“The centuries-old relations in the socio-cultural fields between India and Hungary have grown over the years and is now expanding to other areas like trade, education and commerce. The bilateral ties at present are excellent,” said Dr. Csaba Balogh, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary, during his second visit to India in two years.
He was here to inaugurate an extravagant art exhibition titled “Colour Drenched Sunshine – Art Nouveau Glass Works of Miksa Róth,” at Balassi Institute – Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre in the capital. He also visited Kolkota to inaugurate a room in memory of the legendary Hungarian philologist and Orientalist Alexander (Sandor) Csoma Korosi (1784-1842) at the Asiatic Society, and the country’s Consulate General office in Mumbai, which was opened three years ago.
In his meeting with the Secretary, Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the Minister apprised him of Hungary’s interest in entering into joint ventures with private companies in housing as his country has expertise and new technology in this sector. Indian company Apollo Tyres has a factory and Eicher has a permanent office in Hungary.
“Despite geographical distance, bilateral trade is also going up significantly. Our universities are known for courses in Information Technology, scientific research, agriculture, etc. Every year, 200 Indian students are also offered fully-paid scholarships to study in Hungarian universities,” Dr. Csaba Balogh added. As a sports enthusiast and a sportsman himself, the minister also sees scope for cooperation in the field. He also invited Indians to visit the country’s tourist destinations.
“Strategically located in Central Europe, Hungary, which had suffered during the recession, its GDP is growing at 3 to 4 per cent. Good infrastructure, good transport and air connectivity have helped us to achieve this figure. Paris is 1,500 km away one side from the capital Budapest and Athens the same distance on the other side. Hungary is also a safe place for investment,” the minister added.
Condemning all kinds of terrorism all over the world, he supported expansion of the United Nations Security Council to accommodate more nations.
It has been 70 years since both countries established diplomatic relations. India also played a crucial role in Hungary’s 1956 Uprising. He said Hungary always maintains the best possible relations with other countries.
He acknowledged the contributions made by two great Indians, India’s first modern artist Amrita Sher-Gil and the first Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birth anniversary was celebrated recently, in cementing bilateral relations. While Amrita was born in a noble family to a Sikh father and a Hungarian mother, and married a Hungarian cousin, Tagore reached there as a less known person, but more than 20 of his works were translated into Hungarian. The room where he was treated at Balatonfured in 1926 for heart disease is still kept in its original condition. He also mentioned the contributions of Hungarian traveller Janos Haingberger.
Determined to identify and explore the ancient homeland of the nomadic peoples, Csoma Korosi (1784-1842) traveled as a poor student since 1819 and worked at the Asiatic Society in Kolkata for a decade and mastered in Bengali language. He died in Darjeeling where his tomb is now a place of pilgrimage.
In the famous ELTE University, Sanskrit was formally included as a regular subject of study in 1873. Indian dances, music, yoga and meditations are also dear to Hungarians. There are more than 200 yoga centres and six schools of Indian dance and music in the country. An India Cultural Centre in Budapest was opened in November 2010.
Jose Kalathil is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. With more than three decades of experience in different publications in India and Nepal, he is comfortable writing on any topic under the sun.