The students of Symbiosis School of International Studies (SSIS) were invited to attend a lecture by Dr. Patrick McNamara (Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, University of Nebraska and Academic Director, Initiatives of Change, India) at the Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB).
Dr. McNamara has received his Ph.D. from the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska and holds a MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution along with a degree in religion with a focus on ethics and comparitive religion. He also posseses teaching expertise in the areas of conflict resolution and negotiation, sustainable development, social entrepreneurship, and civic leadership. He specializes in facilitating multi-party stakeholder processes with a focus on the intersection between public policy and natural resources management. He has focused on citizen engagement in state water planning processes and currently works on projects supported by a U.S. Institute of Peace grant, with teams in Kabul, Dushanbe, and Islamabad - on Transboundary Water Cooperation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan.
Patrick McNamara commenced the session with a unique perspective on India, calling it the "land of paradox". While admiring the rich diversity of the nation, he placed it in stark contrast to the widespread cases of caste discrimination seen today. Speakng about the desirable development models that need to be adopted, he noted that, “India must solve her own problems before looking outside." He stated his firm belief in promoting capacity building in young generations as the need of the hour. When asked about UN reforms, he stated that India and the other regional powers should be given a seat at United Nations Security Council. With regards to the questions posed by students on the upcoming Trump presidency, he termed the president-elect's nomination "a mistake" and disagreed with Donald Trump's position on leaving the Trans Pacific Partnership and cancelling the Paris Agreement. While expressing his deep concern about USA's domestic and national policies under the Trump administration, he made a point to mention that American relations are closer to India than Pakistan.
Coming to the issue of internal conflict in Afghanistan, Dr. McNamara conveyed his strong doubt about achieving peace in the troubled nation without a US partnership. Regional approach to peace in Afghanistan is good but that peace shouldn't be imposed from outside .
Coming to the crux of the session, he defined conflict as something that "is natural, it flows like water within us and between us." He elaborated on two aspects in this context - positions and interests. He described the former as statements made by people to start a conflict and defined the latter as the collective history, values, psychology and culture of the people. He proceeded to explain the Model for Conflict Resolution as "the bottom line", where interests are met and the place to build peace. Dr. McNamara also asserted his belief in making optimum and wise utilisation of water resources as a must for achieving stability. If Afghanistan and Pakistan could collaborate on a joint infrastructure project, it would be mutually beneficial as it could provide electricity to Pakistan and income to Afghanistan. This, according to him, formed the bottom line that needed dialogue and co-operation.
He concluded his talk with some profound words and encouraged the students present to take up efforts towards making "the world a more peaceful place to live in".
This was later followed by an interactive question and answer session between Dr. McNamara and the students.