The recent three-day Australia-India Institute’s conference, The Argumentative Indian, which focused on the key economic, social, political and cultural issues confronting India as it emerges as a global power, saw speakers from around the world.
The title of the conference – which was AII’s third — came from Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s book of the same name, which discusses India’s history and identity. Which was the reason Amartya Sen opened the conference with a speech recorded at Harvard University, outlining the importance of the strong argumentative tradition in India, an idea that was echoed in Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis’ annual AII Oration.
The conference, which saw over 700 registrations, provoked debates between Australian and Indian delegates, and a total of nearly 60 speakers and chairs. Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Senator Chris Evans addressed the conference on the importance of engagement with Asia, and the Federal Member for Goldstein Mr Andrew Robb spoke about Australia and India’s political systems.
Activist and retired police chief (India’s first police officer) Dr Kiran Bedi spoke about her fight against corruption in India. “India is going through a huge exposé of corruption in government as well as the private sector,” Dr Bedi said, as she recounted a story of how in her time in service everyone was equal and she even gave the Prime Minister a parking ticket.
Governor of West Bengal and former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, M.K. Narayanan, who was also present, said that the conference was important as Australia-India relations had reached a ‘defining moment’.
Former governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi – the grandson of Mahata Gandhi — closed the conference with an inspiring speech.