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From Diplomacy to Peace‐building in South Asia through Music



he's there with us just getting some technical issues so we would start by showing this brief film it's about three minutes in duration just as an introduction to what I'm going to speak about the project salvation you know the first concept of being Salvation Symphony Orchestra is what sheera the first concept of a Salvation Symphony Orchestra is what we call a little nap that lights the darkness when you are walking in the dark it shines the light on your path and that is essentially what we're trying to do with this project this initiative in cultural diplomacy which we call the South Asian Symphony Orchestra it was sometime in July last year that we disturbed his salvation Symphony foundation as a non-profit trust in Bangalore there's no such thing as right or wrong musical is infesting has moist and wet Eastern music has to be just good and it has to be fit I'm constantly surprised that is actually a Animoto a la francaise and i'm from cancer I believe you are I'm 15 years old when I most like dirty dirty I can incentivize of music and this is for me you can play a lot of instrument what do you want to play I see it I play real hard because I like that my name is Nina and I'm playing cello I'm for seniors or and this is the fifth year I'm fighting I'm learning music music is life will you know about it you can feel it if you believe you can be very good and music and you think like all of the world a desert every person has to have their music in their heart very happy to be a part of it I think is very important not just the Indian subcontinent of us to be able to show to the world a we can build these political prisioners as you can see we come to a little story directions of music please share and enjoy we haven't winning the softly this big dungeon [Applause] well I hope you enjoyed that short presentation this was a concert at the National Center for Performing Arts in Mumbai on April 26 this year we call it chill dog as you know and it was the launch event for the South Asian Symphony Orchestra so I'm going to trace in the brief time that we have for this session my journey from diplomacy to orchestras it's not such a long journey one shouldn't assume that it was a long journey because what is diplomacy essentially it's the art of communication of bridging divides of connecting diverse sets of people together diverse sets of people and nations mediating conflict and we have a lot of that in our region building relationships and of course last but not least perhaps the most important aspect of all preventing war and conflict that is essentially what diplomacy sets up to do and that is why people like us choose a profession like diplomacy mind you diplomacy works very much in concert with the security elements of a government apparatus obviously when you are in the foreign ministry you work very closely with friends ministry mostly with their Home Ministry of the Interior in some countries so there is a lot of interconnection with other workings of government which often concern but the task of the diplomat is essentially to see how we can prevent confrontation how we can build confidence among opposing sides and to see how we can build a future of common progress and prosper as many diplomats like to say we prefer winning winning solutions where both sides win successful diplomacy therefore solidifies peace and failed diplomacy of course precedes war as we now I was a diplomat by profession for almost four decades my life an interesting four decades spent at the ringside of history as it were working at transforming relationships with some of our neighbors and witness of course to the slow and glacial paralytic phase of relations with other neighbors and I don't have to mention names here no prizes for guessing we've had difficult relationships particularly with our Western neighbor what country at one point and everything that has resulted from that we are still dealing with the legacies division so in the time that was in diplomacy and as a diplomat I affirm that you learnt to project your country's point of view to the best extent possible to secure its interests to look after our citizens abroad to operate in different spheres and whether they concern as I said security Commerce political and economic analysis and cultural projection and outreach so that's also a very important part of diplomacy just as political analysis or summitry you see these summits that go on quite frequently when suppose abroad but there's a whole army of people working under that surface trying to build bridges and cultural protection is also now during my time my career I was also witness to the advent of a revolution in communication with the rise of the Internet as you all know and the empowerment that this is most importantly empowerment of ordinary citizens as they've gained access to social media and the dismantling of traditional bastions of information control and dissemination as more and more individuals – expressing their beliefs through Instagram Facebook Twitter so the ivory towers really came tumbling down so no more can a bureaucrat or a diplomat or the civil servant servant feel secure about the fact that they are comfortably positioned in their offices away from the madding crowd that doesn't simply exist anymore it doesn't operate on those wavelengths anymore so no more ivory towers you really have to practice as somebody said gumboots diplomacy you have to walk in the slush you have to feel the ground beneath