In April 2017, a Diplomatic Night was hosted by the India Empire Magazine at a popular central Delhi hotel. It was attended among others by the international diplomatic community from 25 nations. On that relatively cool evening, Sborecek, a Czech choir, gave us a brilliant musical rendition dedicated to a conversation between Tomáš Masaryk and Rabindranath Tagore, both idealists who’d dreamt of seeing their respective nations free from colonial rule. The Indian Nobel Laureate’s first visit to erstwhile Czechoslovakia had been one hundred years ago, in 1921. Mr Masaryk at the time was the Founder and first President of an independent Czechoslovakia. India was yet to be free. In a scenic, tree-lined park in Prague—the capital city of what today is the Czech Republic—in an area called Thakurova is a bronze bust of Tagore on a high pedestal. Thakurova, of course, has become symbolic of the love and respect that the Czech nation has for Tagore.
The choir from Czechia—officially approved as the short name for Czech Republic in 2016—had performed at the behest of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in New Delhi. More specifically it was the idea of H.E. Mr Milan Hovorka, Ambassador of Czech Republic, with whom we have a cover interview. To say the least the musical renditions, including that of Saare Jahan Se Achcha, were easily one of the high points of that evening.
India’s links with the Czech Republic date back centuries when appealing Indian spices coursed their way to this Central European nation through land and sea. Not only that, a large number of Sanskrit scholars studied at the Charles University, the oldest and the largest of its kind in the country. Increased bilateral trade and greater personal connections over centuries resulted in the establishment of the first Czech consulate in Bombay in 1920, followed by another one a few years later in Calcutta.