The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) held a seminar on “India in a changing world” as it introduced its work to Indian stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi.
The DOC leadership team welcomed an audience drawn from the top echelons of India’s political, policymaking, think tank and expert communities. An overview of the history and mission of the organization was followed by two high-level panel sessions focusing on different aspects of India’s position as a key emerging global power.
“The DOC has had close ties to India ever since I founded it in 2002 alongside my dear friend the late Jagdish Kapur, an Indian entrepreneur and visionary,” said Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the DOC. “We have set ourselves a mission to contribute to peace and understanding between different civilizations and nations and cultures. We have brought the idea of dialogue of civilizations back into scholarly and contemporary international discourse. We cannot do this without India, which has a key role to play in the shaping of the new humane world order.”
The event was facilitated for the DOC by Suresh Keswani, Coordinator of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and former member of the upper house of India’s parliament. The DOC thanks him for his leadership and support. In his opening remarks, Mr Keswani highlighted the dynamics of economic developments in the Asia-Pacific region, reflected on the changing power relations between the countries and the challenges that affect the whole region. He also deliberated on India’s growing economic and political stature that makes it able to play a leading role in the international arena and to contribute to stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
“This is an excellent time for DOC to be looking to establish a presence in India,” Suresh Keswani said. “DOC has considerable expertise in a number of areas that are of vital importance to us in India, for example how to move towards a more sustainable world, with more equitable distribution of wealth and resources across all segments of the population. I hope to be able to support DOC’s continued efforts in India, by helping them to link up with and engage in meaningful and productive dialogue with key policy makers, leading NGOs and think tanks and other pre-eminent experts, as we look to tackle together some of the most critical issues facing the world today.”
The event continued with a dialogue session moderated by DOC CEO Jean-Christophe Bas on “30 years after the end of the Cold War: Global implications and prospective trends”, including keynote speeches by former Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Chancellor of Austria Dr Alfred Gusenbauer, a member of the DOC Supervisory Board.
Hamid Ansari shared his vision of how the reality of today’s world differs from what international scholars and pundits forecasted 30 years ago, and highlighted that mechanisms are needed for navigating through the vast ocean of multiplying challenges and uncertainties. He noted that empowering people to straighten their capacities has to be the main objective of development as well as its principal source.
There followed two panel discussions on “India in the region and the world: Leadership through dialogue” and “India and its neighbours: Prospects for economic cooperation and development”.
The second panel, moderated by TV presenter Reemaa Gautam, included a keynote speech by Junaid Ahmed, Director of the World Bank in India, dwelt on the remarkable progress that India has made over recent years towards reducing poverty and achieving better growth. In particular, he said, India’s growth experience has slowly but steadily accelerated over the last 50 years, and has become less erratic, and has been well diversified across sectors and states. Junaid Ahmed also drew on personal experience to reflect on the importance of practitioners in various cultural fields – be it music, film, literature, visual arts or others – in facilitating dialogue across cultures and boundaries on a day-to-day basis.
Former Indian Home Minister and Lok Sabha speaker Shivraj Patil also contributed to the panel, pointing to the risks that the China-Pakistan nexus, the most visible example of which is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, pose to India’s security and economic ambitions. He suggested that deeper regional economic integration will be key to ensuring that India and its neighbours continue to develop in a peaceful way, and withstand global trade tensions. This will require not only fostering stronger economic ties among regional allies and like-minded states, but also countries whose interests and visions of the future of the region differ from one another.
In his concluding remarks, in which he addressed the way ahead, Jean-Christophe Bas expressed deep appreciation for the quality and the depth of the exchanges, which were a perfect illustration of the way DOC works by bringing multiple perspectives to the table – from policymakers, academics, intergovernmental organisations, and influencers – to exchange ideas in a constructive spirit and serve as an incubator for innovative and shared world views. He stressed that DOC is not coming to India with an agenda, but rather is willing to learn and to build on India’s diversity of cultures, and to facilitate its participation in the global conversation on major issues that DOC is addressing.
Building on the success of this event, the DOC will create interaction and synergy between all of its activities, from research to policy programs, while engaging its Indian partners. The DOC also expects a strong Indian presence at this year’s Rhodes Forum, which takes place on 11-12 October 2019 on the Greek island of Rhodes. The Rhodes Forum is the DOC’s flagship public event, bringing together global leaders, policymakers, diplomats, experts and businesspeople to discuss crucial issues facing the world today.
This year’s Rhodes Forum, the 17th, has the title “Global (Dis)order: Towards Dialogue-Based Worldviews” and focuses on the search for new global narratives as the world marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Confirmed speakers already announced include best-selling author Bruno Maçães, former Europe Minister of Portugal; Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel; and former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer.
A video report of the event will be available on the DOC website in due course.
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