unnamed (12)One Globe 2014, the third edition of the annual multi-disciplinary knowledge conference, kick-started today in New Delhi. India’s Minister for External Affairs, and Lawyer-Educationist-Writer-Politician Salman Khurshid, was the chief guest for the occasion. The two-day conference is being organized by Salwan Media in partnership with Knowledge, International New York Times, Brain Gain Magazine and US-India Business Council (USIBC). The conference is also supported by Swedish Chamber of Commerce in India (SCCI) and Chamber of Commerce and Industry France India (CCIFI). Smt. Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, was the guest of honour.

With the overarching theme of creating a 21st century knowledge economy in India and South Asia, the conference brings together stakeholders from educational institutes, government, industry, NGOs and media from all over the world to highlight and improve the linkages between economic development and creating an ecosystem for better education in rural and urban society. It attempts to analyse the progress in and develop future strategies for K-12 and higher education, skills development, technology, innovation, smart cities and urbanisation.

Speaking at the conference, India’s External Affairs Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid said, “When I travel around the world, people have high expectations from India – they have heard of our IITs and IIMs, about India sending the vehicle to Mars, about our human resources in the field of IT. There is enormous amount of applaud and appreciation for India around the world. But back home, the shadow of darkness has lethal dimensions. We have to fight them and we will overcome. It may take time but we will succeed. Our real challenge is not the evil, but the apathy – an unwillingness to open our minds. How can India shut its doors to knowledge when the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, wanted us to open our minds?”

Stressing on a need for inclusion in education while formulating policies, Mrs. Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, said, “Since the Right to Education was enacted, nearly 200 million children in 6-14 years age group have received free and compulsory education in India, and 120 million children have benefitted from Mid-Day Meal scheme. As a result, the dropout rates in Classes I through X have come down which has been a major achievement. The enrolment rates at primary and secondary level, too, have gone up.”

Harjiv Singh, founder and CEO of Salwan Media, and convenor of the One Globe knowledge conference, says, “South Asia accounts for a quarter of the world’s population and has one of the youngest demographics in the world with over 50% of the population under the age of 25. Its 800 million youth equal the combined populations of the United States, Indonesia and Brazil. India and South Asia can learn from the world’s experiences, create a more sustainable economic growth and lay the foundation of a knowledge economy that benefits not only the region but also the world.”

Renowned danseuse, actor, social activist and AAP member, Mallika Sarabhai, said, “India is an open society with a closed mind that has done great disservice to the women by keeping them out of schools, colleges, jobs and pretty much everything that will empower them. Education, both formal and informal, traditional and creative, needs to be imparted with speed and innovation so that women become the key enablers for India to restore its status as a great and modern civilization in the 21st century. The education and empowerment of women is the single most important national conversation that must take place relentlessly in India today. Forums like One Globe do a great service to this cause by fostering a conversation amongst all key stakeholders and find practical solutions that will have both short and long term impact.”

BJYM’s National President and BJP Member of Parliament Anurag Thakur said, “India’s youth is not a ‘vote bank’ but a ‘bank of ideas’ and for them I propose a ‘new politics’ that focuses on education, employment & empowerment.”

Former managing editor of Tehelka, Shoma Chaudhury, said, “Too often, the media in India mistakes noise for combativeness. It seems incapable of complexity and nuance. Perhaps, the most dangerous trend is how the voice of the mob has come to dominate newsrooms, with the bile on social media setting the agenda rather than responsible editorial leadership. A new generation of young journalists therefore should be educated and trained to correct these biases so that society may be served better.” Commenting on her upcoming panel session titled ‘The Role of Media in Education Policy and Culture’, during the conference, she said, “The quality of education is the building block of every society. Conferences like One Globe are crucial for triggering much-needed conversations across stakeholders.”

Fast paced sessions at the conference deliberate on issues such as interdependence of education and economic growth, significance of Foreign Education Bill, pre-school education, role of private equity in developing 21st century skills through technology, impact of future knowledge hubs with the two major economic corridors being constructed in India, vocational training and employment for semi-skilled workers, edu-tech as a bridge or divide, making quality education scalable under RTE, national security, arts education for creativity and collaboration, role of media, overcoming political challenges in South Asia to collaborate on education, storytelling, innovative education delivery models, and India’s goal of skilling 500 million people by 2022.

Experts speaking at the conference include Onno Ruhl, India Country Director, South Asia, World Bank; Som Mittal, former President, NASSCOM; Dilip Chenoy, MD & CEO, National Skill Development Corporation; Amitabh Kant, CEO & MD, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited (DMICDC); Jerry MacArthur Hultin, Senior Presidential Fellow, New York University; Dr. Sethuraman ‘Panch’ Panchnathan, Senior Vice President, Knowledge Enterprise Development, Arizona State University; Rita Soni, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation; Sunit Singh Tulli, founder-CEO, Datawind; Dr. Subir Gokarn, Director of Research, Brookings India; Dr. Shailaja Fennell, Lecturer, Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge; Prof. George Mclemore, Professor, University of Texas; Meeta Sen Gupta, Senior Advisor, Centre for Civil Society; Mr. Kotaro Tamura, Chairman, Strategic Initiative of Japan; Ambassador Sajjad Ashraf, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Singapore; and General J.J. Singh, Governor of Arunachal Pradesh and former Chief of Army Staff. Top leaders from Adobe Systems, Microsoft, Oracle, Fortis, Viridis Learning Inc., JustJobs Networks and Insight Asia are also participating at the event., South Asia’s largest online study abroad publication on higher education, is also hosting a free Study Abroad information session for school and college students on the second day of the One Globe 2014 conference. India’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Manish Tewari, and former President of the International Union of Students, will deliver the valedictory keynote address.