Mexico is looking for these seven Indians

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In 1968, Mexico played host to the first Olympic Games held in a Spanish-speaking country. As part of the cultural activities during Olympics, it had organised ‘World Children’s Painting Festival’ in which seven children from India participated. They were – Sujata Sharma (aged 14 at the time), Ira Sachdeva (12), Sanat Kundu (13), Vivek Kuchibhatla (9); Ela Ems (8), Leela Sudakaran (who is likely to have travelled to Mexico to paint murals), and Jitendra Navnitlal Parikh (15).

Now 50 years later, the Embassy of Mexico in India has launched a hunt to find these participants. As per the embassy, the search has been launched “to acknowledge the contribution of those children to the painting festival.”

While the Embassy did locate Parikh (who is no more alive), it has no information about the rest of these participants barring their name and age. It is likely that they may have participated through the renowned Shankar’s International Children’s Art Competition. According to Yamuna Shankar, General Manager, Children’s Book Trust (CBT), “K. Shankar Pillai, founder of CBT, used to select the best paintings and submit them to international competitions. It is also believed that three Indian students may have travelled to Mexico along with the Indian sports contingent, to paint murals which were placed along the Avenue Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, converting the long iconic boulevard into an immense art gallery.”

The Embassy would present a copy of the framed painting along with a certificate of commendation to the participants to mark the 50th anniversary of the cultural initiative, ‘A World of Friendship’. Under this initiative, an exhibition is going to held in the Mexico City in which the surviving paintings from the original collection of 1,800 artworks would be displayed. Not just Indian students, the embassies of Mexico are searching for other participants (now adults) throughout the world.

Held in October 1968, the painting festival was organised with the theme, Un Mundo de Amistad (A World of Friendship). Children from 80 countries had contributed drawings and murals which were displayed in the city’s most iconic spots.

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