O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) and Center for Ethics, Spirituality and Sustainability organized the two-day 15th International Conference on Alternative Perspectives and Global Concerns titled 'Spirituality, Mysticism and Politics in the Age of Globality' on 23rd-24th January, 2018.
The conference was held under the aegis of Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences (JIBS) of JGU.
The inaugural session saw participation of an august panel of speakers including Ms. Mariela Cruz, Ambassador of Costa Rica to India; Professor Mahmoud Masaeli, President, Alternative Perspective and Global Concern; Swami Agnivesh, Swami Om Poorna Swatantra and Dr. Madnesh Kumar Mishra, Joint Secretary in the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance.
Welcoming the participants, the Founding Vice-Chancellor of JGU, Professor (Dr.) C Raj Kumar spoke about the idea of spirituality in the emerging global environment. He said, "It is crucial to deliberate on spirituality at this hour, which has been a contentious issue for long. The phenomenon of globality promises new spiritual outlooks and possibilities in respect to culture, identity and politics. These are very significant pointers at a time when we are imparting global education to our students. The young minds that come to JGU belong to different countries. We are proud of this diversity which is seen in the case of faculty and students from 20 different countries."
The two-day long session saw participants deliberating on diverse thoughts and perceptions on spiritualism and their effect on religion and politics.
Dr. Sanjeev P Sahni, Principal Director, JIBS, mentioned that one should explore ways to follow spiritualism and not go by religion as a guiding force. He elaborated, "We need to have alternative perspective to it. Spirituality is distinct from religion. World Health Organization (WHO) has defined the concept of health, which includes not only physical, cultural, psychosocial and economic aspects, but also spiritual side. It is not simply absence of illness."
Renowned social activist, Swami Agnivesh spoke about the essence of spirituality which is independent of religion. He said, "Linking spiritualism with religion remains a concern for all of us. This is the crisis we are facing. Let's not confuse religion with spirituality. We can follow spiritualism without following religion."
Elaborating further, he said, "In a country like India where poverty is a major concern, it is spirituality that leads us to ask the basic question as to why a poor person does not have enough to eat? In Human Development Index, India is far behind. We should come up with a spiritual manifesto which can be a vision document for the entire nation."
"Time has come to give a constructive future to our coming generations. And the sooner we adequately imbibe spiritualism in politics, the better it would be for our future," he added.
Ms. Mariela Cruz, Ambassador of Costa Rica to India, also spoke on this occasion. She said, "Spiritualism for me is an activism. Politics and systems are failing. If we are to empower and ignite young generation, it is spirituality that needs to be nurtured."
Costa Rica is a very vibrant and spiritually-rich country with a thriving local and indigenous culture in harmony with ecology.
Dr. Madnesh Kumar Mishra, Joint Secretary in the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance remarked, "The global chaos is due to three things - God, money and greed, and these are all connected. Now, ethical deficit is more than the physical deficit. There is chaos inside which gets translated outside. If you are peaceful from inside, you can remain at peace even outside."
Professor (Dr.) Mahmoud Masaeli, President, Alternative Perspective and Global Concern, said: "Politics has become an art of deal-making and the result has been tragic. India has been able to reconcile various religions peacefully and has maintained non-violence."
Swami Om Poorna Swatantra, Founder, Jaivic, Organic Lifestyle, said that one cannot think of transforming the world without practicing spiritualism. "Long back in ancient times, our Indian rishis, the spiritual masters, had given the formula for human organization as Vashudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the world is our family and the earth is our home. This is the organic structure of life and the world; but to restore it, we still have to go a long way. Now, this is an age of to-be or not-to-be. We energize ourselves when we connect ourselves to the universe by practicing spiritualism," Swami Om Poorna Swatantra added.
Speakers at the conference were unanimous that alternative perspective like spiritualism has to be integrated with mysticism and politics. They felt that in this fast progressing age, where mobile and Internet have taken over thought processes of people, especially the youngsters, interactions are no more confined to teachers, families and friends.
They were of the view that a concerted effort has to be made to ensure that successive generations are mindful of the positivity of spiritualism and its impact on our day-to-day lives.