I will speak briefly of the ways in which our world is in tumult. The prospects of a life with dignity and security have become increasingly precarious if you are a minority of any kind, whether in terms of religion, race, ethnicity, caste, class, or gender. The consequences of unconscionable levels of inequality both between and within nations are catastrophic. At the core of this resistance to the world we live in—with frighteningly diminishing freedoms, widening inequalities, and surging hate—must be to create courageous, compassionate, and radically new imaginations of our collective futures. These require that we nurture ideas of solidarity, fraternity, social care, and radical love. I will illustrate some examples of these radical new imaginations.
Harsh Mander is a human rights and peace worker, writer, columnist, researcher, and teacher. He is the chairperson of the Centre for Equity Studies, in Delhi, which is devoted to the analysis and development of public policy for the rights of disadvantaged groups. In the autumn of 2017, he established Karwan e Mohabbat, an initiative to promote healing in families who have lost loved ones to violence. He is also the founder of Aman Biradari, a campaign for the defence of secularism and the creation of a just and humane world in response to the 2002 Gujarat riots. He has served the Indian government in various capacities, including as a member of the Prime Minister’s National Advisory Council and as Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food case, and he has launched various legal and community initiatives to help the homeless and the poor. He holds a PhD from Vrije University in Amsterdam and is a Distinguished Scholar in the research initiative Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights, at UC Berkeley’s Centre for Race and Gender. He teaches courses on poverty and governance at universities in India and abroad. In 2021–2022, he was a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.