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The World Hindu Congress and Pondy Lit Fest: Experiences Extraordinaire!

Over the last 2 months, I have attended and spoken at two prestigious congresses that have left an indelible mark on me. In August I attended the esteemed Pondy Lit Fest which had the theme – Bharat Shakti that owes its naissance from Sri Aurobindo’s quote that reads: “India is a Bharat Shakti the living energy of a great spiritual conception and fidelity to it is very principle of her existence.” As a literature lover, the festival not only touched upon themes of literary, cultural, social, artistic and political importance, but also to discuss and debate the direction India should take at this important juncture in its history.

Amish Tripathi, author of the Shiva trilogy, Aravind Neelakanthan, co-author of Breaking India, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the PM, Bibek Debroy, Swarajya editor R Jagannathan, founder of Tapovan Open University of Yoga and Ayurveda, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, national award-winning actor Pallavi Joshi and Dr Sampadananda Mishra, the director of SARC were some of the revered attendees. We pondered over issues of world politics, internal disturbances and social unrest that have been doing the rounds in the past few years and possible solutions for the same.

I was privileged to moderate a session on technology, energy and sustainability which witnessed a rich exchange of ideas related to India’s growth and development and what they predicted will happen over the next 5 to 10 years in terms of technology and energy sustainability. Selecting Puducherry as the location for the festival was a brilliant decision considering the land of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh has a rich blend of history of Indian and French culture, a melee of diversity.

Last week, I attended the World Hindu Congress in Chicago where state heads and world leaders from across the globe gathered with an objective to re-connect the 1.1 billion Hindus worldwide with their common heritage and spiritual link to people of all other denominations. For three days, 2,500 delegates converged to deliberate, introspect and draw out a plan of action in keeping with the motto derived from Chapter 37 of the Mahabharata: ‘Think Collectively, Act Valiantly’ and from the Rig Veda: ‘Stay Together, Express Together.’

At the Congress, I was opportune to be the chairperson of a discussion and also speak on the topics – Women and Economy: Recognition of Hindu Women’s Contribution. I spoke on how women are the engines of an economy, the catalysts that bring about change and why is the effort being put in by half of the world’s population being ignored blindly?

Speakers in the various events included Indian American Prof. Ved Nanda of the University of Denver; Lord Jitesh Gadhia, the youngest Briton of Indian origin in the House of Lords; Swati Dandekar, a former legislator from Iowa; Rep. Raja Krishnmoorthi, D-Illinois; Columbia Prof. Arvind Panagariya, a former economic advisor to the Indian government and veteran actor Anupam Kher.

 

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