The Seminar on the theme : PEACE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD: TOWARDS A VISIONARY APPROACH was presided over by Mr. Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary GOI.

H. E. Mr. Jon Westborg, Ambassador of Norway in India, inaugurated the Seminar.

The Chief Guest of the Seminar was Ambassador A. N. Ram, Senior Diplomat and Political Analyst. The Special Guest of the Seminar was Ms. Shalini Diwan, Director, United Nations Information Centre, India.

The eminent panelist included : Prof. Lokesh Chandra, Mr Tuisi, Prof. Syed Shahid Mahdi, Ambassador A.N. Ram, Mr. Lalit Mansingh, Prof. Kapil Kumar and Mr. Satya Paul.

Ms. Ajeet Cour welcoming the panelists. From left: Prof. Lokesh Chandra, H.E. Mr. Jon Westborg, Mr. Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary of India, Ambassador A.N. Ram, former Diplomat, Mr. K.T.S. Tuisi, former Solicitor General of India, and Ms. Ajeet Cour

Ms. Ajeet Cour with Ms. Shalini Diwan, Director UNIC


The Seminar was attended by diplomats of the Embassies of USA, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Laos, Azerbaijan, the representative of the European Commission, besides scholars from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia and IGNOU, mediapersons and others.

Ms. Ajeet Cour, Founder President, Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, welcomed the participants. In her address she highlighted the perceptions of distrust of the neighbouring countries who suspect that India has a big-brotherly attitude. This suspicion is like a phobia, the cure of which lies with the neighbours only, she added. Quoting Ben Okri, she highlighted the importance of peace for the progress and well-being of the milieu. In her opinion, compassion and reconciliation and dialogue were the only means for realizing a world of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

Mr. Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary GOI, in his presidential address, stated that the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature and Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature had endeavored to bring together the idealists and the realists through various initiatives. He also referred to the several historical and cultural strands common to South Asian countries.

H. E. Mr. Jon Westborg, Ambassador of Norway in India, in his  inaugural address stated that the Seminar was a meeting of minds between the strategic thinkers and those with romantic vision.

He added that the subject was one which needed all peace-loving countries to be engaged with reminiscing from the past. He said that he had seen villages burning during the times of the Partition of India Pakistan. Having spent 10 years in Sri Lanka, he had seen what violencehad done to the economy and cultural fabric of that country. Delineating the bottlenecks to progress, he said that in South Asia, the ultimate task is to seek measures for conflict-resolution and avoidance and elimination of violence at all costs, because violence is the costliest and the most time-consuming path to solving problems. The State has an obligation to ensure that its citizens can live in peace. In his opinion, dialogue is the only effective means for resolving issues of conflict. Ambassador A. N. Ram, senior diplomat and political analyst and diplomatic expert, in his address, outlined the need for recognising that SAARC needed an alternate approach and fresh thinking. Prof. Lokesh Chandra, the eminent scholar, observed that if India and Pakistan were free to take independent decisions, and were not circumscribed by global concerns, a very positive relationship could have evolved.

Mr. K.T.S. Tulsi, former Solicitor General of India, referring to the India- Pakistan relations, reinforced the fact that it was unfortunate that peace in the neighbourhood could not be achieved in the last 60 years despite similarities of common language and heritage. Peace could also not be achieved, he observed, despite the fact that diplomats of both countries have made several positive gestures.

Ms. Shalini Diwan, Director United Nations Information Centre, India, at the outset lauded the Foundation, and the parent organisation the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, for having been formally recognized for its work through its Association with the Department of Public Information, United Nations.

Speaking on the occasion