you you can't be removed so all this I did sense through these revolutionary changes around me I travel the world and I saw this happening before my very eyes somebody said today on The Naked diplomat you don't have any protection you are subject to the inquiries signals that you've received from the audience you can see that diplomacy is conducted in an amphitheater today and we are all gladiators we're really thrown as it were into the arena and we have to fight and survive ensure that our interests but when I looked at the situation in our region I referred to it in me and the outset in South Asia it had remained more or less the same of course we have our developmental challenges in the region we have as I said legacies of history we have after was a partition deal where we have territorial disputes we have the lack of connectivity the need for infrastructure to improve the absence of people-to-people communication how easy is it for us to communicate with our neighbors across borders all that was changing but changing in a very critical piece and when I left the Foreign Service and when I retired and I had more time to myself to reflect on these realities as it were I felt myself that while we in India were developing by leaps and bounds many of our neighbors in the subcontinent but we set with various sets of words whether it was religious radicalism whether it was civil war whether it was stagnation of growth whether of course you know you see it when you deal with many of our neighboring countries there is a complex set of behavior patterns to be Indian because we are the biggest country in the region then with quickness comes a lot of baggage and I think our neighbors tend to have certain attitudes about India's role down in the region we are the largest country in the region so we have a responsibility to building more bridges with overcoming some of these prejudices and stereotypes and they were clear device obviously to be bridged in terms of communication understanding people-to-people contact and most importantly mutual empathy was in short supply mind you we are a shared civilization of cultural ethnic space in many ways South Asia you know my friend the assassinated foreign minister of Sri Lanka Lakshmi mother used to often say the South Asia is an integer it's really meant to be more integrated and look what you see with Southeast Asia from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations when you compare what ASEAN has achieved over the last 50 to 60 years and what Sark has been able to bring in terms of achievement the South Asian Association of regional cooperation and afraid the balance sheet doesn't look very good for us so these were things that I trouble me it troubled me they tended to haunt me they kind of played the function and with all these degrees of separation that I found existed in South Asia and at the same time you have an information based global order it seemed to me that violence were not open enough to new ideas of cooperation and coexistence and that insularity was more often the rule than the exception and ignorance and prejudice persisted despite the fact as I said that we , civilizational and geographical space we witnessed like witnessing planet changed a sharp depletion of natural resources with the water crisis that Sur velocities are facing we're impacted by similar challenges of poverty rising aspirations and expectations of populations particularly the youth bulge in the region being young demographics but restlessness and I said what was required here apart from the paramount needs the rapid and inclusive economic development was also the development of a globalized vision that stressed a humanitarian agenda for the region built on closer people-to-people ties and citizen-driven cultural diplomacy I stand before you really as a citizen I have no longer serving ambassador you know I'm just just an ordinary citizen and I thought that given the experience that I've acquired when in government the privilege and the exposure that I had to so many such situations I should try and define a goal which was to build more connections more bridges to bridge divisions as I'd say to transform outlooks and inspire South Asia to think together to harmonize to empathize and to shed suspicions of the other the enemy the neighbor of the enemy the neighbor and there was a need to build mutual confidence and build an image of South Asia for the rest of the world that could set a trend for cooperation like we see regions as I mentioned Southeast Asian mutants of Germany in France hundred years ago or even 70 years ago look where they are unity community is facing many challenges so I wanted to see how as a citizen I could at least take one small step to make South Asia that's how the orchestra project so about a year ago what we did my husband and I was to set up a trust a not-for-profit trust in Bangalore called the South Asian symphony foundation with the goal being to set up an ewok astre and orchestra musicians really from from the region from the 8 countries of the region of South Asia and beyond that it's not a and they say gamed over yet we have so many people of South Asian origin who live in different parts of the world you go beyond to Southeast Asia look at Singapore Malaysia Fiji I want to look at the Caribbean you look at the United States Canada Europe you have people of South Asian origin so my aim was to look not only at these eight countries but beyond to the people of South Asian origin who live further we are so wide in the circle of contact so you may ask what role does an