Monday, December 22, 2014

Jaipur Literature Festival - Part 5 - Who Will Rule the World?

The second session I got to attend on Day 2 of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2014, had panelists from several different countries. They were all authors who had written fiction and non-fiction books about countries like India, China and other places in Europe and Latin America.
The panelists were Sunil Khilnani, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Xiaolu Guo, Meghnad Desai, and Rana Mitter moderated by Dipankar Gupta

The discussion was about which country will emerge a superpower in the 21st century, with claims that India and China are fore-runner for that coveted place.

Rana Mitter described how China was setting a standard that the world will follow. He mentioned how trade policy was setup by China and not India or Latin America. China’s central TV Station has 12 channels in Latin America and 20 channels in America. He concluded his opening remarks by mentioning how economic growth, stability and gradual move to liberalization put China on top.

Xialu Guo gave a cultural perspective on this issue. She was from China herself. She commented how the dominant world culture was the American culture. It permeated the world through its soaps, movies, lifestyle and literature. She also mentioned how most educated people in China spoke English. But it is not the other way round, where native English speakers from the West speak Chinese

Dipankar Bannerjee stated how countries must learn to rule themselves before ruling the world. He mentioned the examples of the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland and Norway that took care of their own people well. Oscar Guardiola Riviera mentioned how the non alignment movement of certain Asian countries in the 1960’s threatened the ruling of the world idea.

Lord Meghnad Desai mentioned how modern culture was influenced by European cultural development of the Renaissance period.

I was mesmerized by the quality of discussion as a member of the audience. In that one hour I got perspective from over five different countries.

Why only learn locally?

It sowed a thought in my mind, of the importance of a global education. For instance it always troubled me, why I was made to learn only Indian History in detail in my school. Why was I not encouraged to learn about the history of other countries in the world.  Just because I was from India, did not mean I had to limit my knowledge only to what happens only in India. I was also a citizen of the world and shared the planet with many other countries of the world.

So I decided to go back home after the festival and find ways to understand the culture and history of the countries discussed during the panel discussion on the day and several other countries as well.

Let us Learn Together
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