Toronto: Canada will soon have its version of the Nehru Centre in London as India opens a cultural centre here next year.
Sangeeta Bahadur, deputy director at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), who was here for the just concluded Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, said, "We are planning an Indian cultural centre in Toronto. It will rival, if not outshine, the Nehru Centre in London.``
She said it will be the first such cultural centre in North America.
Bahadur said, "The new cultural centre will be ready by next year to cater to the North America Indian diaspora, just like the Nehru Centre in London.``
The Indian government is looking for a site in Toronto for the proposed centre, she said. "I will see during my trip if we can find some suitable place.``
The ICCR official said, "The idea behind the cultural centre is to showcase our rich heritage to the Indian diaspora and Canadians. It will serve as a place for regular performances of Indian dance and music and other art forms.``
She said culture is now an important tool of India`s foreign policy. "We are using our cultural heritage to build bridges with the diaspora which is our biggest asset and our biggest outreach to the world, and we want to use it to project India. It will focus on second and third generation Indo-Canadians eager to reconnect with India.``
As Canada-India relations take off after a slew of agreements signed during the past year, the ICCR official said cultural diplomacy will provide only much-needed fillip to the bilateral ties.
According to her, "Culture is India`s greatest `soft` power and it has created a huge influence here and elsewhere.``
Bahadur said though the Indian government also considered Washington for setting up the cultural centre, Toronto was preferred for reasons of land availability and the huge Indian population here.
The Indian government will seek views of the local Indian diaspora on the proposed Toronto cultural centre, she said.
The two-day fifth mini PBD ended here at the weekend.