IIC and the Idea of India

Op-Ed

IIC and the Idea of India: Managing diversity and difference

Chatterjee, Ashoke

‘India’ and ‘international’: terms redolent with implications of tradition, modernity, identity, change, promise and challenge. The generation that participated in achieving Freedom, including the  founders of the India International Centre, were confident that India had a message about the meaning of a democratic, syncretic society as well as what resurgent India could represent to the world outside. The Centre was intended as a space within which dialogue could enhance an understanding of diversity and tolerance, help develop capacities for managing difference, and assist measurements of progress relevant to a just society. Through the years, IIC has served this mission admirably. Yet recent events remind us that as a nation, managing difference and diversity is perhaps a greater challenge today than it was in 1947. IIC often appears as island of sanity surrounded by troubled waters, and a new generation cannot take for granted the concepts that brought the Centre into existence. They have come of age during years that have challenged the qualities and assumptions on which free India was founded. Additionally, they must deal with major new challenges: the degradation of our environment, the rise of terror, the impatience of communities left for too long at the margins of society, the impact of transforming technologies, the rush to convert citizens into consumers, and a pace of change that is entirely new to experience. The young are thus being challenged to re-discover their heritage, and to re-state the postulates on which India can move into its future. While unpara...
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