Paris: Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani, who is currently on an official visit to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, has reaffirmed India's commitment to the ideals of UNESCO while participating in discussions of "The Leader's Forum" on November 16 and 17.
Addressing the Leaders Forum, Irani affirmed India's solidarity with the people and Government of France in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris.
Later in the day and on behalf of the people of India, she placed a wreath at the Bataclan Theatre in honour of those who had lost their lives.
Recalling the words of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, when in 1947 he had expressed the deep Indian interest in the efforts of UNESCO to "secure peace through educational and cultural activities", the minister highlighted the recent pioneering initiatives on education undertaken by the Indian Government.
She said that India's efforts were aimed at opening the windows of opportunity of education to all its citizens. To this end, she further stated that India has offered to partner with UNESCO towards collaborative knowledge sharing, which would assist all countries in their efforts towards achieving Agenda 2030 in a timely manner.
Irani also held a meeting with the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, to discuss the full range of India's cooperation with the organisation across UNESCO's programmes on education, science, culture, and communication and information.
As a founder member, India's is a voice that is heard with much respect at UNESCO.
Presently, India is on eight important UNESCO bodies which span the diverse fields of UNESCO's work.
The minister was received by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova alongside the Namibian Presidency of the General Conference and the Egyptian Chair of the Executive Board. Several Heads of State and Government are attending this Forum which will today see an intervention by President Francois Hollande of the host country, France
Irani also paid homage to the statute of Aurobindo located in the Japanese garden at the UNESCO headquarters. The statute is a gift from the Government of India to the organisation as its tribute to the House of Peace.
Her visit coincides with the ongoing 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference as well as the 70th anniversary celebrations of UNESCO.