India-Roma ties stand on solid foundation!

India Roma

New Delhi, February 13, 2016: Roma community and its ties with India will no longer be a subject of speculations.

The Indian government has taken affirmative actions in this direction, which will certainly help both the Indians and also the Romas to finally understand the relationship that they share with each other!

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj herself acknowledged the ties between Indians and Roma people when she was speaking at the International ROMA Conference and Cultural Festival which fell on February 12, 2016. The President of the World Roma Organization – Jovan Dmjanovik also participated in the programme.

In her speech she expressed her happiness and quickly moved on to say what the Roma delegates and the Indians present were wishing to hear:

You are the children of India who migrated and lived in challenging circumstances in foreign lands for centuries. Yet you maintained your Indian identity. A strong 20 million population of your community, spread over 30 countries encompassing West Asia, Europe, America and Australia speaks of your unique ability of adapting to foreign cultures. You are an example of peaceful co-existence in challenging foreign conditions and are indeed the first flag bearers of the Indian culture overseas. We, in India, are proud of you. Your Baro Than India once again welcomes you with an open heart.”

Sushma Swaraj also underlined that the Roma community structures are based on traditional Indian value system and that many Roma scholars and historians, engaged in conducting research on their origins, are believed to have their roots in India.

She further highlighted that Romas are considered to be descendants of nomadic groups in India, who traditionally are believed to have been ironsmiths with the migration of the groups happening towards the west in the 5th century.

Some scholars claim that the first wave of migration took place when Alexander made blacksmiths from India part of his entourage. They were iron smelters and experts in making war weapons.

The Romas are spread in Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, where they are 12% of the population.

Other European countries with a large number of Roma populations are Russia, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Spain and France. Their population is about 2.75 million in Turkey. Though the majority is based in Europe, Roma community is present in almost all the continents, including around 1 million in the US and approximately 800,000 Roma people living in Brazil.

The minister also highlighted the contribution of the Roma community stating that India is proud of their achievements.

Romas were entrusted with training the Princes in countries like Poland and Latvia in warfare techniques.

The Minister named famous Roma personalities, who made their mark on the world, and include painters like “Pablo Picasso and Antonio Solario, the famous comedian Sir Charlie Chaplin, the Spanish flamenco dancer and painter Micaela Ameya Flores Romanian tennis player Ilie Năstase, and Hungarian violinist Janos Bihari. The list of eminent Romas also includes Greek songwriter Kotsula Glekeria, the artist Yule Brynner, singer-performer Elvis Presley, twice Oscar-winner Sir Michael Cain, and Bob Hoskins.”

Her parting words showed India’s commitment towards Roma people and that the country will seek their partnership in its growth when she said that “My Roma brothers and sisters, India today is progressing and developing at a rapid pace. We would like to assure our continuous and unstinted support to our Roma brothers and sisters. We also welcome you all to contribute to mother India’s development and be active partners in this noble and exciting venture.”

It is an excellent move by the Indian side and now the country should gear up to embrace more long-lost communities who claim to have their roots in India. Could the persecuted Yazidis be the next? Time will tell.

Pic Credit: Twitter