Tamil Sangamam concluded when Mr. Amit Shah, the union Home Minister gave a farewell speech remarking that this is not the end, but only the "beginning of a cultural renaissance". To those who are unaware of the context, the Kashi-Tamil Sangaman was inaugurated on 19th November 2022 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This cultural exchange program was organised to celebrate the "Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat'' initiative. This program is a conscious attempt to revive the old culture of the two cities and to reunite them together.
The Kashi Tamil Sangamam is a celebration of the commonness shared between North and South India, especially in the context of its culture. It is an indication of the need to bring the North and South together and this is done through sharing the knowledge systems and using cultural links. The endeavour has been managed by the Ministry of Education, along with the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Ministries concerning Culture, Information and Broadcasting, Food, and Textiles have also been included.
The program is in sync with the National Education Policy (2020). The NEP emphasises the goal of combining the richness of the Indian Knowledge System with the modern educational system. IIT Madras and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are the organisations that facilitated the execution of the program.
Why Kashi and Tamil Nadu?
Kashi is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is the spiritual capital of India and as Mark Twain puts it, the city is "older than History''. Kashi, also known as Banaras or Varanasi stands out for its ancient essence and brings devotees a step closer to spiritual realisations. The Tamil Nadu state in the South has a rich culture and many historical landmarks. Tamils take pleasure in being deeply ingrained in the culture of their homeland, from the majesty of Gopurams to the depth of its artistic production. Two of the most significant cities that serve as reminders of the depth of ancient Indian civilization are without a doubt Kashi and Tamil Nadu.
Kashi is full of ancient temples, its narrow lanes are packed with a rich heritage, and people are immersed in spirituality. Tamil Nadu is also known for its art of spinning, from artisans to sculptors, one finds an appreciation of heritage and culture in every household. In fact, Higher education in Southern India has long been thought to be incomplete without a scholar's trip to Kashi. Prior to travelling to Kashi for darshan, Rameswaram residents would take a bath in the Koti Tirtha (in the temple), and they would bring Ganga Amrit back from Kashi for abhiseka to the temple in Rameswaram.
As R.N Ravi, the Governor of Tamil Nadu says that Kasi-Tamilagam, is an "ageless bond". He writes in one of his articles in The Hindu that Kings from Tamil Nadu patronised Kasi. One Pandya King, called Parakrama Pandya, has built a replica of Kasi known as Tenkasi (Kasi of the South). It has a strong connection on the basis of trade too.
The government initiative under Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat through Kashi Tamil Samagam reflects the understanding to connect the North and the South through the ancient cities.
Significance of the Sangamam:
India has always celebrated the conjunctions, then be it of rivers, of ideologies, of sciences or of knowledge. PM Modi, in his address, mentioned that India celebrates every confluence of culture and tradition. He remarked that "Kashi is the cultural capital of India and Tamil Nadu is the centre of India's antiquity and pride."
Sanskrit and Tamil are ancient languages of India. As the Prime Minister put it "In Kashi, we have Baba Vishwanath, while in Tamil Nadu we have blessings of Lord Rameshwaram. Both Kashi and Tamil Nadu are immersed in Shiva".
For the purpose of rediscovering and fusing our culture's old wisdom with contemporary thought, philosophy, technology, and craftsmanship, the Sangamam established a special platform. It also encourages ideas that will benefit our craftspeople, weavers, business owners, and traders. The glittering silk sarees from Kanchipuram and the Banarasi silk sarees from Varanasi, are well known in their respective regions but the Sangamam allows the artisans to reach beyond their traditional markets. Interaction between weavers and business owners from the two regions, as well as exposure to contemporary methods of branding, quality assurance, marketing, product consistency, and value addition, will be very beneficial.
The Sangamam is compliant with various other government policies. For instance, the government is actively encouraging the "One District One Product Scheme" that would introduce the products manufactured locally or regionally to the global market. As a brand ambassador of these goods, Shri Narendra Modi presents them to foreign leaders. Varanasi's traditional wooden toys are featured in international trade shows and as a result, receive more inquiries for export. Other government programs like the Open Network for Digital Commerce and the Government E-marketplace will also have a significant positive impact on traditional products.
Our goal to have a developed economy by 2047 depends heavily on the textile industry, which has a large deal of job-creating potential. By 2047, the Indian textile market is projected to increase at a CAGR of 12–13%, reaching around $2 trillion, with double-digit export growth. During the Sangamam, the government held a "textiles conclave." At a discussion on Amrit Kaal Vision 2047, a number of prominent figures from Tamil Nadu and Kashi from various sectors of the textile industry discussed their experiences and exchanged ideas. The government's goal of increasing textile exports to $100 billion by 2030 and generating new opportunities in the industry delighted and inspired them.
The 5F formula, which refers to "Farm, Fibre, Fabric, Fashion, and Foreign," will speed up industry growth and change the way that farmers and weavers live. To realise this aim, Kashi and Tamil Nadu are crucial players. The government is also promoting technology textiles since they have such tremendous potential. These goods range from protective apparel, armoured vests, and construction to fabrics with practical uses in automobiles. Another area of concentration is man-made fibre, which has excellent growth and export potential.
As India celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the promotion of the concept of "Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat" has been one of the government's main priorities, guided by the Prime Minister's vision. Another endeavour reflecting this aim has been the month-long "Kashi Tamil Sangamam" program. With this initiative, the goal is to honour, reaffirm, and rediscover the long-standing ties between Tamil Nadu and Kashi, two of the most significant and historic centres of learning in the nation.
The program intended to give individuals from all walks of life, such as academics, students, philosophers, traders, artisans, and artists from the two regions, the chance to come together, exchange their knowledge, cultures, and best practices, and learn from one another's experiences. More than 2500 Tamil Nadu delegates visited Kashi. They took part in seminars, site visits, etc. to network with locals who share their interests, trades, and professions.
While the diversity of this nation is well known, Sangamam like that of Kashi-Tamil Sangamam serves as a binding force of unity between different regions of the country. They allow for an amalgamation of different cultures while appreciating their unique characteristics and that in itself, is an effort worth complimenting.