Sri Sri headlines ‘Big Ideas for a Better India’ conference in Maryland

Speakers included Naveen Jain, Rajiv Malhotra.


By Global India Newswire

COLLEGE PARK, MD: There were the young and the old. Among them were students and professionals; activists and ideologues. They all came for just one purpose: discuss concrete ideas that they hope would transform India.

Rajiv Malhotra, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Naveen Jain answer questions from the audience at the "Big Ideas for a Better India” conference at University of Maryland on Sunday.
Rajiv Malhotra (left) , Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (center) and Naveen Jain at the “Big Ideas for a Better India” conference at University of Maryland on Sunday. Photo credit: Sirmukh S. Manku

The “Big Ideas for a Better India” conference, hosted by the nonprofit Overseas Volunteer for a Better India here at University of Maryland on Sunday, featured a bevy of Indian and Indian American luminaries, who discussed a number of ideas and initiatives in fields ranging from politics and spirituality to agriculture and economics.

The headliner of the day was spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living Foundation, an educational and humanitarian group. Indians need to bring “self-esteem back” and “take charge of their live,” he told the nearly thousand-strong attendees.

“People should have pride in their heritage” and “we need people with spiritual outlook,” he said.

Exhorting Indian Americans to adopt voluntarism and community service, he urged those in the audience to spend at least two weeks in India working among the poor.

Two other prominent speakers were entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain and author and philanthropists Rajiv Malhotra.

“There’s not a problem in the world you can’t solve, if you put your mind to it,” said Jain, founder of a number of companies including inome, InfoSpace and Moon Express.

Malhotra, author of Breaking India and Being Different, said India should discard its parliamentary system in favor of a presidential system. The current system, he argued, prevents from country from having a credible and strong government. He also recommended making national service mandatory for students before graduating from school.

Other speakers included Rajneesh Gupta, a member of the board of directors of the Overseas Volunteer for a Better India, Upendra J. Chivukula, Deputy Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, and Rajan Natarajan, Maryland Deputy Secretary of State for Policy and External Affairs.

A recorded video of former Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi was also played. Bedi said the big idea she is espousing is the transformation of Uttar Pradesh, the largest Indian state.

Voter registration in India was a big focus of the event, in anticipation of next year’s general elections. A new Android app called “Vote for a Better India” was also unveiled.

According to the organizers, this was the first major event hosted by the Overseas Volunteer for a Better India, which is an offshoot of Volunteer for a Better India.

To contact the author, email to

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.