New Global Dialogue Series on India launched in UK
London, Feb 29: A new Global Dialogue Series to explore subjects that reflect India’s international outlook and impact the India-UK relationship has been launched in London as part of a worldwide effort.
The launch event, around the topic of “Does India have an image problem?”, was held at the Nehru Centre — the cultural wing of the Indian High Commission in London — on Thursday evening and involved business chiefs, senior politicians, mediapersons, UK government officials and thought leaders.
Some of the special guests at the inaugural discussion included Ashok Malik, Policy Advisor in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), economist and author Lord Meghnad Desai, Vedanta Resources chief Anil Agarwal, Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi and Australian political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby.
“The aim of this series is to open a free and frank discussion on India with a broad spectrum of thought leaders from across the globe,” said Manoj Ladwa, CEO of India Inc. — the UK-based media house behind the new series.
“The series will not shy away from tackling the tough questions head-on to hold leaders to account, dispel any misconceptions and also pave the way for a truly strategic dialogue on India’s increasingly globalised agenda. With that in mind, the next dialogue will be with Sir Philip Barton — the newly-appointed UK High Commissioner to Delhi,” he said.
The discussions around the topic of India’s image problem, held under the Chatham House Rule, revolved around the misrepresentation and poor communication that resulted in negative perceptions in the western media of some Indian government decisions.
The under-reporting of social infrastructure programmes, including the Narendra Modi-led government’s revolutionary water conservation efforts, was highlighted as contributing to an image problem for a pluralistic and democratic country like India.
The general conclusion was that issues around the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and the “unfortunate juxtapositioning” of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) needed to be much better communicated around the world.
It was highlighted that while the NRC was not going ahead at this time, the CAA was specifically targeted at giving stateless people citizenship rights.
In Kashmir, it was argued, the status quo was “simply unsustainable” because it held back the region’s growth and development and that the Indian government’s move was aimed at creating an ecosystem for free-and-fair elections for the people of the region to drive the narrative, and not allow it to be driven by militants.
Besides the UK, similar dialogues as part of the new dialogue series have been planned in Singapore, Dubai and the US in the coming months.