India/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

For the most part, intercultural dialogue has been understood externally in terms of cultural co-operation with other countries, and internally in the articulation of the need to protect India’s cultural diversity. Both these aspects have been dealt with in the earlier sections of the report. Sections 3.4.1, 3.4.2, 3.4.3 discuss the diplomatic relations with other countries. Sections 2.2 and 2.3 address the question of the protection of diverse language and religious groups within India. 

Intercultural dialogue has occasionally been directly addressed, as for example in the conference held by India’s National Knowledge Commission along with the European Commission in December 2008 on ‘Multilingualism and Intercultural Dialogue in Globalisation’, in the context of the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The aim of this conference was to underline the vital contribution of multilingualism to the development of genuine intercultural dialogue. India was identified as a strategic partner in this framework, in view of its specific situation in relation to multilingualism. This conference was the first EU-India platform for discussion and high-level exchange between scholars and intellectuals on the issue of multilingualism: and typically addressed its implications for business, politics, identity, intercultural dialogue and education.[1]

ICCR, as mentioned, has been a central nodal agency that has facilitated trans-national student exchanges. Apart from governmental support, civil society groups such as Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) has conducted people exchange programmes between the two countries that has particularly emphasised students and youth. The initiative towards formation of PIPFPD was taken in late 1993 and the first joint declaration was announced on 4 September 1994 in Lahore, Pakistan. The objective of this initiative is to facilitate dialogue between the common people in both the countries, promote peace and strengthen democracy in the sub-continent. 

Inter Cultural Dialogue and Exchange (ICDE), India, a non-profit registered society, is a multi-faith, multi-cultural and secular organisation headquartered in Bangalore. ICDE India networks with similar and like-minded organisations, not only in India but also around the globe. It offers young people the possibility to spend one-year abroad, participating in a programme designed to facilitate an exchange among nations as a means to promote peace, inter-cultural understanding, and cross-cultural learning. This is done through direct personal experiences and international volunteer work through a network of national committees, co-workers, host families, community development projects and friends.[2]

ICDE India is a member organisation of the International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE), an international non-profit youth exchange organisation promoting youth mobility, intercultural learning and international voluntary service. ICYE organises long and short-term exchanges combining home stays with voluntary service in a variety of community service projects in more than 34 countries around the world.

India, represented by both government and NGOs, participated in the discussion organised by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) on how intercultural dialogue can boost development the world over. Over 2,500 participants including heads of state, foreign affairs ministers, NGOs, civil society representatives, media, academia and the corporate sector were part of the debate held in Doha in 2011. UNAOC, created in 2005, is an initiative to improve the quality of dialogue between nations and people of cultures and religions.


Chapter published: 22-04-2014