Intro: India Ideas Conclave was the first-of-its-kind attempt to bring global leaders and visionaries from diverse fields to join hands to take forward the agenda of “Integral Human Development”.
The India Ideas Conclave held at Park Hyatt, Goa from 19 to 21st December 2014, was one event that delivered far more than it promised. First of all, it brought together under one roof an extremely high profile gamut of participants comprising of leading policy makers, spiritual gurus, academicians, bureaucrats, media barons, artists, social activists, philanthropists, and professionals from the field of Law, Finance and IT. It virtually had the movers and shakers not only from all walks of life and all corners of India but all parts of the globe, representing an impressive array of continents, cultures and concerns.
The brainchild of India Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank that undertakes analysis, advocacy and awareness of key national and international issues, the 3-day Conclave saw a range of eclectic and thought provoking issues discussed and deliberated upon threadbare, in order to arrive at ways and means of putting into practice the ‘pro-people’ agenda of Integral Human Development as espoused by Deendayal Upadhyay half a century ago, the contemporary relevance and reverberations of which run through the fabric of nations – big and small.
The Conclave was inaugurated by the world renowned spiritual guru from India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who welcomed the participants with warmth and grace, in the age-old Indian tradition of embracing and nurturing intellectuals and intellectual activity. While impressing upon India’s pristine culture of invoking, appreciating and internalizing new ideas from every quarter and in every form, leading to the creation of a knowledge economy and culture, which was the hallmark of India’s leadership in the comity of nations & civilizations until the unfortunate colonial rule, Sri Sri urged India to reclaim its lead role in areas of its core competence like spirituality and alternate forms of healing, among many others. Sri Sri concluded his speech by praying to the Divine to “inspire our combined intellect for the common good of humanity”, thereby setting the tone and tenor of the Conclave in tandem with its Central theme – INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT.
Representing the Host and the Chief Sponsor of the Event, the Government of Goa, Shri Manohar Parrikar, former Chief Minister of Goa and present Union Minister, narrated the events leading to the birth of the Conclave and his State’s (Goa) commitment to promote such activities, making Goa a ‘thinkers’ destination apart from being a popular tourist destination.
The Inaugural session was followed by a special plenary session bringing face-to-face two powerful women politicians of our times – Union Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitaraman from India and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from the US. The experience sharing of the two women was interesting and insightful. It brought to the fore the common challenges faced by them despite the stark difference in culture, political system and social milieu. The Indian audience was particularly inspired by Ms. Tulsi Gabbard’s frequent reference to the Bhagwat Gita and its teachings of Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga, as the guiding principles of her life and in shaping her as what she termed as a ‘Servant Leader’. While responding to one of the question, she stressed upon Sanathan Dharma’s inbuilt path to self-realization, as the ultimate answer to individual search.
The Special Plenary Session paved way for 6 more Plenary Sessions and 10 Parallel Sessions across a span of 2 days and 70 Speakers, each a living legend and an expert in their own right, covering topics ranging from Economics, Culture, Religion, Gender, Justice, Democracy, Energy, Educa-tion and Entrepreneurship. Mortal participants like me had a particularly tough time making the choice of attending one parallel session at the cost of the other because every idea put across by the resource persons was worth its weight in gold. Every line was thought-provoking. What were being put across were not some utopian, theoretical frameworks but commercially viable, mass replicable, applied solutions to pressing problems. The do-ability factor of the deliberations provided an added impetus and enabled the question and answer sessions to be extremely interactive, useful with real time impact.
The valedictory session titled ‘Development Mantra for India’; saw Governor of Goa, Smt. Mridula Sinha, and Union Minister for External Affairs, Ms. Sushma Swaraj and Swami Dayananad Saraswati share the dias.
Blessing the Conclave and applauding its efforts in bringing together like-minded intellectuals, sharing the Indian ethos of harmonious and inclusive living, Swami Dayanand Saraswati emphasized the importance of diversity and the need for respecting it, nurturing it and protecting it from aggressive, intolerant, totalitarian regimes and exclusive ideologies.
While expressing her joy in providing the fertile ground for sowing the seeds of an intellectual exercise of this magnitude, Governor Sinha wished the Conclave well and was confident that it will become an eagerly awaited annual feature of the global intelligentsia in the years to come.
Sushma Swaraj in her closing remark recited the shloka “Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha, Sarve santu niramaya. Sarve bhadrani pashchyantu, Maa kaschid dukhabhag bhavet”, and summed up the spirit of Integral Human Development, i.e., happiness and well-being of all.
All in all, this will be one intellectual event that will go down the annals of history as a pursuit that possessed the power of irrevocably changing the course and discourse of contemporary polity and economy to a pro-people, inclusive growth model, which is desirable, durable and very much do-able.
(Report by K. Aayushi, participant at the Conclave)