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Home > News > Report

European unity and its lessons for South Asia

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | February 01, 2007 14:08 IST

If America's invasion of Iraq and its fallout has troubled you then an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome is a must visit if you happen to be in New Delhi.

The exhibition gently reminds the visitor that world community is increasingly coming together and will have to come closer and that there is no looking back on the idea of international cooperation.

The mutual interdependence of nations has increased like never before and issues like climatic change will make communties work together to save the world.

The exhibition organised with help of  the French Embassy, the European Commission, the India International Centre, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Centre de Sciences Humaines (New Delhi) and the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe is aesthetically designed by Aron Nicolet and prepared by columnist and scholar Claude Arpi of the French Pavilion in Auroville, Pondicherry.

The event will be followed by the round table on February 2 which will discuss the construction of Europe, its history, its unity in diversity and its relevance to a new international order.

The exhibition is about Jean Monnet, a French gentleman who was hailed as "statesman of the world" by US President John F Kennedy.

Monnet, known as "father of Europe" is hardly known in India. He was neither a diplomat, nor a politician nor a geo-political expert but still, he was the spirit behind the Treaties of Rome, signed 50 years back, which established the European Economic Community.

What Monnet dreamt and started is now well-shaped in form of EU with 27 member nations solidly backing his ideals. Fine diplomacy and size of the unified markets is driving the historic experiment with a positive spirit.

In 1950, when France and Germany were bitter rivals over their national interest in coal and steel, Monnet launched an unique idea and implemented it.

He "transformed the very object of dispute -- coal and steel production -- into the substance of co-operation". Monnet helped create the European Coal and Steel Community.

President Kennedy was so impressed that he told Monnet, "You are transforming Europe by the power of a constructive idea."

It's like a joint business union of India and Pakistan in sectors like cotton, textiles or basmati rice.

Monnet's philosophy was so successful, Arpi reminded us, that Europe has not seen a single war in the last 50 years.

Arpi, who lives in Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry and regularly writes on China and Tibet, explained his involvement, "Sri Aurobindo's ideal of human unity is quite relevant today. Aurobindo said humans should unite eventually. In the past there have been many attempts to bring unity like the Roman empire and Ashoka's empire but it failed. The European experiment is unique and successful."

The exhibition was inaugurated jointly by Pawan Verma of ICCR and Francisco da Camara Gomes, head of EU mission of India and Bernd Miitzelburg , German Ambassador to India.

Miitzelburg said, "Europe is a place of peace. While India needs to learn from EU, EU too needs to learn from India."

He said, "The way India is able to manage self-contradictions, difficulties and diversity is absolutely marvellous. India is a moral super-power! It has culture of tolerance and give and take."

The time has come again for the idea of human unity, the exhibition wants to emphasis.

It is applicable to South Asian countries also, particularly for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.  

Says an organiser of the event, "Who else understands the meaning of vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is one family) better than India?"