Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal. ”
– Swami Vivekananda, Chicago Speech on September 1893, at the World Parliament of Religions
The World Economic Forum Meet at Davos and the commemorative event of celebrating 25 years of ASEAN-Bharat Summit in Delhi are two distinct events; still they share something in common. The theme for this year’s Davos Summit was ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’ and the tagline of ASEAN-Bharat Summit for this 25 years engagement has been ‘Shared Values, Common Destiny’. Both the events are certainly concerned about the ‘future’, the difference lies in ‘values’.
Since its inception 1971, Davos as forum is known for defining the global agenda for economic management. For the obvious reasons the content and contours of the deliberations revolved around economic inequalities, trends in globalisation and ensuring growth model essentially rooted in the Western understanding of economics as the activity fundamental to all other pursuits in life. On January 23, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi transforming the Davos agenda provided a new narrative to the economic forum.
Last year, in the same opening plenary session, Chinese President Xi Jinping unequivocally declared that China has arrived to lead the world, raising concerns over the trend of protectionism in Globalisation. Prime Minister Modi also did that but in a different way, crystalising philosophical basis to Bharat’s leadership and articulating alternative to both protectionism and lopsided nature of Globalisation. Showing the Bharatiya way of Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, he rightly placed Bharat as a leader but not only for itself but for the benefit of entire world. While giving a call to world leaders and industrial giants to invest in Bharat, he did not speak just about economics but wellness and peace with prosperity.
The larger chunk of this speech was about the theme of the conference, ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’, in which PM Modi spoke about the global challenges of climate change, terrorism and protectionism but more importantly crystalised the nature of the contemporary fractured world. What he explained as the ‘frightening nature of fractured situation’ is the crux of most of these problems and Bharatiya point of view can provide the alternative as we see these problems differently. The individual, societal and global fractured symptoms explained by Modi are direct outcome of the Anglo-Saxon values and Western model of development that sees dichotomy and binary in everything. So the eternal conflict between nature and human beings, individual and society is inherent in those set of values.
What differentiates the shared values of ‘ASEAN-Bharat’ partnership is their Hindu-Buddhist ethos that focuses on inherent underlying unity in the existence of entire world. Therefore, not the conflict but complementarity is at the heart of this civilisational set of values. At Davos, while addressing plenary session Narendra Modi invoked the same values as a solution to the global problems and this Republic Day, ASEAN and Bharat are celebrating the same values which were denigrated as ‘Asiatic’ ones. When the entire world is grappling with the problems created by the values of binary, Bharat along with Southeast Asian neighbours is sharing the civilisational solution. These shared values that Swami Vivekananda had also underscored in the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, is the only hope for the peaceful and prosperous destiny of not just human beings but the entire universe.