Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurates International Conference Purbasa: East meets East


Bhubaneswar: Following the successful organisation of its inaugural Conference on India-ASEAN [email protected] in December 2017, in New Delhi, the Kalinga International Foundation (KIF) organized its second major international conference in eastern India’s historic city of Bhubaneswar from 16-18, March 2018.

Kalinga International Foundation is an independent, non-partisan think tank that seeks to develop new and robust partnerships between India and the countries of the region.

Inaugurating the international conference Hon’ble Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said it is a great pleasure for me to be present in today’s event. There are two reasons for this. One, that this event is being held in my home state of Odisha. Indeed, I can say with pride that this conference is a first of its kind in the State where top dignitaries and experts from our neighbouring countries and the wider Indo-Pacific region have gathered to deliberate on issues of mutual interest to us. Secondly, initiatives such as the one today will, hopefully, lead to an enhanced dialogue between our peoples and cultures—a dialogue that is yet to achieve its best potential.

Coming from the State of Odisha, we have grown up with stories of people from across the ocean with whom our ancestors traded—from textiles to spices to betel nuts. Our mythologies, languages, religions and architecture have seeped into each other in ways that have not yet been fully understood, or explored. For instance, the word for ‘mother’ in Bahasa Indonesian is ‘bu’, which is ‘bou’ in Odia for us, added Union Minister.

Chairman, Kalinga International Foundation Amb Lalit Mansingh said, “The Kalinga International Foundation believes that the East and the North East should be seen as a homogeneous cultural and economic region of India, which is playing a crucial role in the India’s Act East Policy. KIF is pleased that now, the North East and Eastern region of India will be in dialogue with the friendly neighbours on India’s east – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, with ASEAN partners and beyond with Australia and Japan.”

Adding to this he said that, the title of the dialogue is aptly named PURBASA, meaning the rise of the East, the hopes from the East, and, the message from the East. The sixteen countries represented at the PURBASA Conference are indeed the Sunrise States of the Indo-Pacific, which come to life when the rest of the world is still asleep.

Hon Minister of Buddha Sasana; Sustainable Development and Wildlife of Sri Lanka, Mr Gamini Jayawickrama Perera; Hon Minister for Industry and Tourism of Assam, Shri Chandra Mohan Patowary and Ambassadors of Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, High Commissioners of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and the Economic Minister from Japan were also present during the inaugural event of the three day long international conference.

On this occasion, the Kalinga Saraswati Samman was conferred to noted scholars: Prof V Suryanarayan for his book together in struggle: India and Indonesia, 1945-1949 and Shri Sudip Sen for his book the pride and glory of Bali Yatra.

The Theme of the Bhubaneswar Conference is Purbasa: East meets East: Synergising the North-East and Eastern India with the Indo-Pacific. This conference brings together, for the first time, the eastern and northeastern region of India with their proximate neighbours- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and beyond, with the ASEAN nations and the wider Indo-Pacific region. The states located in India’s north-east – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and in the east- Bihar, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and in the east- Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar in the south-east, have strong common ties of history, culture, language and customs and traditions from early times. Both have a rich heritage of links with Southeast Asia and East Asia — one via the land route and the other through the maritime link.

Sailors, merchants, scholars and artisans from this region travelled overseas and established linkages with the people of South East Asia dating back to the 4th Century BCE. The pioneers were the Sadhavas, the sailor-merchants of Kalinga, a powerful empire straddling the eastern sea coast of India. It would be worthwhile to study the role played by economic ties in the development of cultural relations. The Sadhavas acted as messengers of peace and couriers of culture between eastern India and the Indo-Pacific region. Kalinga has, therefore, been used as a metaphor for the historic ties that bind this wider region together.

The Inauguration was concluded with Purbasa Cultural Programme presented by Padma

Shri (Ms) ArunaMohanty, Director, Orissa Dance Academy.

The conference is organised around eight sessions on the following themes: Economic Co-operation, Maritime Connectivity and Security in the Indo-Pacific, Connecting Women, Youth and Civil Society, Energy Co-operation, Regional Connectivity, Bilaterals: India’s Most Favoured Nations, Tourism, Culture; Buddhism, Summation and Looking Ahead.These themes have their origin in the new charter of East-East cooperation mandated by the Indo-ASEAN Commemorative Summit held in New on 25 January 2018.

A major highlight of the conference would be the Session on Bilaterals with speeches by Ambassadors respectively of Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines and Myanmar; Minister Economic of the Embassy of Japan.

Chief Guest of Valedictory Ceremony is HE Dr S C Jamir, Hon Governor of Odisha. Guest of Honour is Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Hon Minister, Petroleum and Natural Gas; Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Prof Ajarn Sulak Sivaraksha of Thailand, Dr Bhartruhari Mahtab, Member of Parliament are slated to address the conference.

From Odisha’s powerful Kalinga Empire to the Act East policy today, India’s vision has continually expanded. It now extends beyond ASEAN to the larger Indo-Pacific region, which consolidates the Indian Ocean Region and the Western Pacific Region into a singular regional construct. It provides a new significance to Odisha’s annual festival of Balijatra or Voyage to Bali.The KIF offers the Indian and foreign delegates a unique opportunity to see at first hand some of Odisha’s cultural heritage by organising a Cultural Heritage tour after the conference.