“People across the world seek inspiration from India’s vibrant culture, rich heritage and we should be proud of it.”
– Vijay Darda
Vijay Darda carries forward the legacy of his father Jawaharlal Darda (Babuji) in promoting Indian values and traditions through all his cultural endeavours. He established the Jawaharlal Darda Art Gallery in his memory, which was inaugurated at the hands of the then Union Minister Praful Patel, as a venture of the Jawaharlal Darda Kala Akademi.
Apart from showcasing the works of art maestros, the gallery also exhibits the paintings, sculptures and photographs of upcoming artists from across the country and globally. Darda also initiated The Raza Samman Award given annually to extraordinary painters, the artworks of whom are published in the ‘The Raza Samman’ edition.
Darda organised the Jawaharlal Darda Memorial Art Camp at a retreat in Tadoba National Park, located in Vidarbha region. As many as 20 internationally acclaimed artists including Sujata Bajaj, Deepak Shinde, Vijendra Sharma, Suhas Bahulkar and Kahini Arte Merchant participated in the camp, whose paintings were later showcased at the gallery in Nagpur.
Darda instituted the Sur Jyotsna National Music Awards in the memory of his wife Jyotsna Darda who founded Jawaharlal Darda Sangeet Kala Akademi in Nagpur. To date, it has honoured aspiring singers in Indian classical and popular music like Anwar Ali Khan, Arya Ambekar, Pooja Gaitonde, Reewa Rathod, Ankita Joshi, Ramakant Gaikwad and Shikhar Naad Qureshi.
Under Darda’s chairmanship, Lokmat’s experiential marketing division, Taplight organised the World Orange Festival showcasing the skill of Nagpur’s orange producers and boosting cultural tourism in the region. The festival witnessed participation from 500 artists and 650 performances from around the world, along with a 3-km long carnival parade with 18 floats.
Taplight also organises the annual Maharashtra’s Most Stylish Awards to recognise the distinctive style statement of personalities from diverse fields. The event has been graced by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, veteran singer Asha Bhosle, cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, industrialist Gautam Singhania and film stars like Deepika Padukone, Jackie Shroff, among others.
Darda launched Lokmat Sahitya Puraskar to honour Marathi authors and publishers who have produced exemplary works of literature. A Lifetime Achievement Award is conferred along with awards in 10 genres such as stories, novel, poetry, fine prose, non-fine prose, character autobiography, ideological literature, children’s literature, translation and science.
Darda envisioned the idea of promoting regional culture and heritage through coffee-table books like ‘Sabkuch Solapur’ and ‘Shatakatla Yavatmal’. He also published ‘Raktanjali’ which was released at the hands of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi on Kargil Vijay Diwas. It is a collection of inspiring poems written by Lt. Col. V. P. Singh.
Darda’s other initiatives under Lokmat include the annual Dhamal Dandiya, a dance competition organised across Maharashtra and Goa that provides a platform to aspiring performers, as well as special musical events featuring renowned Sufi and Qawwali singers organised during the annual celebration of Lokmat Samachar.
As a Parliamentarian, Darda has proactively raised questions in the Rajya Sabha about the stealing and smuggling of Jain idols, shortage of skilled manpower to protect monuments under Archaeological Survey of India, public access to illuminated monuments in Delhi and inclusion of the capital in UNESCO’s World Heritage City list.
Darda has been a true ambassador of Indian culture, tradition and heritage, which he proudly promotes during all his international tours and conferences.