In an article published on December 1, the first day of India’s G20 presidency, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi asked, “Can we catalyse a fundamental mindset shift, to benefit humanity as a whole?” and then called on the world to “join together to make India’s G20 presidency a presidency of healing, harmony and hope”.
This, many argue, will be easier said than done. The world has just emerged from the 27th round of the Conference of Parties in Egypt, and at the inauguration of the global climate conference, the United Nations secretary-general António Guterres reminded the world, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”
One of the post-COP27 analyses I read was written by former foreign secretary Shyam Saran in the Indian Express. He wrote, “Having been through such tortuous negotiations in the past I see the focus on the loss and damage issue as a clever ploy by developed countries to use up all the oxygen at the summit and deflect attention from the really critical issues, including the repeated failure of the developed countries to own up their historical responsibility for climate change, their refusal to make deep cuts in their own emissions and deliver on commitments for providing adequate finance and technology to enable developing countries to undertake climate action.”
The climate crisis is a problem caused by our failure to realise the oneness of our globe.
I would, however, like to draw your attention to an article written by Ram Madhav on the G20 Religion Forum, or R20, which ensures that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions rather than problems in the world.
Madhav gives me hope that there might be a change in the offing. “Global issues like health, economy, climate and technology, besides issues like war, hatred and disharmony have, for a long time, been considered the concern of the political leadership. That religious and cultural leaders too can play a complementary role has not been fully appreciated,” he writes. “It is in this context that the Indonesian government’s initiative to bring religious and cultural leaderships into active discourse acquires significance. The two organisations taking the lead in this endeavour are — the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) of Indonesia and the Muslim World League (MWL) of Saudi Arabia”.
For religious leaders to play an influential role in making us realise we are all part of one great unity, they must stand together and differ because their beliefs are different. For example, I recently reread the Christian scholar Ninian Smart’s book World Religions: A Dialogue. He wrote a dialogue between a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, and a Buddhist. In the end, the Christian says to the Hindu: “You have half persuaded me to look upon doctrines in a more Hindu way. But I give notice that however Hindu I may be, I shall remain a Hindu Christian.” That accommodation with other faiths could be the stand all religious leaders need to take to help PM Modi’s presidency be one of “healing, harmony and hope”.
The views expressed are personal
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