Saturday, February 13, 2016
Dialogue on Just Governance 2016, Asia Plateau, Panchgani, India.

Report from Day one, Friday, 12 February


Nationally and globally we confront unprecedented challenges – the threat of runaway climate change, the largest number of refugees since the Second World War, widespread landlessness and economic inequalities, the growth of movements using extreme violence to achieve their aims.

Governments cannot cope on their own. We need a whole new level of citizen responsibility. Countries cannot cope on their own. We need a whole new level of global responsibility. Many of us want to take responsibility, but we don’t know how.

This dialogue will examine how we can each play our part in creating a quality of just society adequate to meet the challenges we face. It will focus on the human attitudes which are at the root of these challenges – apathy, greed, blame, fear of taking responsibility.

We will hear people from many countries who are finding new attitudes, and are overcoming corruption, transforming conflict and pioneering sustainable living. The topics for dialogue will include:

  • How do we answer the addiction of greed, a crucial cause of corruption and inequality?
  • How can we offer those attracted to violence more effective ways to answer injustice?
  • How do we resist policies of exclusion towards refugees and the landless, and engender a readiness to share?
  • How can good governance impact the environmental issues of our times?
  • Can resources be a community builder rather than the cause for the next war?

Summary of Day 1, Friday, 12 February

Rajmohan Gandhi, Niketu Iralu, R D Mathur, & Dr.Ravindra Rao

The Dialogue on Just Governance 2016 assembled almost 150 participants from over 25 countries. As well as the general program there were ‘dialogues within the Dialogue’ for the delegations from Sri Lanka and Nagaland.

The inauguration ceremony began with Dialogue organizers Archana Rao and Siddharth Singh welcoming expectant guests to the Dialogue. Dr Ravindra Rao, Asia Plateau’s resident director, gave a short welcome highlighting delegates from Sri Lanka, Nagaland (India), South Sudan and Mali. Following this, R D Mathur, the first director at Asia Plateau, explained the venue’s history stating that ‘some of us dreamed and hoped that the soil of India would be able to create something where people could come open their hearts and souls to seek deeper answers.’ Transitioning to a traditional candle lighting ceremony, three wicks were lit representing the wisdom of the indigenous peoples,  healing where there has been pain, and the hope of fruitful outcomes from the Dialogue.

Michael Møller, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva had sent a video message to the Dialogue which he had hoped, but was unable, to attend. He referred to the cooperation with IofC in various areas. He warned against trends and a situation where ‘the solidarity of the international community is under strain… The failure of our leaders and institutions to adequately face these challenges is very worrying… A holistic approach to just governance is needed… A number of countries in Asia, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka serve as examples that progress is possible, but the path is still a long one, and I am glad that we can count on you and your joint efforts to promote just governance.’

Honorable Abdon AgawThe Honorable Abdon Agaw, Secretary General to the Government of South Sudan, then expanded upon the idea that good governance does not always mean democracy. ‘Democracy cannot be made to appear like it is the solution to all problems,’ referring to the fact that there is more to it, specifically, ‘in the context of culture’.





Niankoro Yeah SamakeHis Excellency Niankoro Yeah Samake, Mali Ambassador to India explained how he had brought about effective community change with participatory governance, transparency and accountability as mayor of his hometown. ‘To serve is to lead,’ he summed up.




Ruchi BhimaniIndian filmmaker Ruchi Bhimani (known for several projects, in particular the award winning documentary The Gulabi Gang) shared her journey of personal change through her encounter with last year’s Dialogue on Just Governance 2015, affirming her commitment to produce socially relevant films.





Venerable Bengala Upatissa TheroThe final speaker was the Venerable Banagala Upatissa Thero, President of Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka and Chief Sri Lankan Monk in Japan. He began by reading a personal message from Sri Lanka’s President, acknowledging that this dialogue is in tune with what Sri Lanka needs today. In Thero’s personal address he left the participants with a sense of expectancy of the Dialogue when he earnestly expressed that ‘we should not divide humanity on the basis of caste, religion, or race. Hatred never ceases by hatred, hatred ceases by love.’


Delegates for the Dialogue




Delegates from around the world are meeting at Asia Plateau for Dialogue on Just Governance, an international Dialogue hosted by Initiatives of Change-India, focused on building trust across the world’s divides.


An Evening of Soulful Music

In the evening the participants were treated to a wonderful experience by the artists, Bindhumalini Narayanswamy and Vedanth Bharadwaj. They performed many songs based on the texts of Kabir a great mystic and poet with universal spiritual significance.






Start with your ‘Selfie’

Masaki Yamada, Asia Plateau intern from Japan, snaps a selfie with Professor Rajmohan Gandhi and His Excellency Ambassador Samake from Mali





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