President Pranab Mukherjee has appointed Prof Lokesh Chandra, a contemporary scholar of Buddhism and the Indian arts, as the new President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for a period of three years with effect from October 27, an official press release said here today.
Prof Chandra, 87, is a former member of the Rajya Sabha and former chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research.
He has earlier served as Vice-President of the ICCR and is currently the Honorary Director of the International Academy of Indian Culture.
Prof Chandra, who is the 17th President of ICCR, succeeds former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Karan Singh, who demitted office on August 18.
He had served as a member of the Rajya Sabha twice from 1974-80 and 1980-86.
He was honoured by the Government with the Padma Bhushan in 2006 in recognition of his contribution to academic life and public discourse.
“Prof. Chandra’s major life-work is the study of cultural interflow between India and the countries of the world. Beginning with India’s linguistic sharing with the Indo- European languages of the West he has written on arts, histories and literatures of the Buryatia in Siberia, Mongolia, Central Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Cambodia and Indonesia. He believes in the shared plenitude of cultures of the world to enrich the secular and sublime dimensions of value-oriented life-patterns,” the release said.
He has to his credit over 596 works and text editions. Among them are Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary, Materials for a History of Tibetan Literature, Buddhist Iconography of Tibet, and his Dictionary of Buddhist Art in about 20 volumes.
Born in 1927 at Ambala, Haryana, he hails from an illustrious family of educationists. His father Prof. Raghu Vira was a scholar and thinker who made signal contributions to the understanding of Asian culture and to India’s linguistic development.
Prof. Chandra earned his M.A. in 1947 from the Punjab University at Lahore. In 1950, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy by the State University of Utrecht (Netherlands) in recognition of his contributions of critically editing the Gavamayana portion of the Vedic work Jaiminiya Brahmana with the help of newly discovered manuscripts.
According to the release, he knows several languages including Hindi, Sanskrit, Pali, Avesta, Old Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Indonesian, Greek, Latin, German, French, and Russian.
“His appointment is a valuable addition to the glorious lineage of Presidents of ICCR who have all been respected cultural ambassadors of India,” the release added.
Founded in 1950, the ICCR’s role is to promote India’s external cultural relations and foster and strengthen such ties and mutual understanding with other countries.
Among other things, it promotes cultural exchanges with other countries and people develops relations with national and international organizations in the field of culture.