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A Challenge in Asia

Once a melting pot of cultures as varied as the Mongolian and the Dravidian, todays scene in Asia
seems more like that in the Tower of Babel story. While the rest of the world reconciles with its growing
diversity and welcomes its new demography, most Asian countries are on the verge of cultural conflict.
Owing to discriminatory foreign policies and internal domestic priorities, the idea of a globalised Asia
has taken a backseat in most constituents. Barring a few urban national settings like Singapore and Hong
Kong, most remain cuddled in their own cocoon of homogeneous society.
The question one may then ask is whether Asia could ever be truly developed if it doesnt open its gates
to the multitude of talent and diversity a globalized world has to offer. Can a society be modern in the
real sense while it allows (at times, approves) discrimination against a different culture? The grounds of
such bias could be several ranging from ethnicity, appearance or gender, or be owing to prejudice that
comes from jingoistic sentiment like in the Sino-Japanese or the Indo-Pak case. Narrow-mindedness and
self-centeredness have long been perceived as personal character traits. However, when these natures
become representative of a collective society, they could be far more detrimental than in the case of an
individual. It is this very challenge that threatens Asia today.
There was a time when the Europeans had to deal with such clash, then it was the North Americas and
now it has made its presence in Asia. In this circumstance, it is extremely essential that Asia takes a leaf
out of the books of its global counterparts and its also worth hoping that the developed world lends a
helping hand. Incidentally, the HPAIR shines as a major step in that very direction.

A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the
world, and stop it going to sleep, says an unafraid and outspoken Salman Rushdie. For me, it would be
the highest pleasure to hear from this great magician of words, not merely because of his literary
prowess but also because of the human being he is. Who else could one think of as a speaker than a
person who has paid, in full measure, the price for standing by the ideal of free speech.
Significantly, another of his extraordinary assets for HPAIR is his immensely deep understanding of Asia,
particularly the subcontinent. Having also stayed for a sizeable span in the West, he has seen his own
homeland change from the outside as well as from within. While the world was busy embracing
modernization and scientific progress, he has been a target of ill-placed contempt and boycott of the
most conservative nature. In this context, having him invited to the HPAIR would mean getting a firsthand perspective on what Asia means to him and how it has transformed over time. It will indeed be
interesting to know what he thinks of the bond between Asia and the world and what specifically could
be the better sides that both could take from each other.
An author, through his medium, works as a major stimulant for philosophical churning and social
change. Through his tremendously popular books, I believe he has canvassed for the goodness in
humans without sounding sermonizing at any point. His ability to convey the deepest truths in the most
simple but surreal way, makes him an exemplary communicator. Lastly, he has forever been open to
dialogue, as he puts in his own words A purpose of our lives is to broaden what we can understand and
say and therefore be.