The Rig Veda says, “Ā no bhadrāḥkratavoyantuviśvataḥ” (Let good thoughts come from everywhere, from all the world. It was in this spirit, that India Foundation organised the 2nd India Ideas Conclave in Goa on the theme of Learnings from Civilisations. The 3-day event saw participation from more than 350 eminent intellectuals, academics and scholars. More than 65 speakers from around the world addressed the gathering on socio-economic, cultural and political themes that dominate the public discourse in India today. This was the second edition of the conclave and built upon the ideas deliberated in the first edition which was on the theme of integral human development.
Prime Minister of Bhutan His Excellency LyonchhenTsheringTobgay was the Chief Guest during the inaugural session. In his address, he compared the contributions of various ancient civilisations and came to the conclusion that Indic civilization was the greatest of them all because various religions and faiths harmoniously co-existed in the country. Eminent spiritual leader and Founder of Isha Foundation, Coimbatore His Holiness SadguruJaggiVasudev was the Keynote speaker. He described India as a civilization of God-seekers and spoke on the role of spirituality in helping individuals navigate the problems of society. The inaugural session was chaired by Union Railway Minister and Director, India Foundation Shri Suresh Prabhu and graced by Union Defence Minister Shri ManoharParrikkar, Minister of State for Finance Shri Jayant Sinha and Chief Minister of Goa Shri LakshmikantParsekar.
The India Foundation, together with Swarajya Trust and Indic Academy also instituted the prestigious Swarajya Awards from this year. There were four awards named after four eminent leaders:
1. SreeNarayana Guru Award For Social Work- Robin Hood Army
2. Dr.Shaya Prasad Mukharjee Award For Political Activity- Shri Sajjad Lone
3. Dr. B.R. Shenoy Award For Economics- Shri ArvindPanagariya
4. UstadBismillah Khan Award For Cultural Activism- Shri Joe D’Cruz
The deliberations where structured in four formats: Special Keynotes, Special Plenaries, Plenary Sessions and Parallel Sessions. The Special Keynotes were delivered by luminaries like (Late) Shri Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Shri DattatreyaHosabale (Joint General Secretary, RSS) who spoke on Kashmiriyat, Jamhuriyat and Insaniyat and RSS and Its Cultural Agenda respectively. This was one of the last public speeches by (Late) Shri Sayeed who reiterated his commitment to the welfare of Kashmiri people based on the guiding principles established by Former Prime Minister Shri AtalBihari Vajpayee and continued by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi. Shri Hosabaledescribed RSS as a cultural institution and highlighted the importance of culture as a basic element that makes/enables people to form a nation.
The Special Plenary session on New Politics saw a lively discussion between Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan (Loksatta Party), Shri Baijant ‘Jay’ Panda and Shri Jayant Sinha who was chairing the session.Dr. Narayan and Shri Panda had vastly different prescriptions for fixing the political system in the country. While the former wanted more devolution in favour of state and local governments and a heightened focus on education, Shri Panda believed that the traditional politics of subsidies and hand-outs needed to be reworked to cater to the rise of a massive aspirational class in India.
The plenary and parallel sessions focussed on both economic and cultural issues and saw a wide range of themes being covered as follows: World Without Poverty, Digitisation and Future of India, In Search of Lakshmi- Towards Indic Economics, Rise of Radicalism- Future of Civilisations, Cultures in Conflict- The Road Ahead, Pen Warriors- Literary Battles for Civilisational Ideas, Semitic Ideas- Orthodoxy, Modernity and Reform, Lifestyle Issues as Identity Issues and Mother Earth, Mother Nature- the Eastern Wisdom.
Several national and international thought leaders participated in these sessions. These included: Mr.AlojzPeterle, MEP, former PM, Slovenia; Dr. Walter Andersen, JHU, USA; Amb. Muhammad Zamir, Bangladesh; Mr. Victor Vekselberg, Skolkovo Foundation;Mr. Carlos Magarinos, former DG, UNIDO; Dr. Daniel Pipes, USA; Shri SadanandDhume, AEI, USA; Shri SubhashKashyap, Delhi; Amb. NyamdavaaOidov, Mongolia; Shri LobsangSangay, Sikyong, Central Tibetan Admn, Dharmashala; Dr.David Frawley, USA; Mr. Patrick French, Historian, UK; Ms.Tavleen Singh; Ms.MadhuKishwar; Ms. Jaya Jaitley; Mr.Tufail Ahmed, MEMRI, USA; Mr.Tareq Fatah, Canada; Shri MilindKamble, Pune; Prof.PralayKanungo; Shri SwapanDasgupta and Shri M.J. Akbar.
On economic themes, the speakers focussed on the best practises India could learn from other countries in the world and our ancient past to reduce the poverty in the country. Several examples were cited by panellists from Arthashastra (on limited government and the need to promote a welfare state) and from developing countries post 2nd world wa (focus on education and physical infrastructure). The session on digitisation was chaired by Shri Sharad Sharma (Co-founder, iSPIRIT) and saw the panellists discuss how digital technology could be used to enhance the effectiveness of flagship government programs. The session on gender equality was chaired by Smt. LalithaKumaramangalam (Chairperson, National Commission for Women) who flagged off gender budgeting and gender sensitization as key tools to bridge the gap between men and women in society.
The other set of sessions were on cultural and civilizational conflicts. Dr.LobsangSangay spoke about the strong connection between Buddhism and nature and Dr. David Frawley underscored the importance of Ayurveda and Yoga in modern life. The session on Pen Warriors saw a spirited discussion between panellists on the crucial role of writers in the never-ending battlefield of ideas. Shri Amish Tripathi pointed out that stories had the power to create lasting change. Ms.Tavleen Singh defined a civilised country as one which had an abundance of libraries and bookshops. In the session on Semitic Ideas- Orthodoxy, Modernity and Reform, the panellists explored the question whether monotheistic religions could evolve to accommodate the plurality of views present in most modern societies today.
The valedictory session was chaired by HE Smt. Mridula Sinha, Governor, Goa and the valedictory address was delivered by Smt. NirmalaSitharaman who emphasized the importance of fora like IIC that provided unique perspectives to the audience on national issues and allowed a healthy debate and discussion between intellectuals from all over the world.
To download the photos of India Ideas Conclave 2015, please go to: