- Mar 02 2016
Welcome Address by Sunjoy Joshi, ORF Chairman
Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs, Government of India Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India.
- His Excellency Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh.
- Her Excellency President Chandrika Bandarnaike Kumaratunga .
- His Excellency President Hamid Karzai.
- His Excellency President Sir James Mancham.
- Dr. S. Jaishanker, Foreign Secretary.
- Ministers, Ambassadors, Secretaries, and dignitaries from the armed forces.
- My colleagues from academia and civil society.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am extremely delighted to have the privilege and honour to welcome you all on behalf of the organizing team at the Ministry of External Affairs, our partner organizations and on behalf of my colleagues at ORF, to this inaugural Raisina Dialogue – India’s first global conclave on geo-economics and geopolitics.
On a personal note, I feel overwhelmed by the support and participation of so many of you in the audience and with the amazing stewardship of the Indian foreign minister, the foreign secretary along with their whole team, who have made this possible in so short a time. Madam as you are aware we started stitching this together a little over two months ago.
Thanks to you, Madam, we are not just inaugurating a conference but are crafting a new mode of how the Indian leadership, brings together thought leaders, experts, practitioners and people to successfully engage with the region and the world. The next three days will see debates and discussions, throw up ideas and pathways that will hopefully shape the progress of not just India and Asia but of all who are invested in and engaged with Asia…with India.
For some time now, as the Indian growth story gained momentum, the absence of a truly global platform located in India had been a bit galling. Indians, the inveterate travellers that we are, traversed the world and attended various iconic conclaves. AS India grew, the number of conclaves as well as the number of Indians attending also steadily increased. But that also spurred, in some of us, the need for bringing into these conversations a uniquely Indian dimension that could help locate these within an Indian paradigm and with an Asian ethos.
Then in 2014, with the coming of a new political leadership came an altered mood and new determination. This leadership was keen to engage with the world, more confident of what it wanted, one that felt enthused by both the opportunity and the possibilities that such engagement afforded.
At the core was a desire to ensure that we as a nation and as a people take the initiative and become contributors participating in and shaping global conversations…
….. paving new trajectories with others who shared a common vision of jointly responding to the needs of a dynamic world. One that requires more actors taking more responsibility.
In the run up to this conference, my colleagues and I have been often been quizzed about the rationale, the motivation and, the purpose of creating this platform. So let me try and respond.
Fifty years ago Marshall McLuhan, declared that – the medium was the message for the medium shaped and controlled “the scale and form of human association and action” The hosting of this conclave therefore is the message itself.
The very fact that Indian thinkers, the Indian political leadership, and the executive, have come together to create this platform is a compelling message by itself.
At one level it is the manifestation of a pro-active India committed to being the cradle of new conversations, new ideas, and new outcomes, each of which will shape politics, policy and global governance. It is also an invitation to the global community, civil society, academia and global thought leaders to engage with India on issues and challenges faced across different geographies. It is a realization that India’s future, its development, and its growth, will be influenced and catalysed by various actors, various nations, and various developments across the world.
It is the recognition that the Indian story, the Asian story and the global narrative in turn will be co-authored equally by those within as well as those outside the region, and this platform will be one of the modalities that will enable us to collectively settle the contours and define the boundaries of that common narrative.
The world has for some time been talking of the dawning of the Asian century. However, for us the Asian century does not connote an exclusive region. It rather epitomises the engagement of global actors with Asia and of Asia with the world. It symbolises Asia’s renewed partnership with Europe, it typifies Asian engagement with the US,….. and it takes forward Asia’s long standing relationship with Africa.
For the Asian century in effect is really about once again integrating Asia with itself, integrating Asia within itself, and integrating Asia with the world. Therefore the conference theme of this inaugural edition of the Dialogue “Connecting Asia” tries to capture the various facets of these ambitions….
Secondly, this platform is important because it comes at a time when past assumptions – the rules and norms, the givens that may have proved adequate for a different world in the last century – have shown themselves inadequate in serving people and communities, countries and regions, who may today have the largest stake in its future.
On the one side the 20th century impulses of globalization, free trade, easy liquidity, large manufacturing, may no longer be readily available to many who are now beginning to climb the ladder of political and economic relevance.
On the other hand, protectionism, restrictive borders and a return to predatory economics can and are undermining many of the institutions and the architecture that served us in the past. Coalitions of convenience must not and should not seek to write new rules around trade, the digital economy, intellectual property rights, sustainable development and a host of other areas that each of us engages with.
Then we are in an age where technology has become the new hyper-reality – technology promises opportunity, it has become the tool that liberates us from the constraints imposed by geography, Technology is creating a new world. It is creating new social order, helping with the birth of new communities, shaping new forms of communication and engagement and inventing novel forms of economic and political transactions. But it can also be used to restrict and perpetuate distortions of the past, creating divisions that can be far more lethal. A new world outside of the known, for which the rules are unable to keep pace with the quantum spin of the electron.
These are the reasons why the phrase about inhabiting an “uncommon world” seems to be gaining more and more traction today; for while known solutions lead us to known outcomes, new outcomes will constantly require new solutions.
So the quest for discovering these solutions, joining together to script these, must not only continue but must now include voices that have the greatest stake in the future. The participation of diverse voices from Africa and Asia, India, and the world, is the best way of ensuring that any new consensus on geo-economics and geo-politics that emerges in the days ahead responds to the needs and aspirations of all people.
For the pathways to peace, the road to prosperity, the idea of inclusive development, are all predicated on the wholesome participation of new voices, more of which are now emanating once again from the world’s oldest civilizations.
The Raisina Dialogue aspires to be one of the arenas, where the old and the new can work together, not always necessarily in agreement, but always in harmony, many times contesting, but contesting as partners and not as adversaries.
This dialogue aspires to be such an amphitheatre of ideas located in India but owned by the world.