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"Commemorative Soirée: Relevance of Václav Havel Today"

Date: 18 December 2021

A commemorative event was held at the Embassy of the Czech Republic New Delhi, on 18 December 2021 to honor the great Czech personality Mr. Václav Havel on his 10th death anniversary, the Czech and Slovak Embassies in New Delhi organized jointly a commemorative soirée titled "Relevance of Václav Havel Today".

Heads of both diplomatic missions, Mr. Roman Masarik and Mrs. Valeria Zolcerova, had an introductory speech. They briefed an audience who was Vaclav Havel and how he influenced not only his own country Czechoslovakia but the whole world.

Václav Havel was born on  5 October 1936, he was a Czech statesman, playwright, and former dissident, who served as the last president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. He was the first democratically elected president of either country after the fall of communism. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs. His political philosophy was one of anti-consumerism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, civil activism, and direct democracy. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award. The 2012–2013 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour. He was died on the morning of 18 December 2011, at age 75, at his country home in Hrádeček.

Famous Indian sociologist and an active member of the Program Council of the Czech NGO Forum 2000 Professor Surendra Munshi presented then his reflections of Vaclav Havel and his legacy. He recalled that Havel was inspired by ideas and thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, including the policy of tolerance and non-violence.

The talk was followed by some personal memories about Vaclav Havel presented by the acting head of the Czech Embassy Mr. Roman Masarik.

In the subsequent discussion, several visitors shared their views about Vaclav Havel and his importance.

The soirée was visited also by few people who met Vaclav Havel personally. Among them for example former Ambassador of India to the Czech Republic His Excellency Dinkar Srivastava, Indian Bohemiologist Dr. Sharda Yadav or Latvian Deputy Ambassador  Marks Deiton.

Concluding the formal part of the event, Mr. Roman Masarik and Mrs. Valeria Zolcerova thanked Professor Munshi for coming to Delhi from Kolkata to deliver his talk, and especially for his long-term efforts to promote Vaclav Havel and his legacy in India. At the same time, Mr. Masarik handed over to Professor Munshi the portrait of Vaclav Havel, newly oil on canvas painted by famous Indian artist Ms. Sonika Agarwal who was also present at the function. The donation of this painting is a clear evidence, how deep we appreciate what Prof. Munshi is doing to promote the awareness about Vaclav Havel among Indian people.

On behalf of the Slovak Embassy in New Delhi, the Acting Ambassador Mrs. Valeria Zolcerova presented then a memento to her Czech counterpart containing a photograph of Vaclav Havel. Mr. Roman Masarik thanked her for a nice gift and promised that he will find a proper place at the Czech Embassy to display it.

The official part of the soirée was over; however, the subsequent dinner brought many further discussions about Vaclav Havel.

The hall was full, and a lot of distinguished persons were among the visitors of the event, including former Secretary of the MInistry of External Affairs Ambassador Shri Amarendra Khatua or former Indian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Her Excellency Ms. Narinder Chauhan.

The event was also visited by a delegation of the Standing Committee of Tibetan Parliament in Exile who delivered a letter from its Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel. They expressed their appreciation to the Czech Republic and its human rights policy, and thanked for showing His Holiness The Dalai Lama as a good friend of Vaclav Havel.

It was the last public event of the Czech and Slovak Embassies this year. Many people attending the function expressed their sympathy that despite a partition of Czechoslovakia the Czechs and the Slovaks are such a good friends that they are able to organize events together.


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