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Home > Business > Pravasi Bharatiya Divas


We need to celebrate India's diversity: Amartya Sen

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | January 09, 2003 18:07 IST

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was joined by dignitaries from around the world to warn India not to destroy its cultural diversity, but to celebrate it and make it a model for the rest of the world.

As the morning inauguration of the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas turned into full fledged talking shop, it was the turn of the politicians, successful entrepreneurs, business magnates from around the world, with their common ancestral background, to call for protecting the diversity of India.

"We need to celebrate the diversity" of the culture where "tradition, culture and civilization" are all open, said Amartya Sen in his speech.

"There is a tendency to see (Indian culture) as a static, isolated civilization than as a dynamic interactive culture which it has been,� Professor Sen added.

Sen said it was important that India continued to pursue the policy of interaction to obviate any occurence of violence which, according to him, took place due to lack of interaction.

Indians did not adopt a frog-in-the well-approach wherein the society was happy to confine itself to a limited surroundings, Sen said.

Indian success is ascribed to its interactive quality that led to the development of science and mathematics in the country.

Citing the example of the tremendous success achieved in the information technology sector by India, Sen said it was indicative of the interactive openness.

Sen said the pravasis should celebrate their "Indianness" not as a group of Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or Jains but on a common platform.

Ujjal Dosanjh, former Prime Minister of British Columbia, Canada, said he was still "that young child who left India, with its dust still sticking in my nose and beauty in my minds."

He said the success of people like him was a celebration of the diversity of the culture of the host country as well as that of India. He called on present day Indian leadership to leave an imprint of India's diversity, international relations and its culture on the global arena. He hoped India would regain its glory in the international arena, and return to the days of Jawharlal Nehru, when the nation was an importance voice before the international community.

Sir Ernest Moutoussamy, Member of the Parliament from Guadeloupe, a French territory, said it was a struggle of a century that gave the Indian indentured labourers in his country the right as equal citizens.

Speaking in French, Moutoussamy said the meeting was a celebration of India's diversity and he hoped to have a great celebration in 2004 to mark 150 years of the arrival of the first batch of labourers in Guadeloupe, a Caribbean island.

Professor Lord Bhikhu Parikh, of London School of Economics, and former vice chancellor of Baroda University, said, "India is not a narrow band of cultural nationalism." He asserted that India is "nothing if it is not vishwa bharati." He said, cultural universalism is part of our entity. "India will be untrue to its history if it is not an open society," Lord Parikh said. 

Shridath Ramphal, former Commonwealth Secretary General, said the diaspora look upon India as an ideal. And "if India retracts from its lofty ideals so will the diaspora," he warned. India has set up an example in cultural diversity and its values like tolerance and caring are admired, Ramphal said.



Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

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