Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Mexico Searching for Indian Children Who Created Artworks at 1968 Olympics

Painting by Ira Sachdeva, who was 12 years old during 1966-68, from Malka Ganj, Roshanara Road, Delhi.

The Mexican embassy in New Delhi is looking for the children (now adults) who participated in the World Children’s Painting Festival, a cultural celebration that was organized in Mexico city as part of the Olympic Games in 1968. The festival, which carried the theme, “Un Mundo de Amistad” – A World of Friendship,” featured young participants from 80 countries, including eight children from India.

The children created paintings and murals representing their culture, which were later displayed at some famous spots in the city.

The Mexico government is now organizing a project called “A World of Friendship – 50 Years Later” to celebrate the golden jubilee of the cultural festival, in which the surviving pieces of the collection would be exhibited. The event featured 1,800 pieces of art back in October 1968.

The embassies of Mexico worldwide are now searching for the participants to acknowledge their contribution to the painting festival. It wants to present a copy of the framed painting with a certificate of commendation to the participants, the Mexican embassy in New Delhi said in a statement.

However, little is known about the Indian participants, besides their names and ages.

In an effort to find them, the embassy has released images of the original paintings and murals, along with a black and white photograph of Leela Sudakaran, one of the Indian artists who may have traveled to Mexico for the event. “If these drawings look familiar, you may be wanted by Mexico,” the embassy said.

“It is likely that the Indian children may have participated through the renowned Shankar’s International Children’s Art Competition,” the statement said, referring to the competition organized by famous cartoonist K Shankar Pillai.

Shankar used to select the best paintings and submit them to international competitions, the statement cited Yamuna Shankar, General Manager, Children’s Book Trust, as saying.

It is also believed that three Indian students may have traveled to Mexico along with the Indian sports contingent, to paint murals which were placed along the Avenue Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, the embassy added.

Only one child participant from India has been tracked so far. The embassy was able to track down Jitendra Navnitlal Parikh, who was at that time a 15-year-old student of Shree Sayaji High School in Baroda, with the help of an Ahmedabad-based journalist. Parikh had created a painting titled Market. He died in 1998 following a long illness.

The embassy’s efforts to track some of the other children have reached a dead end, since the leads provided by the school or the locality have not yielded any result, the  Indian Express reported.

The other Indian participants named by the embassy were Sujata Sharma (aged 14 at the time), New Delhi; Ira Sachdeva (12), New Delhi; Sanat Kundu (13); Vivek Kuchibhatla (9); Ela Ems (8) and Leela Sudakaran.

“We want to locate these children, who are now adults, and want to find out about their life’s story…and want them to join us in the celebrations,” Mexican ambassador Melba Pria was quoted as saying by the publication.