"Friends of India" Club

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Friends of India Club is a public organization founded 15 years ago by 105 representatives of the Bulgarian public – intellectuals with interest in the country like the late Acad. Petar Dinekov and Acad. Vera Mutafchieva, who is still the chairperson of the club, eminent artists, writers, scholars, Bulgarian specialists who had been to India under the program for cultural and scientific exchange, Bulgarian ambassadors and diplomats who had worked in India. Members of the club are Bulgarian Indologists, journalists, students and university students. In 2004 the Indology department at Sofia University held a large scientific conference on the occasion of its 20th anniversary with the participation of more than fifty Bulgarian scholars from all fields of knowledge and foreign guests, which was dedicated to the jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and India. For nearly seven years now Friends of India Club has been publishing an annual journal “Svetilnik”, which presents the club life, recounts about the Bulgarian-Indian contacts through the centuries, the values of the Indian cultural heritage and the achievements of modern scientific thought in India.


In 2006 – the tenth year of „Svetilnik” - we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of our Club. That is why I hope you will allow me to connect today’s presentation of our magazine with the beginning, without which we wouldn’t have had today’s issue. Friends of India Club was instituted on February 5th 1991 in the hall of the Union of  Translators in Bulgaria. Initiators were the years-long contributors to the Bulgarian-Indian co-operation Vladimir Ganev, Evgenia Kamova and Margarita Georcheva. Among the 105 founders of the Club were the names of scholars, writers, journalists, diplomats, artists, translators, Indologists, politicians and public workers. The symbolic inauguration was performed by  Academician Peter Dinekov, poet Naiden Vulchev and the Charge d’affaires of the Indian Embassy Mr. Sahni, lighting a big brass light-holder with a peacock on top. Let us remember some more names and events from 1991 – the first year of our organized activities. Writer Vera Moutafchieva was elected President of the Club and Lyubomir Popov, the first Bulgarian Ambassador in Independent India, at the time of Jawaharlal Nehru – as First Vice President. The first Club evenings were devoted to literary works on India, written by Yordan Popov, Yassen Antov, Alexander Shourbanov.  The first lectures gave Ass.Prof. Plamen Gradinarov, Prof. Vesselin Traikov and other scholars.   Among the important events in the Club’s life in the first years was the meeting of Club members with the Indian Parliamentary delegation in 1993; the meeting with the President of the Republic of India Shankar Dayal Sharma with club members and Indologists; the celebration of  the 50th anniversary of Independent India, on the occasion of which Friends of India Club organized the first big scholarly conference on India in Bulgaria, called “India in Bulgarian Science” with participation of scholars from all fields of knowledge; and of course the publication of the first issue of  „Svetilnik” in 1997.

The foundations were layed by an Editorial board, including Vesselin Traikov , Vlaidimir Ganev, Evgenia Kamova and artist Yulii Minchev. The Editorial Council was composed of eminent Bulgarian scholars of the rank of   Prof. Alexander Fol. With enthusiasm and devotion these people shared their little free time for the cause of further evolving this periodic annual of the friendship between our two peoples.

In the 2000th year, when Friends of India Club entered its 10th anniversary, „Svetilnik” whose No 1 was a modest black and white bulletin, became a book with new theoretic and graphic vision, great part of the conception for which we are trying to keep up to now. The traditional rubrics were introduced from the very beginning: Lectoria; Chronicle of Club’s Life; „In the World of Books on India”. The first lectures of  scholars  in the Club’s Lectoria: „The Phenomenon India – A Historic Perspective” by Boryana Kamova; „The Cult of Knowledge in Traditional Indian Culture – Bhagavadgita” by Yordanka Boyanova; “ODISSI – A Classical Dance Style of India” by Rajashree Behera and „Hinduism – the Eternal Truth” by Ambassador Nilima Mitra attracted new followers to the Club’s cause. In close relationship with the Leading board of the Club, the magazine „Svetilnik” not only reflected, but also played the role of stimulator of Club’s life.