Modi, Hollande visit Chandigarh museum, art gallery

Chandigarh, Jan 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande on Sunday together visited the Government Museum and Art Gallery after the latter’s arrival here on a three-day official visit to India.

“The two leaders viewed the displays of archaeological findings from the foothills of the Himalayas which suggest human activity possibly dating back to 2.6 million years ago, making them among the oldest known remnants of human existence,” a statement issued by the external affairs ministry in New Delhi stated.

“This significant discovery is the result of seven years of extensive research and collaboration between the Prehistory Department of the National Museum of Natural History of France and the Society of Archaeological and Anthropological Research of Chandigarh undertaken under the auspices of an ‘Agreement of Collaboration between Society for Archaeological & Anthropological Research, India and French National Museum of Natural History’,” it added.

According to the statement, the archaeological discovery comprises about 1500 fossil finds, including 200 quartzite tools collected from several locations spread over 50 acres of area in Masol region near Chandigarh.

“The research work relating to this archaeological discovery is being published in the form of articles in the Palevol Review,” it stated.

Modi and Hollande congratulated the Indo-French team for their joint research work leading to this discovery and underlined “that this example of successful bilateral collaboration illustrated the long-standing cultural ties and enduring collaboration between India and France in rediscovering, preserving and promoting our shared cultural heritage”.

“They hoped that such discoveries would lend further momentum for more joint endeavours in the future,” the ministry statement said.

Located in the heart of city which was designed by French architect Le Corbusier, the museum and the gallery houses part of the collection of art objects, paintings, sculptures and decorative arts that were kept in the Central Museum, Lahore, the then capital of Punjab, prior to Partition in 1947.

On April 10, 1948, the collection was divided. While Pakistan retained 60 percent of the objects, the remaining 40 percent fell in the share of India. Received in the month of April,1949, this collection was first housed in Amritsar, then Shimla, Patiala and finally shifted to Chandigarh where the museum and gallery were inaugurated on May 6, 1968.

Earlier, Modi met Hollande at the Rock Garden here and the two leaders took a tour of the famous landmark created by Nek Chand.

The two leaders then visited the Capitol Complex here which houses the seats of governments of both Punjab and Haryana.

During his brief stay in Chandigarh on Saturday, Hollande, along with Modi, will also attend a CEOs’ Forum and the India-France Business Summit.

In the evening, the visiting dignitary will leave for New Delhi, where he will attend this year’s Republic Day parade on Tuesday as the chief guest.

On Monday, Hollande and Modi will hold a bilateral dialogue following which a number of agreements are scheduled to be signed.

The two leaders will inaugurate the Interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and lay the foundation-stone of the ISA headquarters near New Delhi.

On Tuesday Hollande will attend the Republic Day parade on Rajpath as chief guest, becoming the fifth serving French president to do so.

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