orchestra perform in such a situation I think to myself it's microcosm that reflects a macro bust microcosm that reflects a microcosm it tells you about the diversity that makes our world it tells you about all the differences that can still counterbalance each other without colliding and without cancelling each other out so orchestras what they do is to demand discipline they entail listening to each other and something I think many of us have forgotten in our age of the art of listening to each other and they create harmony an orchestra function if it doesn't create harmony so I felt it many ways it becomes an example that we can we can adopt learn from when it comes to the areas of life utopia as it may seem but it's a practical utopia as Daniel about a boy once said and I always say in any map of the world it has to be a place called utopia and that's really the story of we we survive on hope as well so the final output of the sound that you hear in the orchestra is saw the movie it's made from the contribution of individual orchestra members we follow their cues and they make their musical instruments speak they articulate an expression that reflects nuance it's very subtle it's not just in your face it's a subtle no words that they are able to express and they interpret things very accurately they read the lines before weaving between the lines very often we read between the lines before we've agreed so I think that is something is useful so the image of a cell a symphony orchestra as it were is new to many salvations the older members of the audience may remember the days when we have little bands and music groups that played in band stands across in many small towns you find a band step today you're gonna find in musical event happening there but we did have these little orchestras and bands of the old days but today with digitization comics that seems to have become a thing of the past our play music for instance is usually digitally produced but you look back at the old movie songs of the 50s the 60s 70s and even 80s there were orchestras they were always present by that recording in studios for the composers made these songs so our orchestras have faded into oblivion and I believe with it the culture of collaboration you know disciplining oneself to work in a community and it's not with talent does not exist in our region I have discovered over the last year there's an enormous enormous reserve of talent people who are very very qualified to play many of these musical instruments so understand music but for waiting for an opportunity to come together and express themselves the challenge was to locate the various countries kids some of them grew up in refugee camps their authors their parents they are the Afghan National Institute of music learning both of karma that music is very type to get this kind of music in the study classical music has many followers in Afghanistan but Afghanistan at one stage was also a country that was looking to the rest of the world before the Taliban appeared on the scene and before the Soviet invasion has changed at all there were people in Afghanistan were also looking at western music and were aware of and the of God nationalists you distract bring all these things together I don't like to use the word fusion when it comes to music I think everything has its own identity and its own soul and we must respect that but we can see how we can bridge you know different schools of music that has a smaller group people there you know they're much more in a sense dispersed in terms of their talent but we did find some good violinist Putin we just found a single person who was a pianist and we didn't have a piano in the orchestra we didn't the repertoire to include so we requested him to play percussion which he did to the best of his ability he was very very collaborator and that was essentially what we wanted you know I play another computer expert skills visa and we need to play another short I just want to you to listen to the the sole Pakistani American you know anybody from Pakistan I don't know what they have people who I was but through the diaspora we were able to locate a double bass player in New York whose pakistani-american and thank you to hear his story because in many ways I think it epitomizes the story of our Orchestra then who was born and grew up in South India Kakinada the other Malaysia region of India which from what I understand is not that very highly populated area so my father grew up with a mixed group of people religiously speaking anyway I know his best friend routine for example so when partition happened my father's family didn't they say it was only after my father went to college in Europe that he was advised to go to Pakistan because there would be more opportunities he went and I know I'm sure it was happy with with the opportunities he had there as he was very successful as an academic and but I don't think he really realized for me what the consequences would be to go back to his home country ever not to be able to seize his tombstone passed away is Andy's friends so I found that to be very sad it's something that's haunted my family from time to time especially when we traveled through it across South Asia and so any ironic Athenians Pakistanis Bangladeshis we all been together because we recognized immediately how similar we are how culturally the foobie languages we speak are all so similar that you know we just get together and hang out so to my friends musicians also Indian Aaron to Pakistan so for us it's kind of strange to look and see all these differences