The inaugural edition of the Ideas for India conference ended on Friday after three days of rich public policy debates. The three-day event, from May 18-20, was held to celebrate India’s 75th anniversary of independence, with speakers giving their vision of where they see India in the next 25 years. .
On the first day, an educational delegation traveled to Birmingham, organized by Birmingham City University. Day 2 included a policy forum on closer UK-India relations, the Commonwealth Education Conference and an awards night in Parliament. The third day featured the main plenary sessions including discussions on India’s leadership in the fight against climate change, tackling misinformation, unemployment, skills development, women’s participation in the labor force -work and the building of Indian institutions.
The event marked the culmination of three years of thought leadership by Bridge India, a progressive non-profit think tank dedicated to public policy discourse. Registered as a charity in June 2019, it has engaged in high-level conversations with ministers, CEOs and ambassadors from more than a dozen countries, including countries as diverse as India, India, Afghanistan, Israel, Uganda and Mauritius. In doing so, it is the leading Indian diaspora-led think tank in Europe.
The “story of India” abroad is often presented from a narrow perspective, whether it focuses solely on business and the economy, society or the political landscape. Given its diversity, everything about India, and its polar opposite, is true in unison. The Ideas for India conference sought to highlight and celebrate this nuance, to help India-watchers better understand India.
It saw the attendance of over 500 participants over the three days, including 50 international delegates from India, Bangladesh, Malta, Singapore and the United States. In a true celebration of India’s breadth, MPs, Members of the Legislative Assembly and other policy makers from seven political parties, across nine Indian states, attended the event.
The inaugural edition was an incredible success, even India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted a video clip of the event. Sessions of Ideas for India were aired on prime time newscasts in India and several stories were ranked among the top ten trending stories of the day.
Lord Tariq Ahmad, Minister of State at FCDO, said“I am grateful to the Bridge India team for organizing this important conference. This is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the deep friendship between our two countries, but also to look to the future. It is this partnership of trust that also extends to commerce. We already have a solid track history on this. Just look at Reliance Industries’ recent investment in the UK battery industry.
Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, said, “It was an honor to speak at the Bridge India conference. I first visited India many years ago and discovered such an amazing and diverse country. Members of the Indian diaspora strengthen our economy, our culture and our society, but are also at the heart of our communities. »
Rahul Gandhi, Member of Parliament for Kerala, was the keynote speaker on day three. He said, “Democracy in India is a global public good. We are the only ones who have managed democracy on our unprecedented scale. [I] had an enriching exchange on a wide range of topics at the Ideas For India conference in London.
Lord John Browne, Chairman of BeyondNetZero, was the keynote speaker at the dinner celebrating 75 years of Indian independence. On the evening’s theme of sustainability and climate change, he referenced a seminal speech he gave at Stanford University exactly 25 years ago, where he explained how oil companies needed to turn towards technologies to promote climate action.
Ashwin Kumaraswamy, administrator, said: “India’s national identity has been built on unity in diversity, and it has long celebrated the community of major differences among its people. It offers many truths, each of which gives form and substance to the idea of India. We are proud that at our inaugural conference we were able to engage actors from politics, technology, business, academia and civil society for three days. We were able to present a conversation about India that was progressive, inclusive and diverse in the ideas discussed. »
Other notable participants included Dr Ashwath Narayan (Minister of Higher Education, IT, BT, Skills Development and Livelihoods, Karnataka), Tejashwi Yadav (Head, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bihar), Sitaram Yechury (Secretary General, CPI-M), Salman Khurshid (former Minister of External Affairs, India), Mahua Moitra (Member of Parliament, West Bengal) and Pradyot Manika (Chairman, TIPRA, Tripura).