C20 Kochi Conference: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

CIVIL-20 (C20) is the official engagement group of the G20, representing the civil society organisations of the G20 member countries. The group was established in 2013 and seeks to provide a platform for civil society organisations to engage with G20 leaders on issues of global importance.

The Government of India bestowed the responsibility to Chinmaya Mission to be the National Coordinator of one of the working groups under C20 2023—‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and nominated Swami Mitrananda as the National Coordinator.
The C20 Kerala chapter was hosted by Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth on 12 April 2023. Civil 20 presents an opportunity for civilians to voice their opinions which would be taken up in the G20 summit. Around 200 delegates attended the session and a panel of eminent speakers, right from Sanskrit scholars and educationists to archaeologists and artists focused on policy recommendations for India’s G20 Summit. The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ was deliberated on mainly through three sub-themes: (1) Dharma, Spirituality, Ethics and Ecology (2) Education (3) Arts, Literature and Culture.

In the inaugural address, Swami Mitrananda, spoke about ‘India G20/C20 Leadership Perspective: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. He discussed how seeing the creator and the created as divine could be a major gateway for resolving conflicts. Prof. Ajay Kapoor, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor presented a statistical study comparing India in ancient and modern times. He also showed how India would be at the cusp of taking up leadership in the future and that the motto of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ will change the face of leadership, governance, and management.

The first plenary session on ‘Dharma, Spirituality, Ethics and Ecology’ began with a discussion on ‘Holistic Vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam through the Lens of Dharma’ by Swamini Vimalananda, Acharya, Chinmaya Mission. She presented the dharmic vision and the challenges of being dharmic, which included moral values, duties, and right conduct. She gave the motto to ‘think global and act local’ for the practical application of vasudhaiva kutumbakam. Dr. Gauri Mahulikar, Academic Director of CIF, spoke on the ‘Vedic Bedrock of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Interestingly, she pointed out the shared living lifestyle acknowledging mother nature during the Vedic times. One of her recommendations included celebrating the seasonal festivals to appreciate nature better. Dr. Apparao Mukkamala, Managing Trustee of CVV, spoke on unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle which has harmed the environment and he proposed the ways of ahimsa, tapas and yajna for leading an eco-friendly lifestyle. 

The second plenary session was on education. Swami Viviktananda spoke on the topic- ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as the Lynchpin of True Education’. He discussed how the idea of one world one family must be imbibed to a child at a very young age. Prof. Achuthsankar S. Nair, from the Department of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Kerala, gave a scientific deliberation on the philosophy of oneness. He spoke about “The Continuum and Cooperation of all Life Forms”. He discussed the interconnectedness between beings as they are made of cells and atoms and also pointed out how important it was to be in touch with mother nature. Next, Shri CA Venugopal C Govind, Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kochi Kendra, emphasized on the need to reform teachers as they played a significant role in transforming the minds of children.

The third plenary session was on “Culture, Arts and Literature”. The session began with an address by Lt. Col. (Hon) Mohanlal, the complete actor. He talked about how Vasudheiva Kutumbakam is not just a saying but a Mahamantra, which motivates and shapes a mind that not only accepts everything but also adapts to the situation. A mind that not just makes him a proud Bharatiya but also a dutiful global citizen. In his speech, he also stressed the importance of Athiti Devo Bhava pointing at the ever-welcoming Indian tradition in which the fear of cultures had never existed. The next speaker was Swami Sharadananda, a senior swami in Chinmaya Mission. He exhibited how Gandharva vidya connects culture, arts and literature to vasudhaiva kutumbakam. The story from Natya Shastra as to how the first dramatist in Indic tradition Bharata Muni used arts as a tool to unite people in the time of distress, stands as a testimony for culture, arts and literature to be the gateway for “One Earth, One Family and One Future”. The last speaker for the session was Padmashri Dr. Muhammed K.K., a renowned archaeologist who had spearheaded various important archaeological excavations. Through the hair-raising exploration of the revival of Bateshwar temples at Chambal Valley with the help of dacoits, Dr. Muhammed KK showed the application of oneness. 

The plenary session was followed by a panel discussion. Dr. Gauri Mahulikar spoke about the oneness from a cultural perspective and showed how the whole world is culturally bound to each other with the example of the harvesting festival that is known by different names such as Vishu, Gudipadwa, Baisakhi and so on. Prof. AchuthSankar focused on the sense of education in Kutumba and the role of teachers in preaching it. Dr. Apparoa Mukkamala called for a change from everyone. As the individuals transform, the nation which comprises them will eventually change. Presenting his belief, Dr. K.K. Muhammad said that Vasudeva Kutumbakam is in its initial stage which will pave a path to a world where there will be no difference based on religion or caste. The panellists also agreed that to imbibe the principle of oneness the learning should be more experiential in nature. Furthermore, ancestral practices must be brought back to have a sustainable lifestyle. But it does not mean that it will always work. Thus, one should learn to adapt to the changes which could cause no harm to anyone. The C20 conference concluded with an invigorating panel discussion.

The cultural interludes presented in between by the students of CVV beautifully captured the essence of the conference. Through a jugalbandi dance the students portrayed the vasudhaiva kutumbakam as seen in Lord Shiva’s family where the lion, bull, mouse, snake and peacock co-existed harmoniously transcending their instincts. The rendition of “Maithreem Bhajata” composed by Paramacharya Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswati showcased the plea for universal brotherhood and peace. The poem composed by Ms. Kavita Varma urged the youth to follow the spirit of friendship as one marches forward ensuring earth to be a better and more beautiful place to live for everyone. The C20 conference in Kerala, on the whole, vividly presented critical deliberations on “Vasudheiva Kutumbakam”.