CHICAGO – Dr. Najma Heptulla, Member of the Indian Parliament delivered a key note address on “Globalization and Ethnic Diversity” to the faculty and alumni of the School of Business Administration of Loyola University Chicago. Dean Abol Jalilvand had invited her for the address that was part of Dean’s Speaker Series on Responsible Leadership. The lecture took place at the Union League Club in Downtown Chicago.
Consul General of India, Ambassador Ashok Kumar Attri was a special guest at the function. He was accompanied by his wife Ms. Usha Kiran Attri. Also present amongst the audience were Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose, Associate Curator, Department of Asian and Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago; Jatinder Singh Bedi, Member Commission on Human Relations at the Chity of Chicago; Mr Jude Crasto Chief of the Air India in Chicago; and some local prominent members of RSS.
Dr. Najma Heptulla called upon a need for intellectual churning and scholarly insights that are important for a comprehensive understanding of globalization.
Describing various facets of globalization before the academia and members of the Indian community, Dr. Najma Heptulla stated that globalization is not a new or unknown process to the Indians.
Referring to India as an old civilization and rich in culture, she said that the pluralistic nature of the Indian society is indeed India’s greatest asset. She stated that, “[In India] diverse social and religious groups coexist in harmony, [and are] always guided by the Indian ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the entire world is one family and that a common humanity unites all civilizations.”
Globalization is not a recent phenomenon concerning only economic, cultural or technological aspects. Dr. Najma said that “it is an age-old phenomenon involving a complex set of processes, that are political, cultural, technological, strategic and above all economic.”
While quoting in fluent Sanskrit from Rig Veda, Dr. Najma said that “universal brotherhood and mutual cooperation are the essence of Indian civilization which is all embracing in character.”
She termed globalization as “an inevitable reality.” No nation is immune from the overriding influence of globalization. She called upon the world community to responsibly manage the forces of globalization to enable mankind live together more securely and peacefully. While discussing various facets of globalization, Dr. Najma said that on the economic front, globalization has created new trade opportunities. “India with its large pool of knowledge workers has taken real advantage.”
She stated that “while working in the framework of multilateral global trade, we must safeguard the food and livelihood security of farmers and maximize export opportunities of agricultural products.”
“We must prepare agriculture, industry and other sectors of economy to face the challenges of competition to reap the advantages of globalization,” Dr. Najma added. She said that globalization has consolidated democracy as the only legitimate political system. “Globalization has immensely contributed towards strengthening of democratic forces across the world. We should ensure that the balance of power is not tilted towards one country or a few countries. And, the global decision making bodies are governed by democratic principles of rule of law, respect for national sovereignty, dialogue and consensus,” Dr. Najma Heptulla opined. While facilitating the cross-cultural contacts, Globalization has created new consciousness and identities embodying cultural diffusion. It has enabled adoption of new technology and practices. “Cultural globalization has unleashed a process of homogenization,” Dr. Najma said. She stressed the need for adequate safeguards to preserve and promote local uniqueness, individuality, and cultural identity.
Dr. Najma said that Indian ethos and religion are the ideal age-old examples of globalization. Since these were not imposed and were adopted voluntarily, they did not create decent or conflict. “The resistance and rejection arises if any thing is forced on people like we have seen during the colonial era,” She said. She added that “in recent times in Europe and Australia to wear head scarf by Muslim girls or Turban by Sikhs has been objected to. If a dress code or religious practice does not interfere into other people’s freedom one should not object.”
Dr. Najma Heptulla described globalization as a two-way process involving homogenization as well as fragmentation. “It has swept like a flood tide through the world’s diverse cultures, bringing a market-driven homogenization of cultural experience,” she said. The ‘Internet’ and ‘multinationals,’ are being viewed as globalization’s most evident symbols, But its indelible birthmark is violent conflict leading to the resurgence of ethnic nationalism, she added.
Dr. Najma Heptulla emphatically stressed the need to respect and reinforce the ethnic identities in order to achieve national and global peace and prosperity. She said that the impact of globalization is strongest on ethnic populations. These communities have no voice and are, therefore, easily susceptible to the invisible forces of the market. She said that the globalization is not merely a question of marginalization for indigenous people. It is a multi-pronged attack on their existence and livelihoods.
In the era of overwhelming influence of the forces of globalization, Dr. Najma Heptulla highlighted the urgent need to generate professional interest in understanding indigenous knowledge. “The vast tribal and indigenous population possesses remarkable knowledge and wisdom which need to be preserved and protected from the onslaught of globalization. Then alone we can manage our rich ethnic diversity and multiculturalism and reap the advantages of true globalization,” Dr. Heptulla said.
“In my opinion democracy which is inclusive, participatory and interactive is the only solution to the problems which have immerged world over due to globalization,” Dr. Najma Heptulla concluded. She thanked Dean Mr. Abol Jalilvand, Consul General of India Ambassador Attri, members of the Faculty and the students. A dinner followed.
Later, next day, Consul General of India Ambassador Ashok Kumar Attri hosted a private dinner in Dr. Najma Heptulla’s honor. Dr. Rahul Deepankar, Jatinder Singh Bedi, and Dr. Bharat Barai attended. Dr. Najma Heptulla has been the Deputy Chairperson of the Rajaya Sabha and is the Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation.