Kazakhstan’s Odyssey of Peace and Harmony

October 23, 2018 Asia , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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Anil Trigunayat



The basic tenet and imperative for the human race is to learn to coexist while respecting the rights and beliefs of people of all religions, faiths, hues and colours as long as they do not pose the existential threat to humanity itself. However, this has precisely been so very difficult since tolerance and respect for one another have rigorously been confronted by religious and misconstrued and misrepresented charades in the very name of religious beliefs more often than not by the religious leaders and preachers for their myopic gains. This has caused immense pain to generations and caused an impervious divide. Suspicion lurks and tends to defeat any effort to overcome and bridge this hiatus of trust.


President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has been one such leader who embarked upon the journey to bring around leaders of the world and those of the Traditional Religions in order to generate a consensus to jointly confront the menace of violence, extremism and trust deficit under the garb of religion and faith differentials. During the past 15 years of its inception the Six Congresses have consistently undertaken the tasks of promoting global dialogue among religions and cultures; deepening and strengthening mutual understanding and respect among different religious communities; development of the culture and mutual respect as opposed to the ideology of hatred and extremism; and cooperation and interaction with all international organisations and structures that pursue the goals of promoting dialogue among religions, cultures and civilisations.


The Congresses have been held in Astana -the most beautiful and modern twenty years young capital of Kazakhstan that itself had become an independent country only about a quarter century ago. But its leadership has displayed tremendous energy, foresight, vision and global initiatives including that on non-proliferation and religious tolerance and consistent quest for peace. Moreover Astana was built as a Eurasian City of the future open to all cultures with true philosophy of “Unity in Diversity’, according to President Nazarbayev where special spirit of solidarity, mutual respect and tolerance are manifested in its very essence architecture.


The 6th Congress of the Leaders of the World and Traditional Religions was held in Astana on October 10-11,2018 with the participation of leaders and representatives from Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity and others including political leaders. This time the President of Serbia was the distinguished invitee since that country has suffered a great deal due to ethnic atrocities. The Congress was timely as the World is in a flux and uncertainty, terrorism and unilateralism have become the hallmark of international discourse which was clearly evident in the underlying themes and Panel discussions of the Congress. While the religious leaders could urge their followers of the fundamental teachings of brotherhood, forbearance, tolerance and accommodation the political vitriolic could easily derail the process as victimisation of one or the other will lead to further discontent and polarisation. Hence it is imperative that leaders in all domains in the society, confronting the same challenges, do attach the same importance to tolerance and fundamental human and civilisational values.


The unholy nexus of politics and religion has often afflicted the world with far reaching negative consequences. Does this mean that State and Religion should be separated or mechanisms be divided so that only positive fall out could be nurtured for the larger good of the society? But more often than not the religious leaders play into the hands of the scheming politicians and vice versa for the hunger and quest for scheming power plays. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and by extension this nexus undermines the humanity and the unity of moral values it stands for. I recall an old saying “Two people you should never trust -religious leader who tells you how to vote and a politician who tells you how to pray.”


During the Conference one of the most interesting sessions was Manifesto ‘The world. The XXI Century’ as a concept of global security during which several religious leaders and representatives spoke of the specific challenges and how those can be overcome. What made me a bit concerned was the fixation on certain concepts and silos everybody is trying to operate. For example while it was laudable to listen to the representative from Pakistan that they have issued a Fatwa against Jihad carried out by any individual or religious group, he stated that it was only the State that can undertake Jihad… why in the first place should Jihad be talked about in the 21st century when we trying to talk of religious peace. Similarly the Russian Orthodox church Deputy talked about issues and efforts pertaining to peace in Syria and Afghanistan and the Russian role but did not touch upon the problems being faced from the other powers who would not let their own area of influence fritter away. The American representative did not touch upon the disruptionist policies of the current administration while decimating credibility of others.


The most interesting presentation was that of the Head of the Chinese Buddhist when he presented the Belt and Road Initiative to be the string of cultural symphony in both his interventions. Hopefully it will indeed be so without intruding into the terrain of sovereignty and suzerainty. Also good to see that Communism has found a modus-vivendi with religion and Buddhism. The Indian scholar Dr Dave spoke of “Vasudhev Kutumbkam” -World is one family and narrated the story of an Indian temple being attacked by terrorists and how the Chief Priest contained any religious uproar and retaliation against the minority community and how even respectfully buried one of the terrorists. Harmony has to be assiduously cultivated by one and all in our daily prayers, thoughts, behavior and discourse.


President Nazarbayev has so rightly put it into context: Inter- Civilizational conflicts look absurd against the backdrop of scientific and technological progress. But at this moment the shape of the future of humanity is being formed. In what condition will we pass on our common planet to future generations -this is the main Civilizational problem. Hence the Declaration of the sixth Congress agreed to support and respect religious diversity and counteract pseudo religious provocative rhetoric enticing hate and extremism. Recognizing and acknowledging the problem and its roots is the beginning of a concerted campaign and fight against selfish mischief of only a few. Amen!





Anil Trigunayat

Amb. Anil Trigunayat is a member of the Indian Foreign Service. He has served in the Indian Missions in Cote d’Ivoire, Bangladesh, Mongolia, USA, Russia, Sweden and Nigeria, Libya and Jordan. In the Ministry of External Affairs he has worked in the Economic, West Asia and North Africa and Consular Divisions.

He also served as Director General/Joint Secretary for the Gulf & Haj Divisions in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi. Thereafter, Mr. Trigunayat worked as Deputy Chief of Mission in the rank of Ambassador in the Embassy of India, Moscow

Prior to his superannuation in May 2016, he served as Ambassador of India to Jordan and Libya and High Commissioner to Malta (June 2012 – May 2016).

He is a post Graduate in Physics from the Agra/Kumaon University and also studied Russian History, Culture and Language at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. As a visiting fellow he also conducted research work on “WTO and Regional Trading Blocs” at the Oxford University.

He is a member of the All India Management Association/Delhi Management Association as well as that of Oxford and Cambridge Society of India and the Association of Indian Diplomats (former Ambassadors).  He is also the Honorary Member of the International Trade Council, Brussels.

Currently he is steering a Committee on promotion of trade and investment with Africa and the Middle East at the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industries. He is also honorary Adviser to BRICS Chamber of Commerce.

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1 Comment

  1. Dr B B L MADHUKAR October 24, at 15:53

    Amb Anil Trigunayat has very beautifully summed up the proceedings of international conference of all religions. He has highlighted the observations of Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev who flagged the main issue , namely,in what condition shall we pass on our common planet to future generations


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