Mr. Fred Kaplan, Consul Public Affairs of the American Consulate General Chennai, presided over the function and delivered his presidential address.
The programme was well attended. Particularly there was a large turn out of university students, who also participated in the discussions that followed the talks.
Mr. P. M. Belliappa, the President of the EWCA Chennai Chapter welcomed the guest speakers, the alumni of EWCA Chennai Chapter, the distinguished academia and the gathering of other friends and stressed upon the importance and the relevance of the topic of the talk in the present-day context and particularly in the context of the objectives of the EWC to promote better understanding and goodwill between the peoples of the world.
Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed delivering his talk, highlighted the need to identify aspects of commonality between the countries of South Asia and to promote the same so that the peace process could be supported and further strengthened. Similarly there could be more of collaborations in the areas of trade and commerce, permitting free travel and exchange of ideas for better bonding of the ties between these countries. By playing down on the areas of differences and playing up on the areas of commonalities the peace process could be greatly facilitated. He pointed out that the key to achieving peace in the region lay in the resolving of the India-Pakistan imbroglio.
Mr. Fred Kaplan focused on the role played by Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi in bringing the non-violent movement to the centre stage of socio-political activities of the USA and India respectively and how their achievements could inspire the present day efforts to bring about peace in South Asia. He stressed the need for countries of the region to enhance trade relations among themselves, as that would increase the prospects for improved relations and not succumb to the temptation of embracing a protectionist regime in the current economic down turn. He informed the audience that USA had firmly resisted the idea of protectionism as a solution to the present economic crisis.
A lively discussion followed with several questions being fielded by the participants – students, alumni, academics and other invitees. These were ably answered by the speakers.
Mr. P. Subramaniyam, Vice – President of the EWCA Chennai Chapter proposed the vote of thanks.
The meeting was followed by lunch.