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Secularism should foster harmony: US prof at Amity Symposium

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Amity Institute of Advanced Legal Studies organized an International Symposium on ‘Religion and Governance in a Secular State’ at the Amity Campus, Sector – 125, Noida.

While representing US in the legal symposium, Professor W. Cole Durham, Director, Bringham Young University, US, opined that secularism should not be a harsh word but a framework where people can live in harmony therefore conferences are being organized in Malaysia, Nepal, India and many parts of the globe to create religious harmony and governance which have equivalent importance. This kind of symposium provides opportunities to build partnerships between countries in educational and cultural aspects with due advancement in science and technology, where internet works wonder in bringing people closer. He added that their University is planning to build legal libraries of international standard with the help of web technology. It is also important to internalize and reflect the importance of each other’s life as religious freedom is very essential which will bring transformation in the Eastern European countries in the religious aspect.

Institutions can ignite minds to bring goodness to the society in an organized way. Religions remain phenomenally important for societies. Therefore, it is important to show respect to each other’s religion which will help everyone in life and develop our present and future commented Professor W. Cole Durham.

Inaugurating the Conference Dr. Ashok K. Chauhan, Founder President, Amity Group announced the opening of an “International Centre for Religion and Governance” which will be established under Amity Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

Welcoming and addressing the august gathering, Dr Chauhan, said that Amity would like to spread quality and virtues through its students who can bring marvelous result of societal peace and harmony in the country. To respect each other’s religion is one of India’s greatest strengths. Religion and governance are equally important. Therefore, the political leaders, bureaucrats and the administrative heads of the country should be spiritual. He hoped that the symposium should leave a sustainable effect and the legal system of India and US can develop new theories and laws, through innovation, self-confidence and creativity.

Prof. Tahir Mahmood, Director, Amity Institute of Advanced Legal Studies presented the guidelines of the legal symposium in his inaugural address. He said, “The symposium marks the intellectual confluence of two democracies, namely, America and India. There will be discussions and deliberations on law, religion and state during the day long symposium. Now, it is law that deters a state. Therefore, the concept of secularism is gaining importance in societies. India is a unique Nation state which cannot discriminate between different religions and its followers. India is a modern democratic nation, yet prescribing spirituality. The Indian democracy is trying hard to keep perfect harmony between religion and governance. Today, our hunger and thirst for knowledge has brought us together to discuss and share our experiences on this platform.”

While sharing his thoughts, Maj. Gen. K. Jai Singh, Vice Chancellor, Amity University Uttar Pradesh said, “it is an honour for Amity to hold a symposium of international stature. The topic ‘Religion and Governance in a Secular State’ is important in context of India since there is vast cultural diversity. Governance possesses many problems. Therefore, religious tolerance can be established with laws and various policies which are adaptable. India’s secularism propagates all the religions. Conscious and deliberate avoidance of hatred for each other’s religion are to be shunned. The governance on the other hand should focus on value based and right type of education. Judgmental value of a person develops through proper education.”

Sharing his views, Professor Brett G. Scharffs, Associate Professor Bringham Young University said, “we have gathered in the symposium to share our experiences and exchange ideas in the legal aspect. There is dynamism in the growth and development of India which is praiseworthy. Value based education is essential for the progress of a country. We also believe in the history of modern idealism by the great visionaries of the countries. Therefore, we act on the fact that by seeking true devotion in teaching our dreams of making our enterprises bigger can be fulfilled. The topic ‘Religion and Governance in a Secular State’ is very significant as issues of the jurisdictional space are essential. The discussions and deliberations of the symposium by both the countries would prove fruitful.

Professor Johan van der Vyver : Pretoria, South Africa spoke on the work, values and ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi. Professor Johan appreciated the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma’s voice for apartheid and caste system, his fight for injustice and social evils for the Indians in South Africa are praiseworthy. As a child Professor Johan witnessed Mahatma Gandhi and his followers sitting in Satyagraha, protesting for the social injustices silently without harming anyone.

In his address, Professor John C. Reitz : Iowa, US said, “the American legal population has not paid much attention to India. But currently it is felt that for research in the legal arena we need to look toward India. It is a major push in US to focus on hiring lawyers from various parts of the globe including India.”

During the day discussions and deliberations on Transformative Law as a Tool for Governance: Developing Support for Judicial Independence - Prof John C. Reitz (Iowa, US); Rethinking Tension between Judicial Independence and Accountability: Role of Court structure - Prof David Pimentel (Sarajevo, Bosnia –Herzegovina); Sovereignty of Religious Institutions in a Secular State: A South African Experience - Prof. Johan van der Vyer (Pretoria, South Africa); Secular Harzards to Secularity: How Erosion of Religious Freedom Threatens Secular State - Prof. W. Cole Durham,(BYU, US); Comparative Perspectives on Governance and Minority Rights - Prof. Jenik Radon (Columbia, US); Secularism and Secularity: Two Competing Frameworks for Constitutional Analysis - Prof. Brett G. Scharffs (BYU, US) and Web Tools to Enhance Law and Religion Studies - Mr. Marshall R. Morrise (BYU, US)


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First Published: Tue, May 10 2011. 14:31 IST