Visit of President of ICCR to Cambodia from 27-30 August 2022

Embassy of India

Phnom  Penh

Press Release

Visit of H.E. Dr. Vinay P. Sahasrabuddhe, President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations(ICCR) to Cambodia from 27-30 August, 2022

  As part of celebrations to commemorate 70th Anniversary of Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between India and Cambodia in 2022 and to confer Distinguished Alumni Award to H.E. Ms. Eat Sophea, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC), Kingdom of Cambodia, H.E. Dr. Vinay P. Sahasrabuddhe, President, ICCR, visited Cambodia from 27 to 30 August, 2022, the first ever visit to Cambodia.

  1. Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is an autonomous organization under Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, that promotes culture and soft diplomacy through cultural exchange programmes with partner countries.
  1. On his first leg of journey to Cambodia, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, arrived in Siem Reap on 27 August, 2022. In his first meeting, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe along with Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India to Cambodia, met H.E. Mr. Chum Sopheakmakara, Acting Director General, APSARA National Authority. The discussions were held on issues related to  upgrading of Mekong Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum (MGCATTM).  After  the meeting, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, paid a visit to MGCTT Museum with H.E. Mr. KIM Sothin, Dy. Director General, APSARA, to inspect the galleries and displayed objects. On the same day, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe visited the world renowned Angkor Wat temple (restored by India from 1986-1993).
  1. On 28 August, 2022, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, inaugurated a Photo Exhibition “ Dhyanalaya” of completed conservation and restoration work of Hall of Dancers, Ta Prohm Temple (carried out by Archaeological Survey of India team from 2007-2022) along with H.E. Mr. KIM Sothin, DDG, APSARA and Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India to Cambodia. The inauguration was followed by interactions with scholars from the fields of Archaeology, Conservation, tourism from APSARA National Authority and other international team, working in Angkor Park area. Thereafter, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe visited Ta Prohm temple (India completed 2 phases of restoration and the third phase, which started in 2016, is expected to complete in 2026) to review the restoration and preservation work , being undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  1. On 29 August, 2022, as part of his second and final leg of tour to Cambodia, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, paid a courtesy call on H. E. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Kingdom of Cambodia, along with Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India to Cambodia. The discussions were held on bilateral cooperation in the fields of Fine arts, Culture and Education. Dr. Sahasrabuddhe touched upon some projects viz. engaging Buddhist scholars of both countries, teaching of Hindi in Cambodian Universities and Khmer language in Indian Universities, interaction of young political leaders of both countries, which may be undertaken both countries jointly. Dr. Sahasrabuddhe stated that these projects would further strengthen, the cultural relations between India and Cambodia. H.E. Sackona on behalf of the Government of Cambodia, expressed deep gratitude to the Indian Government for the assistance provided to Cambodia in various sectors especially conservation and development work in temple restoration of Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Preah Vihear temple and requested for India’s continued support for the restoration and conservation work of Preah Vihear temple, being undertaken by India at present.
  1. This was followed by a seminar held on “ Knowledge India Dialogue “ at National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relation (NIDIR), MOFAIC, Kingdom of Cambodia. Dr. Sahastrabuddhe inaugurated the programe that was followed by  welcome remarks by H.E. Tean Samnang, President, NIDIR. Samdech Dr. Khy Sovanratana, Acting Rector, Preah Sihanoukville Raja Buddhist University,  opened the Knowledge India dialogue. Scholars from different university, faculty and students of NIDIR participated in the seminar. The discussions were held on various topics like India’s Act East policy , India – Cambodia cultural links etc. Dr. Saharabuddhe,shared his views on importance of Yoga, Ayurveda, Cultural Coherence and Buddhist connects, reviving Buddhist circuit, Tourist activities from Srilanka to Lumbini , connecting other important Buddhist sites, to be concluded at Bodh Gaya. 
  1. In the evening on same day, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, at a glittering function held at Hotel Raffles, conferred “Distinguished Alumni Award 2021” on H. E. Ms. Eat Sophea, Secretary of State, MOFAIC, Kingdom of Cambodia. ICCR has instituted an “ICCR distinguished alumni award” in 2015 to recognize ICCR alumni, who have made significant achievements in his/her field and/ or have made outstanding contribution to the promotion of understanding, goodwill and friendship between India and their country. The ceremony was attended by H.E. Sry Thamrong, Minister delegate attached to Prime Minister, H. E. Ms. Chan Sorey, Secretary of State, Ministry of Women’s Affairs and nearly 100 ICCR and ITEC alumni. The award ceremony commenced with opening remarks by H.E. Dr. Sao Chivoan, Secretary of State, Ministry of Rural Development and President of Cambodia- India Alumni Association (CIAA), chief guest, who shared his views on works done by the association and  requested toincrease the ICCR Scholarship Slots for Cambodian students. H. E. Sao Chiovan expressed his gratitude to ICCR for supporting Cambodian students, thereby making their life better. Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, recalled the age old civilizational and cultural links between the two countries and the role of ICCR in promoting cultural links between India and other countries. In his speech, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, agreed to increasing ICCR scholarships slots for Cambodian Students and stated that in near future, ICCR will start best organization award for the Organizers of Association also. H. E. Ms. Eat Sophea recalled her first visit made to India under the ICCR scholarship scheme and other visits made to India from time to time and expressed her deep gratitude to ICCR in selecting her for the award. Ambassador of India thanked all  distinguished guests for attending the function. The award ceremony was followed by a reception and with a classical dance by Mr. Kapil Sharma, Dance teacher in the Embassy.
  1. On 30 August, 2022, Dr. Sahastrabuddhe, paid a visit to Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) and met Dr. Heng Sophady, Rector, RUFA, with senior faculty. The discussions were held  on issues related to cultural connection and focused on ways to  make this stronger besides increasing number of scholarship and programs for students in the field of Architecture and Archaeology.
  1. This was followed by meeting at Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) with H.E. Mr. Sok Touch, President, RAC. Discussions were held on mutual cultural and academic cooperation. Representatives from many Universities viz. SBU, RUFA, RUPP and Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC), participated in the meeting. Dr. Sahasrabuddhe announced that books would be presented to the RAC library on the occasion of Diwali besides working on Annual Orientation Course on Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s views on Buddhist Philosophy and Teachings. The modalities on working out a MoU between RAC and prominent universities of India were also discussed. This was followed by a visit to residence of Dr. Pheng, Chancellor of PUC, wherein discussions were held on academic cooperation. Dr. Sahasrabuddhe discussed about primary school education system and about Indian famous comic books on Mahabharata, Ramayana and Buddha, that can be introduced in Cambodian schools by translating into Khmer language.
  1. The visit by Dr. Vinay P. Sahasrabuddhe, President , ICCR to Cambodia, would lead to more productive cooperation in education and cultural diplomacy.
  1. Such high level visits to commemorate the special events are expected to enhance exchanges between the two countries and give further impetus to the bilateral relations.