Seminar – Toward a New India: Prospects and Challenges

Date: May 26, 2022

In continuation of the Sri Aurobindo Society’s celebrations of 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and 75th year of India’s independence, and as part of the Bhārata Shakti Exhibition event, a half-day seminar was held on May 26th at Sri Aurobindo Society campus. The seminar’s theme was – Toward a New India: Prospects and Challenges.

The opening address was given by Shri Vijay Poddar (Vijay bhai) of SAS in which he highlighted ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Vision for New India’. He emphasised the need for strengthening our faith in ourselves, and the Divine Shakti as we continue to offer the work we do in our given fields of activity toward building a new India. He reminded that new Inia must be built on the eternal foundations of dharma and truth – which have since times immemorial shaped the march of Indian civilisation. Highlighting the need for creating well-researched learning resources which will bring the truth of Indian civilisational heritage to the youth of today, he invited Pondicherry University to collaborate with Sri Aurobindo Society in this endeavour.

Prof. Gurmeet Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Pondicherry University was the keynote speaker at the seminar. In his address titled – ‘Rethinking Educational Leadership for New India’ he highlighted how the New Educational Policy has drawn inspiration from the educational thought of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He particularly pointed out the increased curricular choices, greater flexibility in programmes and increased freedom for students’ exit points as some of the key features which will take Indian higher education to greater heights making it more relevant to the changing circumstances. He also brought up the need for universities to actively collaborate and share their varied resources to help students gain greater benefit.

The panel discussion on the theme – ‘India as a Leader of the World: Prospects and Challenges’ was chaired by Dr. Beloo Mehra of SAS. She introduced the topic briefly by highlighting a definition of leader as given by Sri Aurobindo. Dr. Nanda Kishor from the Department of Politics and International Relations, Pondicherry University was the first panelist. He shared some insights from Kautilya’s Arthashastra and the Mahabharata to highlight the concept of dharmic leadership or enlightened leadership, which he said is the kind of leadership India must offer to the world.

The other panelist, Dr. Richa Tiwari from the Department of Politics and International Relations, Pondicherry University, brought in Sri Aurobindo’s vision of India as a spiritual leader of the world. She highlighted that the first task required is for Indians to rediscover and realise in themselves the life-affirming spiritual truths of India on which our civilisation is based. Then alone India can rise to truly lead the world.

The audience interaction at the end of the panel discussion was highly engaging and brought in several points for further elaboration. Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, SAS emphasised the spiritual leadership role of Indian culture and nation. He also congratulated all the speakers for sharing some valuable insights throughout the seminar.

About 40 people attended the seminar. Ms. Gayatri Majumdar, compere of the event thanked all the participants and speakers for making the seminar a success.

A photo-gallery of the seminar can be accessed HERE.

Recordings of talks will be available soon on SAS YouTube channel.

~ Report by Beloo Mehra

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