Why is there a need for platforms where earnest thinkers can come and truly explore the toughest questions challenging our times; a platform where earnestness and thoughtfulness will trump fear of offence; and a platform to bring together the brightest minds from around the world on a Hindu platform to explore how we can make this world a little better.
Sustainable Governance in a Rapidly Changing World
Ram Madhav, Steve Tsang. Andy Bayley hosts.
What are the stories we tell ourselves about the things that really matter to all Life? How will we govern the ‘commons’ as we continue to build a more integrated post-industrialised world? How will we shape a new global “Rule Book”, given the rise of China and India, and an emerging Asia? The West is an ageing hegemon who can no longer drive the world order by itself, but what is the alternative? How will nation-states govern its people and institutions which will be increasingly cross border orientated? The panel explored the toughest challenges facing governance in the next 50 years.
Donald Trump is a polarising global figure. He is out to create a new world order by his own accord. A world order where America comes first and looks after its own interests above all others. He has systematically weakened international institutions, and encouraged nationalism all over the world. This fireside conversation with Suhag Shukla was an earnest exploration of Trumpism - motives and objectives.
Postmodern thought underpins much of our public life. It has permeated across academia, architecture, art and literature. Postmodern ideas undermine truth claims, and as such liberate the human being from the shackles of societal norms and custom. While at the same time uprooting the individual from the bonds which gave security, a degree of certainty and belonging.
This fireside conversation with Kushal Mehra explored what is postmodern thought? Why is it so powerful and all-pervading? Is it time to re-think the cultural narrative that has shaped much of our popular culture?
Institutionalising Religion: Can it be Sustainable?
Acharya Vidyabhaskar, Eimear Burke, Peter Groves. Anil Asthana hosts.
Are religions truly peaceful or are they by nature designed to ‘other’ the outsider causing conflict in all spheres – from the personal, to the social, and political? Do scientific discoveries about the universe nullify the need for religious belief, or can science itself become dogma of a different kind? What are the possibilities of humanity transplanting itself beyond institutionalised religions to a new form of enlightened spirituality? How long can religions monopolise humankind's pursuit for meaning and truth? A global panel of expert witnesses critically examined the institutionalisation of religious thought.
The world is an angry place according to Eric Lonergan. This anger is legitimate and long overdue. The disparities between what economists and elites think, and the models they create, in relation to the experience of flesh and blood human beings are widening to a point of political upheaval. This fireside conversation explored the remedy of angrynomics with the co-author of the book.
What is better for human flourishing - a BIG state, one that takes a paternal role towards its citizens and proactively intervenes and shapes and guides the life of individuals? Or is a small state better, one that provides the basics - defence, security, and infrastructure, but refrains from involvement in the life of the individual? Will the Chinese model of governance model become the most dominant, or the Scandanavian interventionist model, or the American model of maximising individual liberty? This fireside conversation explored the future of the Nation-State.
Human beings strive to lead an ethical life. Principles which underpin our experience of the world, ourselves in it, and shape the decisions we make. The world, to a large extent can be said to represent the combined ethics of humanity. What can we do to live a more sustainable life? What does it mean to live sustainably? This fireside conversation explored the moral maze of sustainable ethics.
Drishti was born in a Muslim household in the United Kingdom. Today she is a Hindu, and the President of the National Hindu Students’ Forum - the largest Hindu student organisation outside of India. This fireside conversation explored her journey. How liberated and empowered are women in modern Islam? What do madrassas teach young girls about themselves and their place in society? How difficult is it for young people to leave Islam, and what can ex-Muslims do to find their rightful place in society?
Eric Lonergan, Harsh Gupta, Jamie Whyte. Sachin Nandha hosts.
This fireside explored the most prevailing and long-lasting stories about the economy. Stories about fiscal policy, seizing investment opportunities, the emerging idea to democratise and regulate conglomerates, that free markets are a panacea, and how technology will create level playing fields. Is personal profit still the best motive to drive human behaviour and produce wealth for the whole society? We put each prevailing narrative on the dock and cross-examined it in the light of sustainability.
The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense
Professor Gad Saad discussed his upcoming (at the time book on how bad ideas, which are infectious, are harming our ability to use common sense. In a very candid exploration he drew on his experiences at Western universities which are often hotbeds for “no platforming”, “political correctness”, and a general drift away from reason. He offered a solution to help us bring reason and common sense back to the centre ground, and how to defeat the pandemic of bad ideas percolating in our lives.
Shashi Tharoor explored what he thinks are the biggest challenges facing humanity over the next thirty years. How will technology alter democracy? Is liberty under threat? Will nationalism outgrow internationalism? How will the Indian story play out in the light of a dominant China, and a nationalist America? Is Europe in a permanent decline? And what will the international order in 2050 look like? This fireside explored the toughest challenges facing humanity.
Postmodern ideas have systematically destabilised the values which held communities together. These values were built on identity, historical progress, nationality, epistemic certainty. Postmodernism seems to have done away with all of these things - liberating the human being at one end, while simultaneously creating disorder in the inner and outer lives of people and communities. We put narratives surrounding postmodernism on the dock and cross-examined them in the light of sustainability.
Can Rights be Sustainable Without a set of Duties?
Anirudha Rajput, Lou Marinoff, Matthew McManus. Manoj Ladwa hosts.
Can human rights be inalienable, or must they be coupled with a set of duties and responsibilities? What is the relationship between an education about one’s rights and the development of a social character that builds fraternity amongst the citizenry? Ought inalienable rights only stop at humanity, or ought they transcend to other life on this planet?
Having brought together so many experts from around the world, what major themes and ideas emerged from the panel discussions and fireside conversations? What has the conference told us about the direction of the world, and how we might overcome the challenges that we face? Above all, what are the Sustainable Narratives that will serve us best into an uncertain future?