Kumaratunga and the Shared Societies Project address the Challenges to Pluralism in South Asia

The colloquium, organized by the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI) in partnership with the Club de Madrid, in Collombo, Sri Lanka, addressed the issues of religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, secularism and pluralism in South Asia.Although secularism was also a topic at stake, there was a full agenda of inter- and intra-religious discussions, tackling topics as the relation between religion and politics, marginalization of religions and the woman´s role inside some religions.

Both President Kumaratunga and the Shared Societies Project Coordinator, Clem McCarteney, joined an international panel of four other eminent scholars. comprising Prof. Rajeev Bhargava (India), Prof. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka), Dr. Christophe Jaffrelot (France) and Asma Jahangir from Pakistan. Club de Madrid Members have identified the issue of inter-group relations, overcoming divisions and hostilities and building positive relations, as one of the most important challenges that they must highlight. From their own experience they had seen the costs of social divisions and economic and social exclusion. As a result of this, the Shared Societies Project was initiated in 2007 to provide current leaders and the wider society with greater understanding of the benefits of social inclusion and ways to bring it about.