‘India very important for world religions’ conference’

Astana, Kazakhstan - India is a very important player in the two-day global conference of faiths and civilisations that opened in this Kazakh capital Wednesday, a top diplomat says.

“India is a very important country (for the meet). In fact, India is a country that is even more multi-faceted (than the event’s hosts),” Doulat Kuanyshev, ambassador-at-large in the Kazakhstan foreign ministry, said of the third Congress of World and Traditional Religions that Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev inaugurated.

Noting that both Hindus and Muslims were representing India at the Congress, he said: “They (the two communities bring specific inputs to the discussions.”

In this context, he singled out the contribution of Kala Dhananjay Acharya, the director of the Somaiya Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham, who is both a delegate at the congress and a member of its permanent secretariat.

“I am fascinated by Acharya’s work with the secretariat. She has been able to bring both a theoretical and scientific language into its work. I find her most rationalistic,” Kuanyshev added.

India is represented at the meet by 17 delegates. Five each are representatives of Hindus, Muslims and Zoroastrianism, while three from the Swaminarayan sect are special invitees.

Academics, clerics and leaders from 60 nations, including India, have gathered for the two-day meet to deliberate on the prospects of peaceful coexistence among the world’s religions amid growing extremism and violence.

Being held at a unique pyramid-shaped building here, the conference is a bold reminder to the world that people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds can and should live together in peace, its organisers say.

The nine-storey monument, Palace of Peace and Concord, rising more than 200 feet high has been built specially for the meeting of world religions.

At the end of the inaugural congress in 2003, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Hindu and Tao leaders adopted a declaration stating that “extremism, terrorism and other forms of violence in the name of religion… are threats to human life and should be rejected”. The second Congress was held in 2007.