Posted by Johnattan Coachman, Community Contributor
The purpose of the WHC is to provide a global platform for the World Hindu Community to come together and organize. A confluence of Hindu leadership to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good – Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah. To step together and express together – Samgachhadwam, Sam Vaddadwam with one clear purpose: project the presence and strength of the Hindus as a people, as a collective, as a change agent on the world stage.
The first WHC was held in New Delhi four years ago. The theme envisioned for the 2nd Congress is the Hindu principle of “Think collectively, Achieve valiantly” – Sumantrite Suvikrante. With this guiding principle as our inspiration, the Congress had seven parallel conferences that focused on: economy, education, media, politics, youth involvement, women participation, and collaboration between Hindu organizations.
Why was this Congress so important? So that we Hindus graduate from individual success to collective success. Dharma is the foundation of all we do. It is a given. The WHC is about how we build upon Dharma as the root and reflect that inner strength, the self-control, the resilience and the deep capacity to work with unwavering commitment, in everything we do on the physical-societal plane. As a people we must once again encourage wealth creation, affordable quality education, promote a robust Hindu presence in mass media, cultivate future Hindu leaders, tap the unique strengths of Hindu women and encourage all Hindu organizations to work together. This is the only way to increase our sphere of influence and have a positive societal impact globally.
The preparations for WHC started at least two years ago. Initially, only one hotel was booked for the event, but as the word spread, the number of participants started increasing and finally, the number of delegates swelled to over 2,500 from more than 60 countries. That forced the organizers to book two more hotels to lodge the delegates and add an additional ‘overflow room’ for its plenary sessions. The follower count of its Twitter handle (@whcongress) swelled from a meager 3,000 or so in late August to 15,000 by the end of its concluding session.
One of the speakers in the women’s conference, entrepreneur and Grammy-nominated artist Chandrika Tandon suggested conducting value-based workshops, seminars and symposiums for young girls as short-term goals. She also favored setting up of an “angel investor group” for women entrepreneurs and compilation of a global Hindu women business directory.
In the economic conference finding new ways to open trade, further regulatory reforms in India, skill development, building ecosystems providing capital to start-ups and mentoring programs for young entrepreneurs were some of the suggestions. Hindus as a community should become economically more prosperous and viewed as an economic powerhouse, the conference felt. The conference also felt a need to harness the power of Hindu teachings, Vedic knowledge and thought, etc., into ‘soft-power’.
Education conference emphasized a strategy for developing scholarship in religious studies and a strong international network of Hindu scholars. Whereas media conference deliberated on fighting ‘fake news and narratives’, positive messaging.
The political conference, a subset of the WHC, suggested the need for a permanent secretariat in the US or UK for the cause of Hindu rights around the globe. To accomplish this task, a group comprising eminent persons will be formed.
The meeting highlighted the importance of asserting a strong political voice especially in the Caribbean, Fiji and the African countries, and developing young political leaders. A dynamic digital database of all political leaders should be developed, felt the participants.
Hindu human rights have been a grossly overlooked subject. To create awareness about atrocities and human rights violations committed against Hindus around the world, Hindu youth should leverage their social media skills and speak out against biased portrayals of Hindus, felt the participants.
One of the novel way to educated people about issues concerning Hindus was to organize a poster show. More than 50 posters on inspirational stories and community service projects as well as issues facing Hindus were on display. The poster on Sewa International’s “Toilet and hygiene project for the Girl Child”, “Pakistani Hindu: A genocide forgotten” and a poster by Gurukula.com were chosen as three best posters.
Mohandas Pai, Sonal Mansingh and R. Nagaswamy shared the dais for the third plenary session on “Hindu Society: Glory of the Past, Pain of Present and Dream for Future”, moderated by Subhash Kak. “We have a lot to be proud of,” said Kak.
Kak highlighted the inventions and scientific theories of today that have already been written about in ancient Indian works such as the significance of the number “108”. The true father of computer science should be Panini for his 4,000 rules of Sanskrit language, he said, and the inventor of quantum mechanics is said to have admitted that the concept came to him from the Upanishads.
The $2.6-trillion Indian economy is the third largest in the world after the US and China, said Pai, chairperson of Board of Manipal Global. “India will become a $10 trillion economy by 2030. Everyone should have the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, electricity, water, and healthcare. These problems will be solved by 2030. We need to invest in education, fund political parties through checks and demand honesty from our politicians,” he added.
Nagaswamy, a historian and archaeologist from Tamil Nadu, spoke about Manu Dharma which is derived from the Vedas. This was the first constitution and law code established 3,500 years ago, he said. “Manu Dharma describes how a child should be raised, how a king should rule, crime and punishment, among other things. These ‘laws’ or Manu Dharma should be established by great, learned people, who must be honest and have no hatred, enmity or greed, he said. These laws inscribed on copper plates have been found in ancient kingdoms across the Indian subcontinent,” he added.
During the event, it was announced that the next WHC would be held in Bangkok in 2022. It is expected that the Bangkok event will have a significant impact as there is likely to be more participation of people from India due to proximity. Moreover, since Thailand is the gateway to the ASEAN countries, the event is likely to create a buzz in the region. There are many countries in the region that share historical and cultural links with India and therefore, the event is likely to strengthen these bonds.