India’s premier conference on global affairs, the Raisina Dialogue, kicks off on April 25 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the seventh edition in the presence of foreign dignitaries, including chief guest Ursula von der Leyen, the European Union Commission President. The conference is a joint venture of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and independent think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
This year’s Raisina Dialogue is being held in person in New Delhi after a gap of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The theme is “Terranova: Impassioned, Impatient, and Imperilled”.
The three-day international conference assumes greater significance in the backdrop of the unfolding invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This also follows a flurry of high-profile visits to New Delhi over the past month.
What is the Raisina Dialogue?
The Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics addressing issues facing the global community. It takes its name from the Raisina Hill, the seat of the Indian government.
Since its inception, the Raisina Dialogue has emerged as a leading global conference on international affairs featuring the participation of heads of state, ministers, journalists, academics and researchers.
When the first Raisina Dialogue was held in 2016, over 100 speakers from over 35 countries attended to speak on the theme, “Asia: Regional and Global Connectivity”. In 2017, over 120 speakers from 65 countries discussed “The New Normal: Multilateralism with Multipolarity”.
The third edition in 2018 dealt with “Managing Disruptive Transitions: Ideas, Institutions and Idioms”. The theme for the conference in 2019 was “New Geometrics, Fluid Partnerships, Uncertain Outcomes”.
The theme in 2020 was “Navigating the Alpha Centurys”. In 2021, the conference was hosted in a hybrid format. The theme was “Viral World: Outbreaks, Outliers and Out of Control”.
The Raisina Dialogue 2022 and its theme
The 2022 edition will have over 100 sessions with around 210 speakers from 90 countries and multilateral organisations.
While the main event takes place in New Delhi, side events will be held in Berlin and Washington, according to the MEA. A young fellows programme will also be organised on the sidelines of the event.
Over the course of three days, the dialogue will feature panel discussions across multiple formats on six thematic pillars. These are:
1. Rethinking democracy: Trade, Tech and Ideology
2. End of Multilateralism: A Networked Global Order?
3. Water Caucuses: Turbulent Tides in the Indo-Pacific
4. Communities Inc: First Responders to Health, Development, and Planet
5. Achieving Green Transitions: Common Imperative, Diverging Realities
6. Samson vs Goliath: The Persistent and Relentless Tech Wars
Prominent world leaders are touring India for the annual foreign policy conference, including former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt, former PM of Canada Stephen Harper, former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and former Australian PM Anthony Abbott.
Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Guyana, Nigeria, Norway, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia will also be in attendance.
The significance of Raisina Dialogue 2022
“India is the second-largest country in the world in terms of population, and the significance of demographics can never be underestimated…No matter where there is conflict, India worries about evacuating its people. Therefore, India has to be the one country invested in global peace that will seek to avoid conflict,” ORF Chairman Sunjoy Joshi notes.
“India will always stand for a truly rules-based international order, but one where rules cannot be short-circuited by anyone to suit the purpose of the mighty,” the ORF chairman says while adding that the Raisina Dialogue 2022 will help in finding ways to move toward a global order that is inclusive and rules-based.
On the idea behind the theme ‘Terranova’, he cites the change in world dynamics post COVID. “The pandemic jolted countries and societies to the core. We suddenly found ourselves in a new, unfamiliar world — Terranova. COVID-19 struck the richest and the poorest with equal ferocity — it spared none coming as the great leveller. We had been imagining that we had entered this century to catapult into a big brave new world, led by tech and new-age inventions. But in the last two years, since Covid, we find the world has moved forward only to go back. We are now living in an ‘impassioned world’ — a world haunted by an unknown, uncertain fear of a future in peril,” Mr. Joshi says.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar terms the conference an “opportunity to discuss the big ideas defining the emerging global realities.”
“The need for constructive conversations and encouraging diverse opinions along multiple tracks has never been more. In this discourse, we aim to map the evolving geopolitical and geoeconomic trend-lines, question prevalent dogmas about the international system, and encourage future-oriented thinking,” reads the minister’s message in the conference booklet.
He adds that the dialogue is a platform that brings together India’s friends and partners seeking common ground.