Living Together, differently. Our Symposium on India and Europe Now Available
Ananya Vajpeyi 2 September 2013

Why look to India? This great Asian country is the paradigm of democracy, the history of which is closely linked to the need to acknowledge, manage, and involve minorities in looking after the res publica. It is a modern democracy, addressing the challenges posed by pluralism. The globalized world means the emergence of similar challenges in Europe and the entire Western world; ours is an age of slowdown in the world economy and of massive migrations, as well as of growing tension arising from differences between cultures, religious traditions and conflicting identities. While minorities begin to demand acknowledgement, visibility and citizenship, European countries are increasingly providing solutions to this reality that are dominated by fear of the ‘Other’ and his or her closeness, fueled by inadequate policies and the populist fanaticism of a growing number of xenophobic political players hostile to dialogue. Europe has something to learn from India’s experience.

In 2010 Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations launched the idea of a dialogue between European and Indian intellectuals and scholars, to address the challenges of pluralism and the status of minorities, an idea that resulted in the Venice-Delhi Seminars project. The overall subject addressed by this project is Cultural Pluralism. Hence, the Venice-Delhi project aims to be an exceptional opportunity for an intellectual and intercultural exchange of knowledge between East and West, offering in-depth analyses of political, social and economic trends in societies – like the Indian and, increasingly, the European one – where cultural, ethnic and religious differences coexist.

The first seminar addressed Cultural and Religious Pluralism: The Muslim Minority in the Indian Democracy—a Comparison between the East and the West and was held in October 2010 in Delhi, with the partnership of the Indian magazine Seminar, the India Habitat Centre and Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi. Proceedings from this symposium were published in a 2011 special issue of Seminar magazine: contents of this issue are available for free by clicking here.

The second edition of the Venice Delhi Seminars was held in 2012 at Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice and scholars from India, Europe and the United States addressed the topic Cultural differences in times of economic turbulence. Social tensions, cultural conflicts and policies of integration in Europe and India. We have analysed the challenges that cultural differences and composite growing minorities are presenting to European democracies in times of financial turbulence, and on the other, Indian society’s intense pluralist experience during this phase of extremely rapid growth, while still dealing with dramatic poverty and acute inequality. As far as Europe is concerned, papers will concentrate on social tension, cultural conflict and the problems posed by the integration of migrants in these current critical times.

Today, we present the second Reset-DoC special edition of Seminar magazine, drawn from our 2012 Venice conference, with contributions by leading scholars from around the world. This issue of Seminar (September 2013, no.649, “Living together”), which can be ordered at this link or by contacting the editorial staff at ResetDoc, hosts the following papers, many written within the framework of a comparison between East and West:

THE PROBLEM – Posed by Giancarlo Bosetti, Director, Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations, Rome

GROUP IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE – Roberto Toscano, former Italian Ambassador to New Delhi and Tehran; President, Intercultura Foundation and Member, Reset-Doc’s scientific committee, Madrid

LOOKING FOR INDIANNESS – Michel Danino, Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Management Ranchi; Guest Professor, IIT Gandhinagar

DEMOCRACY OR CAPITALISM? – Jürgen Habermas, philosopher, sociologist and historian, Germany

RECONCILING DEVELOPMENT WITH DEMOCRACY – Mani Shankar Aiyar, former diplomat, Member of Parliament (Raja Sabha); Chairman, Expert Committee, Panchayat Raj Institutions, Delhi

FLAILING STATE, FRAYING DEMOCRACY – Raj Liberhan, Director, India Habitat Centre, Delhi

RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL TURBULENCE – Péter Losonczi, Centre for Metaphysics and Philosophy of Culture, KU Leuven, Belgium

TOWARDS A FEDERAL EUROPE – Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; President, Reset-Doc’s scientific committee, Rome

THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? – Michel Wieviorka, Directeur d’etudes at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), and Director, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris

PLURALITY WITHOUT PLURALISM – Ananya Vajpeyi, Kluge Fellow, the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

EUROPE AND ITS MUSLIMS – Nilüfer Göle, Directrice d’études at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (CESPRA-EHESS), Paris

AGAINST MULTICULTURALISM AND MULTIPLE MODERNITIES – Dipankar Gupta, sociologist; Distinguished Professor, Shiv Nadar University, Delhi

RESPONDING TO OFFENSIVE EXPRESSION – Peter Ronald deSouza, former Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla

THE EUROPEAN POLITICAL ENLIGHTENMENT – Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, and Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University, New York

BOOKS – Reviewed by Shefali Chandra

COMMENT: Options Before the Congress – by M. Aslam, University of Allahabad; and  Difficult Days Ahead by Asha Sarangi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

COMMUNICATION – Received from Maansi Parpiani, Mumbai

The Venice-Delhi Seminars 2012 were  organized in partnership with Seminar magazine, India Habitat Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia and Fondazione Giorgio Cini, which hosted the conference in Venice. The conference was held under the patronage of the University of Padua. The conference was made possible thanks to the essential support of the Nomis Foundation and its President Georg Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Participants at the conference included Stefano Allievi (Professor, University of Padova, Italy), Mani Shankar Aiyar (Member of Parliament, India, former Minister and Diplomat), Giuliano Amato (former Prime Minister of Italy, President of the Reset-Doc’s Scientific Committee), Rajeev Bhargava (Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi), Akeel Bilgrami (Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, Faculty member of the Committee on Global Thought), Giancarlo Bosetti (Director, Reset and Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations), Nina zu Fürstenberg (President, Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations), Peter Ronald deSouza (Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla), Pasquale Gagliardi (Secretary General of the Giorgio Cini Foundation), Nilüfer Göle (Directeur d’études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris), Renzo Guolo (Italian sociologist, Professor at the University of Padua), Dipankar Gupta (Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi), Najeeb Jung (Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi), Sebastiano Maffettone (Professor in Political Philosophy and Dean of Political Science at LUISS University, Italy), Vincenzo Pace (Professor at the University of Padua, Director of the Department of Sociology and Intercultural Studies), Antonio Rigopoulos (Professor in Indian Philosophies and Religions, University of Venice), Olivier Roy (Professor of Social and Political Theory at the European University Institute in Florence), Federico Squarcini (Professor in Indian Philosophies and Religions, University of Venice), Georg Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (Honorary President, Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations), Roberto Toscano (Former Italian Ambassador to India), Ananya Vajpeyi (Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, and Senior Fellow with the American Institute of Indian Studies), Michel Wieviorka (Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and President of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris), Giuseppe Zaccaria (Rector, University of Padua)

Venice Delhi Seminars 2013

The Venice-Delhi Seminars 2013 will discuss Religious pluralism and freedom of expression in India, Europe and other countries
will take place in Delhi, India (10-12 October 2013) at the India Habitat Centre. For more information click here

The Venice-Delhi Seminars are made possible thanks to a grant from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



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