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 Vice President?s Address at Prague Security Studies Institute, Prague, Chezch Republic
Monday, June 7, 2010 More News...

Prague: Following is the text of the address by the  Vice President of India, Mr. M. Hamid Ansari on the theme "Challenges of Global Governance in the 21st century" organised by the Prague Security Studies Institute(PSSI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prague, Czech Republic today :

"Challenges of Global Governance in the 21st century"

 "I claim to be resident of a city of considerable antiquity. It is one of eight cities built successively on the same stretch of land on the banks of a river. I, therefore, cannot but be fascinated by another city of ancient vintage. Legend has it that the founding deity of Prague visualised 'a large town whose glory shall reach the stars'. The beauty and architectural splendour I see here testify to this prophesy.

 Geography and history have bestowed on Prague a centrality that is evident. It has for centuries witnessed ideological and political contestations in central Europe and is today an active participant in the making of a new Europe.

 For all these reasons it gives me great pleasure to be here today at the Prague Security Studies Institute. The Institute's formidable reputation for contributing to policy debates makes it an appropriate venue to think aloud and explore policy options for the world of tomorrow. I thank the Institute for inviting me to address this distinguished gathering today.

Ours is an era of great change - political, economic and technological. Humankind has benefited from it, though in unequal measure. Some live in affluence and prosperity unmatched in history; others are less fortunate. The levels of disparity between peoples, nations and societies are starker than ever before.

 The impact of change is pervasive. Concepts, values and systems are in flux. The sanctity of the Westphalian Order of State sovereignty has been dented by international covenants and practices. Globalisation has accelerated it by the imperatives of what the historian Philip Bobbitt has called the 'Market State'; technology has added to it. Clarity nevertheless evades us; the sociologist Anthony Giddens has described the present day world as "puzzling, strange, elliptical" in which 'we are far from being fully in control of the forces we have unleashed'.

 It is evident that we need a new global consensus, a new paradigm for assessing performance.

 Many in this audience would recall that in 1992 Vaclav Havel had called for a redefinition of modernity. 'Man's attitude to the world', he said, 'must be radically changed'. He then went on to elaborate the concept:

 It is my profound conviction that we have to release from the  sphere of private whim such forces as natural, unique and unrepeatable experience of the world, an elementary sense of justice, the ability to see things as others do, a sense of  transcendental responsibility, archetypal wisdom, good taste, courage, compassion and faith in the importance of particular measures that do not aspire to be a universal key to salvation. Such forces must be rehabilitated.

I concede it may not be altogether easy to implement such a vision in its totality. Nevertheless, today we have the objective conditions for economic and political emancipation of a majority of humanity since technology and political evolution have exponentially multiplied the strands of connection, movement and circulation between States of peoples, ideas, goods and services.

 We are also in a better position than ever before to suggest for observance, norms of social behaviour appropriate for the requirements of the age, remembering Aristotle's dictum that moral virtue does not emanate from nature and has to be imbibed by habit. 

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