Conference is ideally timed, an occasion to renew our centuries old association: PM
The richness of Persian heritage is an integral part of the fabric of the Indian society: PM
As two ancient civilizations, we are known for our ability to be inclusive and welcoming to foreign cultures: PM

Excellency Hadid Adel, the Head of Farhingstan

Dr Janati, the Minister of Cultural Affairs of Iran,

Distinguished scholars,

Ladies and gentlemen

The wise words of Dr. Adel and Dr. Janati before me have set the tone for this Conference. Your conference is most ideally timed. It is an occasion to recall and renew our centuries old association. It is also a perfect response to the those who preach radical thoughts in our societies. It also fulfils a responsibility to familiarize our younger generations with the beauty and riches of our cultural heritage. No one is more qualified to shoulder this task than this gathering of learned men and scholars. I must particularly congratulate Dr. Adel, who has been ahead of the curve in realizing this need. His ongoing project to bring out Encyclopaedia on the Indian sub-continent in Persian would be of great service to researchers and scholars. It is indeed an honour and privilege to be amidst such a galaxy of scholars and thinkers of Iran. 


In the world of today, political pundits talk of strategic convergence. But, India and Iran are two civilizations that celebrate the meeting of our great cultures. The rare Persian manuscript Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, released just now, captures the close historical links between India and Iran. It is remarkable how the simple stories of the Indian classics of Jataka and Panchatantra became the Persian Kalileh-wa-Dimneh. It is a classic example of exchange and travel of cultural ideas between two societies. ­A beautiful demonstration of how our two cultures and countries think alike. A true depiction of the wisdom of our ancient civilizations. For those with the sweet tooth it is शक्कर from India. I cannot help but recall the lines from Hafez, though slightly reversed for the occasion:

शक्कर-शिकन शवंद हमे बुलबुलाने-अजम

ज़े ईन क़दे-हिन्दी कि बे-तेहरान मी रसद्

(Meaning: All the nightingales of Iran get this fresh sweet arriving in Tehran from India)


Centuries of free exchange of ideas and traditions, poets and craftsmen, art and architecture, culture and commerce have enriched both our civilizations. Our heritage has also been a source of strength and economic growth for our nations. The richness of Persian heritage is an integral part of the fabric of the Indian society. A part of Iranian culture lives in Indian hearts. And, a slice of Indian heritage is woven into the Iranian society. Our ancient heroes and epics bear striking parallels. The dargahs of Azmer Sharif and Hazrat Nizamuddin in India are equally revered in Iran. Mahabharata and Shahnama, Bhima and Rustam, Arjuna and Arsh exhibit similarity in our world views and values. Crafts like Zardozi, Guldozi and Chanderi may be a part of the Iranian society. They are equally common in India too. In the richness of Iranian culture, who can forget the poetry and beauty of its vehicle—the Persian language. In India, we regard it as one of our own. The great medieval poets of India have called the Persian and Sanskrit the two sisters. India's religious epic Ramayana which has seen over a dozen translations in Persian is known to have about 250 words of Persian. It served as a court language in medieval India. But, its popularity is also because it is written on the hearts of the Indians. It is taught in around 40 universities in India. All India Radio has been running the Persian language service for last 75 years. India has a proud collection of almost 5 million manuscripts of Persian in public and private collections. There are more than 20 million documents in Persian in National and State Archives. Many of these have common heritage as they were written by Iranian calligraphers and painted by Indian artists. In Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad, such a combination can be found in many manuscripts. A major effort to digitize all manuscripts, including Persian is currently underway in India. Every year, the President of India has conferred awards on the Persian Scholars. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As two ancient civilizations, we are known for our ability to be inclusive and welcoming to foreign cultures. Our contacts have not just refined our own cultures. They have also contributed to the growth of moderate and tolerant societies globally. Sufism a rich product of our ancient links, carried its message of true love, tolerance and acceptance to the entire mankind. The spirit of Sufism is also reflected in the Indian concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the World as one family.


India and Iran have always been partners and friends. Our historical ties may have seen their share of ups and downs. But, throughout our partnership has remained a source of boundless strength for both of us. Time has come for us to regain the past glory of traditional ties and links. Time has come for us to march together. In this endeavour, you, the eminent scholars have a defining role to play.

It is indeed my great pleasure to inaugurate the Conference "India and Iran, Two Great Civilizations: Retrospect and Prospects."

In extending my best wishes for the success of your conference, I would also keenly look to receive the ideas that emerge out of your discussions. I am happy to see that ICCR and Farhangistan have worked closely to organize this Conference. Your deliberations indeed provide a body of strength to our literary, academic and people to people ties.

Let me thank you all once again for inviting me.

I wish all you and the conference only the very best.

