Exclusive: Ismaili Mail Interview
On a recent trip to India Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Hon. Jason Kenney visited Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi. The following is a short online interview of the Minister conducted by Ismaili Mail:
Ismaili Mail: Honourable Minister Jason Kenney, at the outset Ismaili Mail would like to thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions about your visit to Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, India earlier this month.
Minister Kenney: My pleasure
Ismaili Mail: What made you decide to visit this remarkable monument to the Mughal presence in India?
Minister Kenney: When this trip was being planned I asked Alykhan Velshi, my communications director, to see if we could fit in a visit to a place that would highlight some of the work the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has done and continues to do. Humayun’s Tomb is one perfect example of AKDN’s efforts to revive interest in Islamic architecture and heritage and to plan its programs so that a maximum number of people around a particular project can benefit from it.
Ismaili Mail: What were your impressions of Humayun’s Tomb?
Minister Kenney: Firstly, it is a remarkably beautiful structure typifying the Mughal period in the history of India. It also predated the Taj Mahal by about a century and served as a prototype structure around which the Taj Mahal was conceived. Secondly, I was also fascinated by the ‘Chahar Baag‘ garden reconstruction which, I am told, was done by AKDN according to the original plans and documents from the archives and reflects a Persian style and ethos. ‘Chahar Baag’ is one large garden divided into four gardens by water channels at right angles to each other, which symbolises the four rivers of Paradise. I actually think that the symbolism represented by the garden’s symmetry reminds me of the wonderful speech made by His Highness The Aga Khan a few weeks ago at the opening of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa in which he spoke poetically about the symbolism of the rock crystal part of the roof of that stunning building. There is still some reconstruction work that needs to be done on Humayun’s Tomb — parts of the outer structure are damaged by acid rain — so I look forward to visiting it again when further reconstruction work has been completed.
Ismaili Mail: I should mention that this ‘Chahar Baag’ garden concept also graces the rooftop garden of the Ismaili Center in South Kensington, London, UK, the courtyard garden of the Centro Ismaili in Lisbon, Portugal, the inner courtyard garden of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Canada and will be a fixture at the Ismaili Center and Aga Khan Museum to be constructed in Toronto, Canada.
Minister Kenney: That is fascinating; I must make a point of visiting these centers when I visit the United Kingdom, Europe and Toronto in the future.
Ismaili Mail: Thank you once again, Honourable Minister Kenney, for taking the time from your busy schedule to speak with Ismail Mail.
Minister Kenney: Thank you.