MPI alumnus Padmakuma M M (2019) is one of the convenors of a National Conference on Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue in India. The conference was organized by organised by CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore in association with Centre for the Study of World Religions (DVK), Bangalore and National Foundation for Communal Harmony Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, New Delhi. The conference will be held September 24 and 25, 2019. So, while it is to late to attend the conference, we wanted to share what was being organized as an example of who MPI alumni are involved in peacebuilding and to give others ideas of what they might do.
The goal of the conference is "to deliberate over Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue in the context of promoting communal harmony in our Nation." The objectives of the conference are:
- Toensureaplatformformembersfromdifferent religiousandfaithbackgroundstocometogether and reflect over the need for interfaith dialogue
- To take stock and spread awareness about the ways in which the State, Secularism are enablers of Interfaith Dialogue
- To encourage academicians and the State to deliberate on interfaith dialogue as a mechanism for promoting communal harmony
- To promote a culture of peace and harmony and cherish diverse identities and communities in our country
The focus areas of the conference are:
- Providing platforms for people working on Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue to come together and deliberate
- Motivating academicians to explore the overlap and intersection of State, Secularism and interfaith Dialogue
- Initiating peace building activities through interfaith approaches
The concept note for the conference goes on to say:
Some of the glorious chapters of religious pluralism in the world have been scripted by the Indian civilization. From hosting a significant number of members from the three major religions of the world - Christianity, Islam and Hinduism - to being the place of origin for Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, India has been a great habitat for diverse religions. In the immensity of its history and geography, India has socio-culturally presented an enabling and conducive atmosphere for multi-religious co-existence to thrive. In modern times, our Constitution has come in to assert the legacy of inter-religious harmony and guarantee that for its citizens.
While the meta view of India’s plural culture might give a pleasant picture, ground realities urge us to juxtapose alternative accounts and draw our conclusions. Religious antagonisms and conflicts, caste inequalities and atrocities, class hierarchies and tensions are there in varied permutations and combinations to often upset the secular ideals of the nation. In moments of crises, such structures are quick to spread hatred amongst the zealots and invest doubt amongst those who otherwise believe in harmony. Given our civilisational ethos, multi- religious society and secular constitution, it becomes pertinent then that the ones who stand for humanity, the nation-state and religion admit the gravity of the context and take part in meaningful dialogue. The social, religious and political communities ought to have deep conversations on what is needed to have a positive engagement with differing religious identities and communities. This conference on Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue hopes to create such a platform to deliberate.
The conference will host religious leaders, academicians, scholars, peace activists, members from civil society, students and the public who are either engaged in or interested in the intersection of religion, politics and peacebuilding. The conference hopes to provide a platform for like-minded people to reflect over contemporary challenges to Secularism and Interfaith Dialogue. From the springboard of the academia, the conference hopes to impact social, cultural, and political deliberations on sustaining the democratic and secular fabric in our multicultural and multi-religious society and thereby ensure a culture of peace for our Nation that is durable, relevant, and egalitarian.
The themes of the conference are:
- Need for studying State, Secularism and Interfaith Dialogue
- Secular and interfaith approaches by the State to resolve conflict and build peace
- Challenges to the State in promoting Secularism and Interfaith Dialogue
- Challenges to Secularism and Interfaith Dialogue, from the State
- Modern challenges to Secularism, State and Interfaith dialogue
- Youth, Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue
- Minorities, Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue
- Places of Worship, Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue
- The Economy, Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue
- Peacebuilding, Secularism, State and Interfaith Dialogue