in tensions that build up between people that are basically the same so I really hope that the South Asian system our history we were in this situation about showing our similarities and having us to work together and be together and recognizing really all Sally's in is Pakistani origin American living in New York and he came to Mumbai for performance of children he was there the sole person some connections father as he said from Kakinada went to Karachi and then landed and that is really the story of many salvation settling it's difficult to say exactly where we come from and what our origins are but we're sadly issues that tell you a little anecdote maybe trivia there are these DNA testing you know sites these days you can send a DNA sample to them and they come back to you so there is an American site and I was in Washington we said this sample and see what what the results are and I expected somebody an aberrant readout you're going to say that I you know my origins were from XYZ different places on earth you know what makes up what we are made up as Indians which obviously we are maybe the DNA site was not specialized enough who knows but the readout of the report when it came back was just one sentence he said 100% South Asians so that's the story for you we are 100% South Asian whatever we are and so the orchestra really precedes our actor we can switch this off so I will stop here so as you see we did the performance of Janaki in Bombay we brought together about 75 musicians travel region the vice president of there was the chief guest he's been a big cheerleader for this project and he wants us to do more concerts it's really a peace building confidence building bridge building effort that we have been booked on which in extreme pundit you know the system to volunteer who was also her own right a very accomplished woman diplomat first woman ambassador in the world to the Soviet Union and the United States she is to say that a sweat in peace rather than bleed I'm radical oh boy I'm a professor of economics know what you mentioned right in the beginning that France and Germany have had this animosity for so long but they came together for large economic benefits and you know the European Union happened so let me ask you the very obvious question didn't India and Pakistan see the latter economic benefits first are to be a success everywhere 360 degrees for the 20/20 vision I think everybody knows that we should be collaborating we should have between each other we should have which has become a complicating factor so there has to be a change of mind from Pakistan side also the people in the establishment the people who you know mindset attitude Israel and the whole museum without music I looked at the section in the museum for the freedom struggle of Pakistan so I assume that struggle Pakistan's very much the country and the focus was what aspects which perhaps we include but you don't so they talked about boys be conceptualized and people like member indeed how they define the idea of section of his papers his pictures and in that section there was a massive sub continent a huge traveling from ceiling to to floor and the veget across it was undivided Pakistan so there are mindsets like that I don't think we perhaps don't see much of that we have some extreme views but now just common denominator here is very closest common sense oriented we've had partition we have to accept the division on with our future so that's really the attitude that has yeah for money my associate I will very much Atlantic by the elephant speech so I believe probably in the dictum you is the swimming video path self-realization such a table and it has no political protocol yes if you through your conditional suddenly go a long way in between the camp that's my wish because like the Lord to me which is positive I drink a little God sends you remain in the region and please can be established but it may be very very small step but subtly in the years to come will go a long long way thank you tomorrow thank you for a nice particular speech my complete cooperative blocks start with axis so my question to you is whether the current diplomats at that development that degree of influencing in the world right now or has that glorious phase past and Clovis is serving as a role in a relevance and meaning in a 21st century world also because problems resist differences continue war threatens to intervene organizations break down there's enough work for diplomats to do and there's also the question of the country's profile and role in the region and as far as it is concerned with our five trillion dollar economy around the corner of the city huge market that we have such a large scientifically trained people and the fact that we are in vain pulsating successful democracy all that purchases are in each other and therefore it raises in his prestige and in gas position and we need to take strength that however much we may within the country have you know differences of competition now we are coming up now we are coming up with any man who was born and grew up in South India Kakinada the other edition of India which from what I understand is not very highly Muslim populated area so my father grew up with mixed people religiously speaking anyway I know his best friend routine so when partitioning up in my father's family didn't they say they were comfortable with a new people it was only after my father went to college of my vineyard that he was advised to go to Pakistan because there would be more opportunities and he went and I know I'm sure it was happy with that