How saddening a thought that wherefrom had flowed great streams of culture and light in all directions and which was once hailed as cradle of culture and civilization, the same effulgent and enlightner Asia today is in the grip of dependency syndrome reeling under the weight of foreign indebtedness. With hegemonism and unilateralism of the world's sole super power looming large over the entire Asian continent which accounts for 75 per cent of all the oil reserves the United States is not only seeking to extend its economic, military and political control over it but also using it as a testing ground for its military prowess and precision-guided missiles and new generation fire power. What is clearly and blatantly a pursuit of its national self interest and show of its unmatched technological, military and thermo nuclear supremacy is being presented in the garb of civilizational clashes in certain select areas of the world.
With its rich physical, material and human resources, its 60 per cent of the global population and 33 per cent of the earth's surface together with vast reservoirs of oil wealth, Asian continent can not only become self sufficient but also transfer its surpluses to those other countries in dire need. The Asian Economic Market can transform this world's currently most impoverished region into one of the world's most thriving and vibrant economies. Since Asia is a home to diverse religions and cultures, dialogue can prove a sure method of forging the bonds of unity that lie embedded in the commonality of its shared past, common origins, common destiny, and common aspirations.
Given the innumerable harmonizing strands within the hallowed civilizational heritage of Asia, dialogue can prove most effective in repairing what has been described as the civilizational fault lines. Dialogue has the potential of not only stemming the tide of global terror, proxy wars and cross border terrorisms but also paving the way for a viable and strong Asian Union.
In the newly emerging knowledge--based networked society at the global level several multi-national conglomerates are coming up through mergers and takeovers with the avowed object of capturing the global market. In the new game only the rich nation-states and the mega-corporations are entering as the greatest stakeholders and beneficiaries of the new fiscal regime having a global sweep. Their chief concern is to perpetuate their hold on the world capital and not to rock the boat of globalization which pays them dividends. They would not do it for the sake of such emotional entities as the nation-state, religion or civilization. Nor would they risk waging a war for territorial expansion or for self determination. Nor would they do so to alter the international borders and surely not to establish the supremacy of one civilization over another. Whatever clashes and wars that we see being unleashed from time to time in the current phase are designed to preserve and promote pure national self interest. This includes even preemptive strikes against the forces of global terror avowedly resorted to in self defence. There is broad agreement that war can not solve any problem and any adventurist move can spell the very doom of mankind in which there will be no victors, no vanquished.
Consequently the prospect of clanging of ideologies, clashes of civilizations and wars of religions are receding. The world-views of science and spirituality are converging to shape a new world and a new civilization where cultural diversities will be celebrated. A new human society is muscling out of the womb of the past when dialogue, diversity in unity and democratic decision-making will become the ruling credo of the human societies. Already the world is heading towards one single integrated society through new strides in the field of communications. In such a world there will be no rationale for confrontations between ideological systems, wars of religion, Jehads and crusades. They will cease to stir the morally and spiritually enlightened citizenary of the future.
Today the only option before mankind is either to hold together and become active collaborators in fructifying the vision of a new world order informed by universal harmony and brotherhood or simply to be wiped out of existence. Humanity have to bow before the logic of reason and good sense to realize their common human destiny that binds all beings into one single global family.
Since all prejudice, hatred and fear proceed from the binary schism'we' and 'they', dialogue emerges as the proven way of transforming discord and conflict into harmony and co-operation. By promoting a better understanding of the 'other', dialogue rids us of fear-psychosis emanating from nightmares and chimeras which are constantly being bred by fear and hatred in our brains. Dialogue, by drawing on the best in human cultures and civilizations, can help generate fresh impulses of creativity and self-sustaining effulgence in human societies. Tolerance of dissent and celebration of cultural diversity are the very pre-requisites of a civil society. They, by giving a fillip to decentralized and democratic decision-making at the local and global level, provide the guarantee of human rights everywhere in all spheres of human discourse. This can be India's greatest contribution for realizing a non-violent just and humane world order.
It is the fond hope of every peace-loving people that dialogue among civilizations--oriental and occidental--will contribute to peace and prosperity of all mankind. If this dialogue between the Islamic and Inidic civilizations blossoms into the dialogue among other civilizations for the greatest good of mankind, it will surely strengthen the bonds of fraternity and brotherhood among the peoples of the world and help counter the threat of neo-fundamentalism and terrorism.
These readings and excerpts from writings and speeches of notable thinkers, publicists and experts will, it is hoped, illumine some of the gray areas of the contemporaneous debate and will let us share mankind's common enduring concerns. The insights and harmonizing threads running through various cultures may help convert the clash of civilizations into the dialogue among civilizations, a phrase coined by His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Khatami, The President of Islamic Republic of Iran.
It is our fond hope that more and more nations and peoples will join this dialogue to benefit the most vulnerable of the global human family who have been victims of revenge, terror, hatred, bigotry and fanaticism. Our aim is to provide educational input to the readers with a view to informed dialogue among them on the pivotal issue of our times. Those celebrated leaders of thought whose words of wisdom find a place in this volume of Earth Vision deserve our gratitude for setting the tone of this dialogue among civilizations and making indefatigable efforts that this dialogue may succeed. On this precarious hope rests man's very survival. Hence the present volume is being dedicated to interlocutors in this dialogue.
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