New Delhi: India has had a widespread tradition of ‘vaad-vivaad’ and ‘samvaad’. Today, we need to reconnect with that heritage, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind. He was speaking on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of India International Centre (IIC) in New Delhi today (April 18, 2022). The President said that India’s ancient philosophy, called ‘darshan’, is often acknowledged to be far more subtle and robust than the best of philosophical works produced elsewhere. He noted that the people, especially the youth, are keen to learn more – not only in terms of facts but also in terms of tools of critical thinking necessary to arrive at truth.
The President said that when the idea of the IIC was conceived in 1958 as an international platform for exchange of views, the world was coping with issues concerning a fair and stable international order and legacy-burdens of two world wars. The process of de-colonisation was underway in Asia and Africa, with new aspirations influencing the emerging international order. As the contemporary world is going through a phase of transition, forums like the IIC become all the more relevant.
The President said that the founding of this institution was done by women and men with a vision of India’s future and its role in a world of international cooperation. The IIC stands for a vision of India as a vibrant democracy where it is possible to initiate dialogue in an atmosphere of amity and understanding, with national and international participation. The founders of this institution had the foresight to see what could unfold in the years to come, and how the IIC could be a part of developments in a new nation and also contribute to debates globally. Such debates have kept pace with time. Since its beginning in the early 1960s, programmes at the Centre have reflected global and national concerns and continue to create awareness and influence public opinion on relevant issues. Through its close contacts with prominent academic and cultural institutions within and outside India, and through its networking with diplomatic missions in the capital, the IIC draws scholars, thinkers and professionals from India and abroad.
Noting that during its Diamond Jubilee year, IIC has chosen to especially focus on programmes related to women and gender, the President said that as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our independence with ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, let us also highlight the significant achievements of women and the several legal and social initiatives that seek to bring about change. He said that there are several examples of Indian women who, before and after independence, have shattered many glass ceilings. Let us not forget the fearless women scientists of the Mars Orbiter Mission. Women were among the leading Corona Warriors who demonstrated extraordinary resilience and provided healing touch to save fellow citizens, often risking their own lives.
The President said that women’s participation in the unorganised sector of our economy is very high. The formal economy needs to do much more to empower women-workforce. Women should be encouraged to participate more in what is known as ‘STEMM’, that is, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management. National and global economies stand to benefit from their talent and their creative ways of responding to challenges.
The President said that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. We need to eliminate structures of violence and exclusion that block women’s progress and to open all avenues for them so that they realise their potential in diverse fields.
The President said that in the Diamond Jubilee year of the IIC, he wished there were hundreds of IICs across India, in several states and small towns, setting high standards of debate and discussion. Just as the IIC has not remained an ivory tower, the new centres too would be engaged in the task of making the world a better place through the use of reason.