A Sri Lankan at the World Economic Forum on India


The World Economic Forum on India was held in Gurgaon, the National Capital Region from November 6 to 8. The meeting convened under the theme "From Deliberation to Transformation" created an ideal platform to dialogue and debate on core areas that are crucial for India to restore growth such as means of redressing the risks India faces, recognizing and developing its human capital and fulfilling India’s future promise. Deliberations which lasted for two days involved about 600 participants from 40 countries around the world.

Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, the Executive Director of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS) participated as a panelist in two sessions; "Spurring the Growth of South Asia’s Social Economy" and "A Vision for India". Among the participants there were several imminent personalities such as Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister, Imran Khan, the former Pakistani Cricket captain and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Indian Planning Commission.

The session on "Spurring the Growth of South Asia’s Social Economy" comprised of five panelists; Adi B. Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group, Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson of the Arghyam Foundation in India, Kasim M. Kasuri, an educationist from Pakistan, Imran Khan, the former Pakistani Cricket Captain and the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Asanga Abeyagoonasekera. When other respondent were of the view that philanthropy, NGOs and voluntary service emerge to fill gaps in the services delivered by governments and markets, Mr. Abeyagoonasekera drawing an example from Sri Lanka pointed out how a sync of philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, government and private sector helped in overcoming the problems created by the Tsunami in 2004. He also added that empowering the bottom of the social pyramid, improving educational institutions, strengthening corporate social responsibility, improving governance processes and having the courage to engage all these components in eradicating poverty are important in achieving growth on a large scale.

The second session in which Mr. Abeyagoonasekera took part in, "A Vision for India" in the course of its discussion recognized a number of points. It was brought into light that there are many challenges in capitalizing the potential of the youth bulge in the Indian society.  One way to overcome this challenge and create a better future for the youth in India would be through increased investments in basic services like healthcare and education. Mr. Abeyagoonasekera stated that India needs to play a much better regional leadership role and the small nations in South Asia wants India to be a great success. It would be important for India to be attentive to the issues in other countries. In addition, Mr. Abeyagoonasekera underscored the importance in getting the basics correct by changing the mindset and by institutionalizing the changes in the mindset.  He also emphasized the need to create actual integration in the South Asian region. One way to meet this end is loosening visa regimes. He suggested that India could be more flexible in giving Visa to people from Pakistan.

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