The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No conflict in Joshi peace meet

New Delhi, July 2: Human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, along with the Unesco, is hosting an international conference to promote peace and tolerance. But the conference, Joshi insists, will not talk on any issue of conflict, whether in India or outside.

The list of Indian scholars who have been invited to attend the conference is dotted with names of academics and political leaders close to the Sangh parivar and Joshi. On the list are L.M. Singhvi, BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha, G.C. Pande, chairperson of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla — a Joshi appointee, Kapil Kapoor, the HRD ministry’s nominee for the vice-chancellorship of Jawaharlal Nehru University, P. Parameshwaran, RSS ideologue in Kerala, T.. Chaturvedi, former BJP MP and now the Karnataka Governor, Swami Jitatmananda and Swamini Vimalananda.

Others on the list include D.P. Chattopadhyaya of the Indian Council for Philosophical Research, Sushila Bhan, former employee of the Indian Council for Social and Scientific Research, scientist C..R. Rao and dancer Padma Subramaniam.

“There is nobody on that list barring D.P. Chattopadhyaya who commands any kind of academic credibility,” said a former professor of philosophy of Jawaharlal Nehru University. “People like Kapil Kapoor and G.C. Pande are well-known for their RSS links,” the professor said.

The two-day conference — “Dialogue among Civilisations” — will begin next Wednesday. “The conference will not discuss the negative aspects of a civilisation. It will only dwell on its positive aspects,” Joshi told at a news conference today.

The minister insisted that it would be a discussion without pinpointing the sensitive areas of conflict. “It will be a discussion to create a world without conflict. And this will be done without talking about situations of conflict. Problems peculiar to a country will not be discussed.”

So far, 50 countries have accepted the ministry’s invitation. Among them are Bangladesh, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Africa, Uganda, Afghanisthan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Pakistan was invited, but it has not accepted the invitation, Joshi informed.

Since he took charge of the HRD ministry, Joshi has said he will project both within and outside India its ancient civilisation and heritage. “India is the only country with a tradition for dialogue,” he said.

A note circulated by the HRD ministry says: “The New Delhi conference will emphasise the importance of a global dialogue and the impact it can have in promoting tolerance and respect for pluralism.”

It is, however, not clear how this “impact” will translate into reality.

The conference will focus on three themes — education, science, technology, social sciences, ethical and spiritual values and their role in promoting a “dialogue among civilisations”. “We have to change the mind-set and this can only be done through education, science and technology and ethical values,” said Joshi. A value declaration will be adopted at the end of the conference.

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