Global Dialogue : Mumbai or Elsewhere
Subrata Kumar Das
Mondialogo has been working as a globally significant platform for intercultural dialogue since 2003. Getting involved in it and being awarded twice, it brought some personal impressions for me as well. The first incident was my team's inclusion in the 50 bests among the 2600 teams across the world in the Mondialogo School Contest 2005-2006 and consequently attending the Rome symposium in November 2006. And secondly being one of the three best teams out of those 50 finalists of the last year and thus attending the Mumbai symposium.
Very recently, during the second week of December I had been travelling to Mumbai for about a week. It was for attending Mondialogo Engineering Symposium which aims to help meet the finalists from different countries of the world in person.
Every year Mondialogo organises one symposium, alternatively for the School Contest and Engineering Award. The first symposium was in Barcelona, while the second one was held in Berlin, which was followed by the Rome symposium. This year's one was the second edition for the engineers and fourth in Mondialogo.
Engineering Contest is basically for the engineering students. The promising engineers who came out as the finalists this year hail from Germany, the USA, the UK, Guatemala, India, South Africa, Nepal, Palestine, Singapore, Rwanda, Indonesia, Kenya, Columbia, Canada, Sweden, Cambodia, Ghana, Cuba, France, Peru, Cameroon, Greece, Mexico, South Korea, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea counting the total number of participants to 62.
The international jury of prominent scientists, who had been busy in making the selection for months together, included Peggy Oti-Boateng of Ghana, Shirley M. Malcom of the USA, Kamel Ayadi of Tunisia, Ali Uddin Ansari of India and Paul W. Jowitt of Scotland. Moreover, the symposium was attended by a large group of Daimler and Mondialogo (UNESCO) as well as media people, especially BBC and CCTV of China. It was also very worthwhile for me to be a part of the international gathering. Three best school (up to Class XII) teams (comprising one student and the supervising teacher each) were invited to experience what the young engineers do. With a Mexican and Lebanese team we attended from Bangladesh based on our Mondialogo Day activities.
As was my experience in the early symposium in Rome, I felt the inner essence of the Mondialogo authority was that they wanted to arrange a globalised gathering and help the best participants meet face to face that in the forth coming world so that they can learn to work together making no discrimination of caste, creed, religion or colour.
The day-basis schedule included: Official opening on 7th December in the evening; Visiting Mercedes-Benz India Plant, Pune and enjoying 'India Night' at Mercedes-Benz International School on 8th; Project presentation by all teams on 9th; and Workshops in the morning and at noon on 10th followed by a Gala evening at NCPA (National Centre of Performing Arts).
I was so fortunate that my flight schedule was one day earlier and two days later after the symposium. As it was on engineering solely, sometimes it turned to be difficult for us, the teachers and students from the school contest, to keep pace with the lofty ideas and imaginations of the engineers. Herewith it is worth mentioning that all the engineering teams were peered together: one from the developed world and the other from the developing world. And how exciting it sounds that both the teams worked together to solve a problem of the latter ones.
The food of the five star hotel - The retreat deserves much appraisal It is located some 60-70 kilometres far from the city areas in the Erangal Beach. The day we traveled to Pune, we got some chances to have a look at the hilly landscape around. When we traveled to NCPA, we were given the opportunity to know about the famous places of Mumbai. But the reality is such that no one got a chance to get down the buses: we had all the looks through the glasses that caused heavy sighs for everyone.
We had free days on the 11th and 12th. So we made a group and roamed around the noteworthy spots including the India Gate, Hazi Ali Darga, Hotel Taj, Mumbai University, Mahalaxmi Temple, Shivaji Park and Juhu Beach. There we could not reach many significant places but the few we got to were really praiseworthy. The palaces around Marine Drive or Mahim Bay are surely able to surprise a visitor with their beauties.
No doubt, we had been among many great souls there in the symposium. I must mention Roland Grossman first who became a very good friend of mine this time, though not during the Rome days. Similar was the case of Amina Hamshari - so smart but so generous! Bialy Leszek always proved himself to be very cooperative! I found many other young participants talking about Bialy's sincere cooperation as well. Shall I ever forget Nabil Nachi, the engineer from the Daimler even after having so long a talk on various aspects of different religions? The Tunisian young man won my heart, if I confess truly. The interest of Prof. Ali Uddin Ansari, the great scientist, about Bangladesh simply overwhelmed me.
From the engineering students I like to recall Luis Jose Salazar Serrano of Columbia for his interactive participation in personal dialogues. The interest of Tony Pereira from the USA about involving our recent Nobel Laureate Dr. Yunus in Mondialogo shook me! People like Miriam Leicht of Germany, Sarah Elizabeth of the UK, Aravjndhan Rathinam and Vaibhav Tidke of India, Emil Gustav of Sweden, Orodi Johannes of Kenya, Hayes Caughman, Yuri Andreyevich and Maren of the USA, Susmita Adhikari of Nepal, Tommy Ka Kit of Canada, Rakea Heng of Cambodia, Cejetan of Nigeria, Berthe Solamge of Cameroon will remain fresh in my memory for long. I found some members of different teams also crowding at the venue. Among them the presence of Darshan Mehta of Mumbai caused much happiness in me as I had been in contact with him over emails for some months. While receiving the award, Orodi told that he would dedicate the project for his poor fellowmen, my eyes seemed getting wet. Is the day much far when thousands of young people will voice in the same tone for my Bangladesh?