with the opportunities he had there it was very successful as an academic and but I don't think he really realized for me what the consequences would be of him not being able to go back to his home country ever not to be able to see his mother's tombstone passed away his family's friends so I found that to be very sad it's something that's haunting my family from time to time especially when we traveled through across South Asia and so any I'm not a good for any of our Indians Pakistanis Bangladeshis is we all get together because we recognize immediately how similar we are how culturally the foobie languages we speak are all so similar that you know we just get together and hang out so – my friends with musicians also Indian heritage of Pakistan so for us it's kind of strange to these differences intentionally build up between people that are basically the same so I really hope that Mossad agents in orchestrating ameliorate the situation by showing our similarities and having us work together Saudis it is a Pakistani origin American living in New York and he came to Mumbai for the performance of Kakinada went to Karachi and then landed and that is really the story of many salvations I think it's difficult to say exactly where we come from and what our origins are but where sadly issues that tell you a little anecdote may be trivia there are these DNA testing you know sites these days you could send a DNA sample to them when they come back to you so there is an American site and I was in Washington I said let me send off this sample and see what what the results are and I expected somebody an aberrant readout you're going to say that I you know my origins were from XYZ different places on earth you know what makes up what we are made up as Indians which is vpr maybe the DNA site was not specialized enough who knows but the readout of the report when it came back was just one sentence he said 100% South Asians so that's the story for you we have 100% salvation whatever we are and so the orchestra really precedes on that so I will stop here I don't question so as you see we did the performance of genomic in Bombay we brought together about 75 musicians from the region the Vice President of India was the chief guest he's been a great cheerleader for this project and he wants us to do more concerts it's really a peace building confidence building bridge building efforts that we have been booked on which in extreme pundit you know this is term to volunteer who was also her own right a very accomplished woman diplomat the first woman ambassador in the world to the Soviet Union and the United States she is to say let her sweat in peace rather than bleed I'm radical oh boy I'm a professor of economics now what you mentioned right in the beginning that France and Germany have had this animosity for so long but they came together for large economic benefits and you know the European Union happened so let me ask you the very obvious question didn't India and Pakistan see the larger economic benefits for start to be a success 360 degrees for the 2020 vision approaching that I think everybody knows that we should be collaborating we should have between each other we should have which has become hugely complicating factor so it has to be a change of mind from Pakistan side also the people in the establishment they have a certain you know my insect attitude busy I often remember my decision in the Hall Museum I looked at the section in the museum for the freedom struggle of Pakistan so I assumed that struggle Pakistan's very much the country and the focus was on aspects which perhaps we include but you don't make the center focus so they talked about boys be conceptualized and people like Reverend Andy how they define the idea of that section of his papers his pictures and in that section there was a mapping of subcontinent the huge traveling from ceiling to to floor and the veget across it was undivided Pakistan I very much enlightened by a little bit speech so I believe only in the victim is the swimming medium path self-realization such a table and it has no political if you throw your conditioner suddenly very long way between the camp that's my wish because it's like the Lord to me we did spend this is just a little tour sense of living in the region and peace can be established but it may be a very very small step but subtly in the years to come will go a long long way thank you tomorrow thank you ladies for executive speech my new bleep girl really loves you start with accents so my question to you is whether the current diplomats at that development degree of influencing in the world right now or has that glorious phase past and Clovis is working as a role and a relevance and meaning in a 21st century world also because problems resist differences continue war threatens to intervene organizations break down there is enough work for diplomats to do and there's also the question of the country's profile and role in the region and as far as it is concerned with our five trillion dollar economy around the corner of the city huge market we have such a large and scientifically trained people and the fact that we are in vain pulsating successful democracy all that buttresses are images and therefore it raises in his prestige and he guess position and we need to take strength that however much we may within the country have you know differences of competition different moves and all that that means whatever the case isn't here the outside world this is for free referencing looking at you know

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