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 Invitation to an International Conference 

Re-Learning to be Human for Global Times:

Culture, Religion and Democratic Values

December 30-31, 2016                                                                   Varanasi, India




Banaras Hindu University



We are now living in a global world. This world has turned into a big village. The human race has made great developments. It has almost conquered nature and taken control. We are now able to fathom the depths of the ocean, to talk to persons who are thousands of kilometers away and to know in real time what is happening there in a particular country. We are able to send satellites to inquire and explore the possibility of life on other planets situated many light years away. We have made a tremendous progress which only 50 years ago was almost unimaginable and impossible to predict. But we have made no progress in our behavior, in our attitudes towards other fellow beings. On the contrary, it seems sometimes, we have become somewhat more conservative and dogmatic. Science and technology has provided us, on the one hand, great opportunities, but, on the other, it has supplied us the most destructive weapons. It has provided us a tremendous opportunity as well as a great challenge. We have to decide what we are going to choose in this century.

In the twenty first century we cannot live in the same way as in the past keeping our culture, religion and moral ideas unaffected and unaltered from external influences, because the world now has become a village. There are so many cultures, so many religions which are living in their own closed world and the people belonging to such a culture have a conception of self-superiority. A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. On the other hand a religion is a set of sacred ideas and beliefs which are shared by a group of individuals who claim to have been following that particular religion. Before the emergence of this global world it would have been easier to follow a particular way of life and to practice a particular religion without being challenged. But in the present century this is hardly possible, for there are many cultures and so many religions. The problem is that in one religion what is conceived as sacred in another is conceived as secular; in one culture what is understood as ideal in another that is considered uncivilized. Therefore, there is a possibility of conflict and clash. If that takes violent form, if an organization starts killing mercilessly the innocent people in the name of religion, if a particular organization takes an oath to destroy the followers of another religion, if in a society women are oppressed and have not been given equal rights, if we could not ensure justice to our fellow beings, it is very clear that in spite of this tremendous progress of science and technology we are still living in the same way as our ancestors used to live thousands of years ago fighting with each other over small issues. Till now we could not learn how to be human. 

The present globalised world has taken away the private space and left us with a multiplicity of religions, cultures and civilizations. A person living in a particular cultural and religious atmosphere moving from one place to another faces a new kind of culture, a new type of religion and a different type of civilization which seem to him so alien that many times he fails to adopt it.

This is a general tendency such that a person who seems to be a little different, follows a different set of practices, performs a different set of rituals or worships God with a different set of methods is conceived as an alien, a foreigner, the other. Before the start of globalization it would have been easier to treat those persons as alienated and preserve one’s own cultural and religious ideas from getting affected. But now we have entered in the twenty first century where there is no possibility to alienate any particular group, religion or culture. We have to live together. Now the differences in cultures are fading. We are moving towards a globalised culture. Religions and cultures will have to change themselves and accommodate their democratic values in order to sustain themselves. This globalised culture is rich in democratic values, which rooted basically on the idea of equality whereas the religions are more or less based on inequality; it is difficult for all religions to accept everyone as equal. Present conflicts between the ardent followers of different religions and cultures are actually efforts to preserve their own identities, their own religious and cultural values which appear to be in danger to the followers of those religions and cultures. The idea that the heretics, blasphemers and apostates should be punished or killed is ingrained in the minds of some radical religious groups. To do so they often engage in completely inhuman activities, which they do not recognize to be such.

Thus, scholars and students of philosophy and religion have a great responsibility for only a reflective mind can discover its own weaknesses, faults and superstitions. Hence the aim of this conference is to engage in a fruitful dialogue, to discover the safe path and to re-learn to be human. Tentative topics are as follows:

  1. Culture and religion in present age
  2. Impact of Globalization on Cultures
  3. Indian Culture and Values
  4. Gender Equality and Religion
  5. Religion and freedom of Speech
  6. Conflicts between cultural, religious and democratic values
  7. Changing moral Zeitgeist
  8. Morality, Religiosity and Human Values
  9. Personal Rights and Religion
  10. Secularism and Democracy
  11. Religion and Global Challenges
  12. Religion and Morality
  13. Values in Different Civilizations



Please send the abstract and a brief C.V. to Sachchidanand Mishra (sachchitmishra@gmail.com) and (cua-rvp@cua.edu)  until November 30, 2016. Presentation of accepted papers will be 20 minutes in length followed by 20 minutes discussion. Full papers (for which in order to promote in-depth investigation there is no upper page limit) will be published by the RVP.



There is no registration fee. Travel expense and accommodation will be covered by the participants (or their institutions).



Sachchidanand Mishra

Banaras Hindu University

Varanasi India

Email: sachchitmishra@gmail.com






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