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Chennai has been included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for its musical contribution.

UNESCO, the UN cultural organisation, has included Chennai in its list of Creative Cities for its contribution to music.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the development.

"Congratulations to the people of Chennai on the city's inclusion in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for its rich musical tradition. Chennai's contribution to our rich culture is precious. This is a proud moment for India," Modi tweeted on Wednesday.

In an official statement, UN Scientific and Cultural Organisations Director General Irina Bokova said: "These new designations showcase an enhanced diversity in city profiles and geographical balance, with 19 cities from countries not previously represented in the Network. 

"The cooperation framework proposed to foster candidate cities from the Africa region -- a Unesco Global Priority -- has been a true success with nine African cities now joining the Network.”

Chennai is the Carnatic music capital of the country and the recognition comes at a time when the city is getting ready for the annual Margazhi season. 

The Margazhi season will span the whole of December and will see singers and musicians flocking to Chennai to participate in various music festivals all across the city. 

Reacting to the news, Kamal Haasan said in a tweet, “The recognition and praise from Unesco for music fans of Chennai is long overdue. We prefer praise from others. Our honourable PM recognising it affirms our hope that south will not diminish in spite of its detractors. Thank you India.“

Varanasi and Jaipur are the other cities to have received the UNESCO creative city tag. 

The Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004. It highlights its members' creativity within seven fields: Crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music. 

The UCCN now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries. Alba city in Italy tops the list.

"While differing geographically, demographically or economically, all Creative Cities commit to develop and exchange innovative best practices to promote creative industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies," a statement on Unesco's website said.

(With IANS inputs)