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INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE

The knowledge hub



IIC is hard to slot. It isn't a sporting club, it isn't a social club, so what exactly does it do? Some of that confusion, says its director Dr Kavita A Sharma, is because the IIC isn't really a club at all but an intellectual and cultural centre which is meant to help this country understand others better, and vice versa, and "to work towards world peace".

But wishing and hoping for peace on earth and actually smoothening international relations are two very different things. Does Sharma think the centre, the idea of which first came up in 1958 in conversation between the then vice-president Dr S Radhakrishnan and John D Rockefeller III, has had any success achieving its objective?

"Well, yes, " says Sharma. She adds that their job is the creation and the dissemination of knowledge - the four broad topics the centre encourages discussion of are health, education, science and technology, and governance - and the hope is that both the policymakers and the public will listen to what is said at the centre, and incorporate some of it.

Pandit Nehru said pretty much the same thing at the centre's inauguration in 1962. ". . . The world today is so constituted that there can be no escape from international cooperation. . . This international centre will, of course, not change the nature of the world, but it will help in the process, which is very essential today. "

The centre has certainly forced people to listen to it. In the past, prominent men and women who have spoken at the centre have included Henry Kissinger, Shimon Peres, Lee Kuan Yew and Pearl S Buck, among many others. Its members too have been a veritable who's who of the intelligentsia. They have included CD Deshmukh, the first Indian governor of the RBI, the freedom fighter Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, and APJ Abdul Kalam. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also been a member.
The centre's talks and the other cultural and educational programmes that it hosts are open to the public - not just to its 6, 700 members.

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