Embassy of India
Inauguration of Lecture Series
‘From Mandvi to Muscat:
Indian Community and the Shared History of India and Oman’
National Museum of Oman
October 19, 2023
‘For Stories to be remembered, they need to be retold’
Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang
His Excellency Shri V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs of India,
His Excellency Jamal Al Mousavi, Secretary General of the National Museum of Oman,
His Excellency Sayyid Nooh Al Busaidi, Chairman of Oman Historical Association,
Professors Redha Bhacker and Ismail Al Zidjali,
Sheikh Anil Khimji and Distinguished members of the Indian Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you for the inauguration of this lecture series that focuses on the contributions of the Indian community and the evolution of India-Oman relations.
This is an initiative of the Embassy of India, and I wish to convey my gratitude to the National Museum of Oman and the Oman Historical Association for collaborating with us to bring alive the history of contacts between Indian and Omani people and by doing so bringing public focus back on this glorious chapter of relations between our two countries.
It is a matter of privilege for us that the exhibition is being inaugurated by our Minister of State for External Affairs Shri V Muraleedharan ji. His presence today makes this event even more special.
I also wish to place on record my sincere appreciation for His Excellency Jamal Al Mousavi, Secretary General, National Museum of Oman, who is himself a formidable historian and has played an important role in the documentation of Oman’s history as also the history of Indian community in Oman.
It is indeed symbolic that this lecture series is starting today at the premises of the National Museum of Oman in old Muscat, which was the original place of residence of most of the Indian merchant community or ‘Banyan’ families.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the nearly two years that I have now spent in this beautiful country, I have come in contact with many members of the Indian community who have shared with me the accounts and remarkable nuggets of the life stories off their ancestors who came and made Oman their home.
These are stories of remarkable individuals who moved to this beautiful country when there was nothing much more than just dates and sand here.
They worked with honesty, diligence, and compassion; making friends and raising families. They settled down and made this place their home.
By the dint of their hard work and the perspiration of their brow, they contributed to the development of Oman as a modern country.
The Indians, who lived here were always loyal subjects to the Omani rulers, and trusted friends to their Omani hosts.
They maintained their culture and their traditions inside their hearts and their homes, but also became an integral part of the Omani social fabric.
They maintained connections with the place of their birth India as their Janmbhoomi, and yet worked with all their resolve here in Oman their Karmbhoomi.
These stories of adventure, resilience and friendship need to be preserved for the next generations.
For stories to be remembered they need to be retold.
While this chapter of India Oman relations is well known, I felt there is a need to retell the stories, especially for the benefit of the younger generations in both our countries.
Earlier this year, the Embassy hosted a lecture by Professor Calvin Allen, who is one of the better-known authorities on the subject. It was during discussions with him, and with Shri Vimal Purecha, that the idea of this lecture series was born.
I am grateful to the encouragement of Vimal bhai as also the support of Professor Sandhya Rao Mehta from the Sultan Qaboos University in helping giving shape to this idea.
I am grateful also to the Indian merchant community in particular Sheikh Anil Khimji and Shri Kiran Asher for their enthusiastic support; not just of the heart but more importantly of the wallet so that we can organize and sustain this ambitious initiative.
I am confident that this lecture series - which will go on for the next 7-8 months and include perspectives of different academics and scholars from all over the world - will make an important contribution to do the retelling of the stories of the Indian community and their contributions to the development of India-Oman relations.
I am confident also that this effort will help preserve these stories, and bring them to the attention of the future generations all around the world.
I thank everyone present once again, and I wish the lecture series all success.