Speech by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj at the inauguration...
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Sometimes I wonder if it’s a good idea to be a writer these days. Today, what ignites spirit and enthusiasm is technology. The greatest achievements of our race are now what we innovate, our most influential feats lie in AI, nanotechnology, robotics, aeronautics and we rarely tell our children to be artists. Today, poetic writing is often dismissed as ‘flowery’, yet it used to be the way of the great poets. Language has become more accessible and facile. We do not seek esoteric words and subtle poetry the way we used to.

This is not to serve as a testament to how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ this is, but rather, emphasise a reality. And while I cannot help but marvel at our technology today, a part of me is saddened by how our art gingerly fades. My childhood joys used to be tucked into bed, eyes glued to a book, my understanding of sadness and beauty of the world came after many hours at many art museums, my appreciation for elegance deepened the day I watched the dancers dance ballet. I owe a great deal to the artists I have met along the way.

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highness,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is with great delight that I speak at Mountain Echoes here at IndiaHouse. It is even more special that this marks 10 years of this exceptional celebration. One which seeks to balance the beauty of art with the brilliance of technology.

In today’s world, we must ask ourselves: why are the arts important? With theoretical physics striving to answer our most intricate questions of the cosmos, with engineering propelling us into new realms of creation, with software blurring the lines between technology and reality, where do the arts fit in? Is there even a need for the young student to know of the ancient legends and cryptic paintings?

This is a question seemingly asked by many and one I shall address in my own talk at Mountain Echoes, but I believe there is a fallacy when we divide the acceleration of technological progress and artistic progress. It is often perceived that engineering is a strict process, where there is no room for art. I would argue the opposite: every machine is different. Everything engineered possesses an encrypted finesse and grace; the way each component aligns and functions in fluid unison with others. There can be a lot learnt from the way a simple gear rotates.

It is only when we are able to see such beauty in the world that we, whether we are engineers or just common people, will reach greater depths. 

Thus, as we move forward in this 21st century, it is important to live in the knowing that a small part of us will remain in a vacuum, incomplete without the arts.

It is due to the creation and conception of art that we, as human beings, have been able to accelerate progress, initiate powerful change and delve into dark waters. It is our ability to derive knowledge from what we construct that makes human endeavour so beautifully idiosyncratic.

Through art, we have unknowingly programmed our minds to detect grace and finesse in reality, and that has made all the difference. That is why the sunsets take our breath away, that is why the rain upon grass calms our souls, that is why we cry when we are overwhelmed by beauty, that is why we are human.

When I first heard of Mountain Echoes, I was thrilled to be a part of it. A festival to commemorate the writers, scholars, photographers, poets, environmentalists and so many more. This celebration indeed is very close to my heart.

It is my honour to pay tribute to Her Majesty, Ashi Dorji Wango Wangchuck. It is only with Her Majesty’s vision and guidance that a celebration of such unique grace and excellence could’ve been created.

And of course, I must thank the organisers, those who have worked tirelessly for this beautiful festival. Meeta Kapur, Namita Gokhale and Promod Kumar particularly, your efforts will only serve to shine through. 

And lastly, it is with great delight that I acknowledge Ambassador Pavan Verma - one of the moving spirits behind Mountain Echoes, it is our honour to have you here with us.

On that note, I believe that is my cue to stop talking and wish all of you a spectacular journey in the next couple of days. A journey where for just a couple of days, you are no longer your obligations, your fears, your bank account, your occupation, where you detach from your everyday life. This is a journey for the essence: for the soul of the human being at the center of your existence. A journey for the mind and heart, devoid of the weight of reality. This, this marvelous festival of the arts, is a journey for you.

Thank you
Tashi Delek!

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