Atom Mkhitaryan: “11 Armenian churches in India have a watchman but no visitors”

Atom Mkhitaryan, Head of the Pan-Armenian Programs Department of the RA Ministry of Diaspora participated in the international seminar “Social Education for Global Democracy”, organized by the UN in the capital of India, Delhi. In an interview to the correspondent of “Hayern Aysor” Mr. Mkhitaryan spoke about the condition of the Armenian Diaspora in India.

– Did you visit the Embassy of Armenia in India? Speak about your impressions 

– Taking advantage of my stay in Delhi, I visited our Embassy there, the 3-storey building, which was constructed and gifted to the Republic of Armenia by the local Armenian Community. The first two storeys are for administrative use, while the third one is a guesthouse for delegations from Armenia. Let me also note that unlike the Armenian Embassy, embassies of other countries are located in various rented rooms all through Delhi. The Armenian Embassy in India has three employees, one of whom works part-time. Besides the ambassador, consul and administrative assistant, there is also an Indian working there, whose duty is to manage the PR of the Embassy. 

– Does the fact that the Embassy was built by the Armenian Community indicate that the community is firm, strong and powerful? 

– The Armenian Community of India is very small, consisting of only 150 people and about 100 Armenian women who married Indian men. By the way, those mixed marriages were mostly formed in Armenia. Armenian women met their future Indian husbands, while the latters were studying in different universities of Armenia and joined them to India. Naturally, these families live in various cities and villages of India. But the official Armenian community of India is concentrated in Calcutta and has a theological academy financed by the Armenian Apostolic Church, where Armenians from all over the world are welcome to get education. Now there are Armenians from India, Iran, Iraq and other countries studying there. It is not an extra trouble for the community, since the former community left a rich heritage, which can be managed only within the borders of India. In passing, the rugby team of the theological academy of Calcutta has been a champion of India and gained a good reputation there, which had a good impact on the recognition of Armenians in that country. 

– The rich Armenian community of India had a rich spiritual life, too. How many Armenian churches are there in India today and in what condition are they? 

– The total number of Armenian churches in India is eleven, seven of which have been repaired by the funds of the community but have no visitors, since the number of Armenians living in India is rather small. Let me also note that all the Armenian churches in India have a watchman and are quite protected. 

– What can you say about the cooperation between the Armenian Community of India and the RA Ministry of Diaspora? 

– During my visit I gave the Embassy the literature published by the Ministry, since the Embassy and the Community are closely interconnected. Not few are the jointly organized events, and in the near future, on September 21, the Day of Independence of Armenia will be celebrated, with participation of a number of Armenian ambassadors to other countries. As for the cooperation between the community and the ministry, I must say it will grow even deeper thanks to the ministry website, which provides an opportunity to directly get informed and maintain relations. Using this chance, we’ll be able to inform the Diaspora about the current programs and involve our compatriots in them. Besides, we have also discussed the issue of making the Armenian community of India an assembly place for the Armenian Diaspora living in other countries of the world, taking into account the community funds.

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