India has offered a lot to common heritage of mankind: Spanish Ambassador

New Delhi: Noting that India has offered a lot to the common heritage of mankind, Spanish Ambassador Jose Maria Ridao has said his country is keen to expand bilateral cultural ties, especially by organising shared activities here.

He noted that while Spain is a small country, it too has contributed to this common heritage and that both nations need to look to each other and discover their respective contributions.

“We are very interested in cultural activities because we feel that India has offered a lot to the common heritage of mankind and also we think that even though Spain is a small country, we have also contributed as much as we can to this common heritage.

“So it is not to present in a nationalistic way the Spanish culture in India, or to receive Indian culture in Spain, it is to look to each other and to discover what are our respective contributions to this common heritage of humankind,” Ridao told PTI in an interview here.

He also noted that there are many commonalities between the cultures of India and Spain.

The embassy in India, which regularly organises film festivals to honour Spanish cinema greats, is looking to expand its cultural activities by involving theatre and opera to the list.

“We are preparing many things, we are thinking about the possibility of doing something in theatre, also in opera. Apart from cinema and the normal things we have done before. But we would like to increase the number and the nature of activities,” Ridao said.

The embassy will organise an opera – “Don Giovanni” – inspired by “Don Juan” in Delhi in November, he added.

The Embassy of Spain recently collaborated with Penguin Random House to publish Spanish classics novels in India at affordable prices to facilitate better access to Spanish culture and literature.

“We discovered that for Indian students it is very difficult to find books in Spanish, so they have to import books and it is very expensive.

“So we tried to find a solution to this issue and Penguin Random House enthusiastically supported us in not only to promote a language but also to offer the Indian students a possibility of reading Spanish text in the original language at affordable prices,”Ridao said.

The literary outreach programme began with the publishing of 1,000 copies of the Spanish classic “Romancero Gitano” (Gypsy Ballads) by Federico Garcia Lorca.

In the coming months, more classics including “Don Juan” and Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” will be published in India.

The diplomat has about 20 works of fiction and non-fiction to his name and is “constantly reading” Indian writers to discover “great literature in India”.

“I have read a little of Indian authors here in India. I like non-fiction authors like Romila Thapar, Ramachandra Guha and Sunil Khilnani and in fiction, I like Geetanjali Shree a lot and Navtej Sarna, another great author. So I am constantly reading your authors because I discover great literature here in India,” the 61-year-old said.

Recently, the Spanish embassy and Penguin Random House India collaborated with 11 bookstores in four Indian cities and participated in the Spanish tradition consisting of exchanging a book for a rose, commemorating St. George’s Day in India.