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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Imran Khan not attend India Today Conclave - cites presence of Rushdie

The enigmatic dasher who is not part of Asia Cup squad is to speak on ‘Rising from the Ashes’.

The word ‘Secular’ has been (mis)interpreted by many to their likes and in India it has very different meaning and implications – depending on who or which Organisation becomes its subject matter.  The word secular was inserted into the preamble by the Forty-second Amendment in 1976.   It implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance. India, therefore does not have an official state religion.  Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.  Quite often, here, the term is used in the sense of atheism rejecting the acceptance of God, in a Country where religion, heritage and culture are very central to the life of people. 

The list of speakers offers a very curious and interesting mix, representing various walks of life indeed.  Some amongst them are stated to be : Adi Godrej; Akhilesh Yadav; Anna Hazare; Arun Jaitley; Harbhajan Singh; Kangana Ranaut; Kapil Sibal; Kareena Kapoor; Montek Singh Ahluwalia; Namal Rajapaksa; Nitin Gadkari; Omar Abdullah; Prakash Padukone; Pranab Mukherjee; Rahul Bajaj; Sandeep Singh & ………………..  That is some names from the long list of speakers at India Today Conclave 2012 – which attracts more news following the news of Imran Khan cancelling his trip protesting to the presence of Salman Rushdie in that list. 

There are now reports that Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan will not participating in the conference in India because author Sir Salman Rushdie is due to speak there.  Imran is quoted as stating that Rushdie  had "caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims".  A statement released by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf,  said Mr Khan had cancelled his participation in the conference organised by the India Today media group on learning of Sir Salman's participation. The statement said Mr Khan had "received and seen" the programme on Tuesday evening, and took the decision soon after.   "Khan expressed his regrets to the organizers but stated categorically that he could not even think of participating in any programme that included Salman Rushdie who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe," the statement said. 

Salman Rushdie’s speech is titled "The Liberty Verses - I am What I am and That's All That I am".  One may recall that recently in Jan 2012, Rushdie  withdrew from attending the Jaipur Literature Festival, saying that sources had told him of a death threat.

Imran Khan was to deliver the closing gala dinner keynote address, Captain Pakistan: The Ultimate Test.  Perhaps it is clearly Pak’s domestic political compulsions and his aspiration to continue riding a popularity wave that made his announce this.  In January at a different wicket at the Kolkata Book Fair, Imran had slammed Rushdie to which Rushdie reacted in a tweet -   "Thirty years ago @ImranKhanPTI was a fan at my 1982 Delhi lecture and 100% secular. Now my work "humiliates" his "faith."

India Today Conclave platforms have provided meeting of distinctly opposite political entities too but have been interesting debates. Here is a file photo of last year showing Jairam Ramesh, Narendra Modi and Aroon Purie

India Today Conclave 2012 – has the  idea of the 21st century being the 'Asian Century' – Asia moving rapidly from hesitant prophecy to likely reality.   Asia as a region  represents a hive of economic and geopolitical intent and action. Leading Asia's increasingly significant role in the world is China.  The conclave is to represent the best and the shortcomings of Asia.    India Today Conclave is to  bring together the best minds across politics and economics, business and administration, security affairs and social issues, and the sciences and the arts from around the world to examine this exciting present—and an even more exciting future.  The issues and discussions are to include :  How will Asia continue to power its ambition? How will Asian nations evolve and influence one another? How will Asia's energy shape the region and the world, affecting critical areas such as geopolitics, security, trade and the environment? And, what will India’s place be in this dynamic equation? What will it take for India to fulfill its ambition of emerging as an economic and geopolitical superpower?

A search reveals many interesting topics to be dwelt by interesting and famous personalities.  Here are a few of them : 

The Making of an Asian Century - Henry Kissinger, Former Secretary of State of the United States of America and Nobel Laureate

Can You Be a Superstar Without Being an Actor?  - Fashion icon and  actor Kangana Ranaut

Budget 2012 Report Card : Gainers & Losers – Adi Godrej, Chairman Godrej Group

Changing the Game – Young Leader Insight - Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh

Game for Gold – Olympic Send Off - What Does it Take to Win a Gold Medal?  -  Sandeep Singh, Captain of Indian Hockey Team

Game for Gold – Olympic Send Off : What Does it Take to Win a Gold Medal?  - Vikas Krishnan, Boxer, Gold medalist at 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou

So, Secularism means different things to different people –  there is another speaker Namal Rajapaksa, eldest son  of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. His paternal grandfather and numerous uncles and aunts have been elected Members of Parliament in Sri Lanka from the family bastion of Hambantota.  He is currently a MP from Hambantota and is to speak on – South Asia Brainstorm “Is dynasty a Burden or Boon’ – a topic which augurs well for many State and Central politicians.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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