DUBAI: As you exit the Indian pavilion at the Dubai Expo, on the ground floor there is a large hall which has replicas of the Ram Temple being built in Ayodhya, the BAPS Hindu temple coming up in Abu Dhabi and images of the ghats of Varanasi covering one of the walls with the ‘Statue of Unity’ opposite it.
While the Abu Dhabi temple, which marks fulfilment of the aspirations of thousands of devotees of the Swaminarayan sect, attracted a lot of attention locally when the pavilion opened on Friday, the adjacent replica of the Ram Temple stood out for the message it sends out.
It is perhaps the first instance of the Ram Temple, whose construction started last year after a vexatious legal battle and a huge socio-political upheaval, being projected as part of Indian heritage overseas.
The decision to showcase it in Dubai indicates that the government is not coy about putting Ram Mandir on a pedestal as part of India’s cultural heritage which is sought to be linked with the strategies for the future, with a key thrust being on the policies announced by the Modi government.
The three-storied pavilion spread over 1 lakh sqft starts with yoga and environment in the front with replicas of Taj Mahal , Rani Ki Vav , the Sun Temple of Konark and Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Varanasi on the first floor, before visitors move on to what is being displayed by some of the Indian companies and the government—both the Centre and states.
“The idea was to put the cultural aspects on the front part of the building and business on the other side.We opted to have the Ram Temple on the ground floor as visitors would leave the pavilion with that in their mind, since a large part may not be there for business,” said Dikshu C Kukreja, managing director at CP Kukreja Architects, which conceived the Dubai Expo Pavilion and is involved with the master planning of Ayodhya as well as East Delhi Hub, India’s tallest building.
While the pavilion was constructed by state-run NBCC, industry chamber FICCI had been tasked with deciding what to show.The government provided key inputs with the decision to showcase Indian culture as a key element.
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said even Prime Minister Narendra Modi too gave his inputs.Over the next six months, the display will keep changing every few weeks, the minister explained.
“We have designed it like a jewel box, with the jewels inside,” said Kukreja, adding that the façade displays multiple images of India in the evening.
So, why does India have so much emphasis on culture while the US has a replica of SpaceX and DP World, the UAE logistics giant, displaying hyperloop and other new technologies?
“Technology is temporal, while culture never gets antiquated,” said Kukreja, explaining the rationale.
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