Shukran, Thank you. 

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Your Excellency Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,

Your Excellency Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Honourable Ministers

Ladies and Gentlemen

A famous poet of Persia, Hafez once said:

रोज़े- हिज्रो-शबे-फ़ुर्क़ते-यार आख़र शुद

ज़दम इन फ़ालो-गुज़श्त अख़्तरो कार आख़र शुद्

[Meaning: Days of separation are over; night of wait is coming to an end; Our friendship will stay forever.]

Today, we are all witnessing creation of history. Not just for the people of our three countries, but for the entire region. To build bonds of connectivity is the most basic of human urges. Today, we seek to fulfil it. We are grateful to Excellency Rouhani for hosting this unique event. Thank you President Ashraf Ghani, for your presence. It truly holds a special significance. It is a privilege to be here. Excellency Rouhani, President Ghani and I have just held detailed discussions on a range of issues. The agenda for economic engagement is a clear priority for us. We stand together in unity of our purpose. To carve out new routes of peace, and prosperity is our common goal. We want to link with the world. But, better connectivity among ourselves is also our priority. It is indeed a new dawn for the region.


Iran, Afghanistan and India are deeply aware of the richness and reality of our ancient links. Through centuries, art and culture, ideas and knowledge, language and traditions have formed a common bond between us. Even through turmoil of history, our societies never lost touch with each other. Today, we meet to write new chapters in our engagement.

Excellencies, The Agreement on the establishment of a Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor signed just a while ago can alter the course of history of this region. It is a new foundation of convergence between our three nations. The corridor would spur unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region. Inflow of capital and technology could lead to new industrial infrastructure in Chahbahar. This would include gas based fertilizer plants, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and IT. The key arteries of the corridor would pass through the Chahbahar port of Iran. It's very location, on the mouth of Gulf of Oman, is of great strategic significance. Afghanistan will get an assured, effective, and a more friendly route to trade with the rest of the world. The arc of economic benefit from this agreement would extend beyond our three nations. Its reach could extend to the depths of the Central Asian countries. When linked with the International North South Transport Corridor, it would touch South Asia at one end and Europe at another. And, studies show that as compared to the traditional sea routes, it could bring down the cost and time of the cargo trade to Europe by about 50%. Over time, we could even look to connect it with the strong sea and land based routes that India has developed with the Indian Ocean Region and South East Asia.


The world of 21st century offers unique opportunities.But, it also poses its own set of challenges.Today, the nature of global engagement requires an attitude more suitable to this century, not the mindset of the century gone by. Today, the watch-words of international tiesare trust not suspicion; cooperation not dominance; inclusivity not exclusion. This is also the guiding philosophy and driving spirit of the Chahbahar Agreement. This will be a corridor of peace and prosperity for our peoples. Motives of economic growth, and empowerment would drive it. It will build our security without making others vulnerable. It would break barriers among our nations and encourage new benchmarks of people-to-people contacts. And, help us to eventually build what we all desire and deserve - a friendly and healthy neighbourhood.


The world around us is changing in fundamental ways. And, the lack of comprehensive connectivity is not the only challenge that limits our national growth. Political turmoil and undercurrents of economic stress continue to spread in West Asia. In the Indo-Pacific,rise a mix of political competition and economic opportunities is putting pressure on the existing Asian order. Global economy is yet to fully come out of uncertainty and weakness. Our present growth and future prosperity is under threat from the spread of radical ideas and physical terror. Amidst this landscape, our three countries are blessed with the most potent resource—our youth. Our three nations are estimated to have more than 60 percent of their population under 30 years of age. They are an asset in our national and regional development. We want them to walk the road to knowledge and skills; industry and enterprise. And, not fall victim to the path of guns and violence. I am confident that economic fruits of the Chahbahar Agreement will expand trade, attract investment, build infrastructure, develop industry and create jobs for our youth. The Agreement will strengthen our ability to stand in mutual support against those whose only motto is to maim and kill the innocents. Its success will be a positive vote for peace and stability in the region.

Excellencies, It is my strong belief that trade and transit routes should only be a starting point of our journey to greater connectivity. In my vision, the full spectrum of connectivity agenda between Iran, Afghanistan and India should span: • from culture to commerce;

• from traditions to technology;

• from Investments to IT;

• from services to strategy; and

• from people to politics.

In a way, it is a pledge to:

• Realize the imperative of better connectivity;

• Establish peace and create stability;

• Build economic prosperity and engineer new trade ties;

• Curb radicalism and remove shadows of terror; and

• Break barriers and spread sweetness of familiarity among our people.

History will look back at this effort with nothing but approval and admiration.

I compliment Excellencies Rouhani and Ghani for their leadership in guiding this effort.

Thank you all. Thank you very much.