New Delhi | External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today launched Nalanda University Chancellor George Yeo’s book ‘Bonsai, Banyan and the Tao’, describing it as a testament to the power of ideas.
In her speech, Swaraj expanded on the name of the book terming Banyan as a metaphor for providing a protective space for people to thrive and for a more tolerant and harmonious world.
Our world today is consumed by violent conflicts, environmental degradation and deepening inequalities. We are sorely in need of reclaiming a common heritage and shared principles that will show us a path out of the turmoil that we have created, she said.
The event saw a distinguished panel, comprising former Union Minister P Chidambaram, former MP N K Singh, TMC MP Sugato Bose and Singaporean envoy Lim Thuan Kuan, sharing its views on Yeo’s book.
The book launch at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, which houses several Divisions of the Ministry of External Affairs, was described as unusual by Chidambaram who praised MEA for hosting the event while urging it to continue the tradition. Yeo echoed Chidambaram’s views and said that it is very unusual for a Foreign Minister to launch a book.
The book is a collection of 91 essays and lectures by Yeo who was Singapore’s Foreign Minister. He said Swaraj had convinced him to take over as the Nalanda University Chancellor and had promised him full autonomy. Touching upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that Singapore has become a metaphor for the reality of dreams, Swaraj said its transformation from an impoverished colonial port establishes what sustained and incorruptible commitment to development can achieve.
That metaphor has now gripped much of Asia like a fever. The pendulum, as Mr Yeo describes it, has begun to swing back to our side of the world. It only remains to be seen how quickly we can adapt to the future and make the Asian Century our own, she said.
Bose, who is the Gardiner Professor of History at Harvard University, stressed that India needs to pursue cosmopolitanism that will be open to the world. Diversity is not only to be tolerated but celebrated, he quoted Rabindranath Tagore as saying.