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“The World is One Family”: Visiting Indian Diplomat Calls for Tolerance and Inclusiveness

One of India’s most experienced diplomats, retired Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan, was honored September 8 at a lunch hosted by the International Religious Liberty Association. During his 37-year career in key diplomatic postings—including a stint as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations— Ambassador Sreenivasan has been a strong voice for human rights, tolerance, and religious freedom.

Ambassador Sreenivasan told guests at the lunch that “tolerance” and “inclusiveness” are two of fundamental pillars of civil society, and he used an old Sanskrit phrase, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”—or, “the world is one family”—to describe how people from different cultures or religions should relate to one another. 

The ambassador, who comes from the southern Indian state of Kerala, said his childhood home helped shape his appreciation for social diversity.

“Over the centuries, people from every religion of the world—Christian, Muslim, and others—came through Kerala in search of the spices that were so popular,” he said. “Today, Kerala—and India—is a composite culture. Many different cultures and religions are blended into the greater civilization, and this creates the rich diversity that is Indian society.”

Ambassador Sreenivasan said that the use of religion as a political tool is a danger that must be avoided at all costs, and warned that such a misuse of faith encourages hostility and competition between religions. 

The event took place at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, thanked Ambassador Sreenivasan for his contributions to the international community and for his support of religious freedom. Pastor Wilson noted that his father, former General Conference president Pastor Neal Wilson, had also enjoyed a long-standing friendship with Ambassador Sreenivasan and his wife. “We are grateful that you have maintained very cordial relationships with the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” said Pastor Wilson. “And we, in turn, hope that not only in the country of India, but throughout the world, the Adventist Church will continue to provide strong moral, cultural, educational, and humanitarian support wherever we are.”