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 immigration, 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.
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 initially resulted in the Conference on Cultural and Religious Pluralism: The Muslim Minority in the Indian Democracy—a Comparison between the East and the West. The conference was held from October 18-20 2010 in Delhi in partnership with the Indian magazine Seminar, the India Habitat Centre and Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi.
Concerning the conditions of the Muslim minority in India, on this page you can download the essay (PDF) by Mujibur Rehman, professor at the Centre for Minorities Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia Islamic University, Delhi. The original essay, “Muslim Politics in India and the 15th General Election” was published in Ajay K. Mehra (edit.), Emerging Trends in Indian Politics and 15th General Elections, Routeledge Publications, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 133-156.
Furthermore, we present today the publication of a special edition of Seminar, an English language Indian magazine, written entirely by ResetDoc and a number of speakers at the Delhi conference. This issue of Seminar (May 2011, no.621, “Minorities and Pluralism”), 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:
CREATING NEW DEMOCRATIC BONDS, Benjamin Barber, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos and President, CivWorld, New York
THE WAR OVER MOSQUES, Stefano Allievi, Professor, University of Padova, Italy
WHEN PLURALISM KEEPS THE WEST ALIVE, Nilüfer Göle, Professor of Sociology, Centre d’Analyse et d’Intervention Sociologiques (CADIS), École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, interviewed by Nicola Missaglia
LIBERAL STATES AND MUSLIM MINORITIES, Anwar Alam, Director, Centre for West Asian Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
THE ‘TELOS’ OF MODERNITY, Dipankar Gupta, Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi, interviewed by Nicola Missaglia
HOW THE MEDIA INCREASES (IN)SECURITY, Giancarlo Bosetti, Director, ‘Reset’, Rome
PATHS TO A MULTICULTURAL MODERNITY, Roberto Toscano, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former Ambassador of Italy to India, in conversation with Nicola Missaglia
GENDER AND MODERNITY, Ruchira Gupta, President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, Delhi
MAKING UP FOR LOST COMPLEXITY, Mariella Gramaglia, former Secretary for Equal Opportunities of the Rome Council, Rome
SHOULD EUROPE LEARN FROM INDIAN SECULARISM?, Rajeev Bhargava, Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
BOOKS, reviewed by Harsh Sethi and Ajay K. Mehra
Reading Gandhi With Lelyveld
Shiv Visvanathan, Social Science Nomad
Tridip Suhrud, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute for Information and Communication Technology, (DA-IICT), Gandhinagar
IN MEMORIAM, Ajit Bhattacharjea 1924-2011
The index and introduction can now be found online at www.india-seminar.com, while the entire magazine will be published online in mid-June 2011.
Participants at the Delhi conference included: Imtiaz Ahmad (former Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi), Anwar Alam (Director, Centre for West Asian Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi), Stefano Allievi (Professor, University of Padova, Italy), Benjamin Barber (Distinguished Senior Fellow, Dçmos and President, CivWorld, New York), Rajeev Bhargava (Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi), Giancarlo Bosetti (Director, Reset), Shoma Chaudhury (Managing Editor, Tehelka, Delhi), Nina zu Fürstenberg (Director, ResetDoc), Nilüfer Göle (Professor of Sociology at the Centre d’Analyse et d’Intervention Sociologiques, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris), Mariella Gramaglia (former Secretary for Equal Opportunities of the Rome Council), Dipankar Gupta (Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi), Ruchira Gupta (President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide), Ramin Jahanbegloo (Professor, Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto), Najeeb Jung (Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi), Madhu Kishwar (Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and Founder of Manushi Sangathan), Jörg Lau (writer and journalist, Die Zeit), Raj Liberhan (Director, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi), Giovanna Melandri (former Minister of Culture of Italy, MP for the Democratic Party), Pankaj Pachauri (NDTV, Delhi), Mujibur Rehman (Faculty at the Centre for Minorities Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi), Asaf Savas Akat (economist, Bilgi University, Istanbul), Malvika Singh (Publisher, Seminar, Delhi), Harsh Sethi (Consulting Editor, Seminar, Delhi), Georg Heinreich Thyssen-Bornemisza (President of ResetDoc), Roberto Toscano (Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC, and former Italian Ambassador in India).
Translated by Francesca Simmons