Some Thoughts on the World of Tomorrow -By Hamid Ansari

I am happy to be in this enchanting city and grateful to the Rector and the faculty of the Yerevan State University for inviting me today.
I have come to a land some distance from India but not far from the individual and collective memory of Indians. I myself was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), and spent many years in the city. Amongst its historic features are Armenian churches and other signs of its Armenian inhabitants. Father Michael Chamich’s History of Armenia was translated and published in Calcutta in 1827. More recently, historians like Mesrovb Jacob Seth and George Bournoutian have recorded the Armenian contribution in India to trade and commerce as to various cultural and charitable activities.

Less known but nevertheless a part of spiritual history of my land is the personality of Armenian descent known in medieval chronicles as Sarmad, a mystic of who travelled from somewhere in this region to India, led an unconventional life and was executed for blasphemy in 1660 because he espoused a creed that distinguished between states of ‘negation and affirmation’. One of the leaders of our freedom movement and a close aide of Mahatma Gandhi, Abul Kalam Azad, was deeply influenced by Sarmad’s free thinking and humanitarianism.
It is thus evident that well before modern times; the flow of people, trade and ideas was not an unusual occurrence. My purpose today, however, is to talk about the future, not the past.
The older generation in this audience knows and the younger ones have been told that the 20th century was a period of organized insanity characterized by metamyths and megadeaths. These led an eminent historian to conclude that ‘our world risks both explosion and implosion;’ hence ‘it must change’.

The expectation that the changes in the last decade of the century would bring forth a more harmonious world in which international cooperation in solving international problems would be addressed by peaceful means in conformity with the principles of justice and international law did not materialize. On the contrary, older patterns of thought and practice persisted and, aided by newer technologies, resulted in explosions as well as implosions in different parts of our world. The promise of globalization also showed its limitations; the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated, in the words of one analyst, a ‘systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed.’ Both, in the final analysis, exhibited failures of governance at national and global levels.

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Ansari’s visit to Poland & Armenia: India steps up diplomatic connect with Central Europe & Eurasia

Diplomacy and real-politick will blend with culture and business during Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Poland and Armenia this week that is expected to re-energise India’s relations with these two emerging economies in Central Europe and the Eurasian region.
In India, public attention has largely focused on the country’s relations with countries in Western Europe, but not many know about the unfolding story about New Delhi’s deepening connect with Central and Eastern Europe, a region that is suffused with love for Indian culture, philosophy and ethos.
“These are two important countries with whom we have excellent relations. I think any relationship no matter how strong or deep the economic, cultural, political, scientific and other areas of cooperation might be can only be sustained through high level visits,” said Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) in India’s external affairs ministry ahead of the visit.

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Toasting India-Thailand Sanskrit Bonding: Honouring Princess Sirindhorn

It was a time for Indo-Thai cultural bonding. Sanskrit and sanskriti (culture) blended beautifully as Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was conferred the first World Sanskrit Award in the Indian capital on November 21.
“The Thai language is very different from Sanskrit. But culturally it’s very similar,” the Thai princess said after receiving the first Sanskrit award instituted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). It’s a great honour to receive it from the Vice President of the country. The award included US$ 20,000, a citation and a lapel pin.
Sirindhorn, fondly called by Thais as “Phra Thep” (“princess angel”), has emerged as a top contender for the crown in Thailand after the recent death of the country’s beloved monarch. A well-regarded scholar of Sanskrit, the 60-year-old Thai Princess has served as Royal Patron for the World Sanskrit Conference.
In his speech, Vice-President Hamid Ansari evoked the beauty and depth of the Sanskrit language in which many of India’s iconic religious and philosophical texts were written.
Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar underscored the effortless spread of Sanskrit to foreign countries over the years, and cited it as an example of India’s soft power. “Sanskrit did not travel with arms and is the first true evidence of what we today call soft power,” he said.

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Hamid Ansari in Mali: Amid Pakistan strikes, India quietly bolsters anti-terror front with Africa

Amid headline-hogging strikes by India to hit back at Pakistan for the Uri massacre, thousands of miles away Vice-President Hamid Ansari engaged in quiet and effective diplomacy to forge a united front against terror with two key West African nations, including Nigeria and Mali. In Bamako, the capital of Mali, the vice-president outlined a template of mutual empowerment with the African continent by dovetailing India’s Africa policy with the vision of African resurgence crystallized in Agenda 2063.

In the first high-level visit from India to Mali, Mr Ansari pledged India’s unremitting support for the reconstruction and flowering of this nation of poets, scholars and musicians and underscored that New Delhi will work closely with Bamako to restore the glory of Timbuktu, which has been savagely assaulted and scarred by al-Qaeda in Maghreb militants.

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Ansari backs Mali’s reconstruction: ‘India’s ties with Africa not transactional’

India’s outreach to Francophone Africa has acquired a new ballast with the first high-level visit from New Delhi to the land-locked West African nation, home to scholars, musicians and historians.

India has strongly rallied in solidarity with Mali, the gritty West African nation ravaged by terrorism, but is determined to script its resurgence. In a defining speech at the National Assembly of Mali, Vice-President Hamid Ansari underscored key pillars of the burgeoning India-Africa partnership and pledged India’s unstinting support for the reconstruction of Africa’s seventh largest state. Mr Ansari underlined that India’s relations with Africa go beyond merely transactional partnership, but is rooted in emotive people-to-people connections, political solidarity and an emerging contemporary partnership animated by mutual resurgence. Here are key highlights/excerpts of Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s speech at Mali’s parliament on September 30:

In recent years we have sought to close the distance that separates us physically. We were happy to welcome His Excellency President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta when he participated in the 3rd India – Africa Forum Summit hosted by India in October last year. We value the contribution of Mali to the success of the Summit.

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Isolate Pakistan: In Nigeria, Ansari targets terror-sponsoring states

In a veiled reference to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India, Vice-President Hamid Ansari has made a compelling case for bolstering counter-terror cooperation with Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, and underlined that “the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy should be unequivocally condemned.”

Invoking the common suffering experienced by Nigeria and India from the scourge of terrorism, Mr Ansari exhorted the world community not to make any distinction between good and bad terrorists and speak in one voice against this trans-national menace.

“Your country, like mine, has suffered the horrors of this scourge of terrorism. Terrorism today has global reach, no city remains safe,” Mr Ansari said at the National Defence College in the Nigerian capital Abuja on September 28. “Use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is to be unequivocally condemned. There can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists.” Delinking terrorism with religion, the vice-president argued that a terrorist can’t have any religion or be afforded political sanctuary.

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India, Nigeria open new avenues to energise ties: Focus on nuclear energy, food security

Bolstering their economic and energy partnership, India and Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, have decided to open new avenues of cooperation in areas of civil nuclear energy, energy, space and food security.

The talks between India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari and his Nigerian counterpart Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on September 27 culminated in an ambitious template for scaling up the India-Nigeria relations in key areas that included, among others, hydrocarbons, renewable energy, defence, space and counter-terror cooperation.

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