Most Ven. Prof. Dr. Thich Nhat Tu is the Vice Chairman, National Department of International Buddhist Affairs, National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha. He is also the Founding Vice Chairman of International Alliance for Buddhist Cultural Exchange, Hongkong, and a Founding Member of International Buddhist Confederation, India. Amongst his many accomplishments, he has formerly been Vice Secretary General of Vietnam Buddhist University Council, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC); the Vice Secretary General of Vietnam Buddhist Research Institute; Executive Member of the HCMC Buddhist Sangha; the Secretary General of the Buddhist Culture Department of HCMC Buddhist Sangha; Deputy Rector of Vietnam Buddhist University, HCMC; Chairman of the Department of Buddhist Philosophy, Vietnam Buddhist University; Vice Chairman of National Department of International Buddhist Affairs, National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (NVBS); and the Deputy Secretary of International Organizing Committee of United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV), Vietnam (2019). Most Ven. Prof. Dr. Thich Nhat Tu holds a PhD from Allahabad University and has taught more than 3000 students at Vietnam Buddhist University, HCMC, as well as several other Buddhist schools and monasteries across Vietnam. He has also authored more than eighty books in Vietnamese and English on Buddhist philosophy, applied Buddhism and Buddhist chanting. He is also the Editor-in-Chief and publisher of Buddhism Today book series, which include more than 200 volumes on different subjects have been published in Vietnamese to meet the needs of researchers and practitioners. He has received several international awards in recognition of his work, including the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University, Cambodia (2019); the Vietnamese Fatherland Front’s Award (2019); Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Award (2019); and the Global Buddhist Reformer Award by the Alliance of Buddhist Leaders, Thailand (2017).
His Excellency Prof. Dr. SON Soubert is High Privy Councillor to His Majesty the King of Cambodia since 2010. As an educator, politician, and humanitarian, he has a long record of involvement in the political life of the Kingdom of Cambodia, his home country. Having been second Vice-President of the National Assembly, he was also appointed to the Constitutional Council by His Majesty the King of Cambodia and served as Vice-President of the Cambodian Red Cross. Among other positions, he was Secretary General of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLAF), a founder of the Khmer Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP), and President of the Son Sann Party and a member of Parliament during the takeover of the administration by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia in 1992-1993. Educated in archaeology and classics in France, His Excellency Prof. Dr. SON Soubert was Professor at the Faculty of Archaeology of the Royal University for Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. He received the Ordre des Palmes for Culture for his major contributions to French education and culture.
Prof. Jagbir Singh is the Chancellor of the Central University of Punjab, Bathinda. He is also an Advisor, of the Centre on Studies in Guru Granth Sahib, Amritsar; a Member of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla (nominated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India); and a Life Fellow of the Punjabi University, Patiala. Formerly, he was the Head of the Department of Punjabi, University of Delhi, and also an Adjunct Professor, at the Department of Religious and Civilizational Studies, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) World University, Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab. Prof. Singh has over 50 years of experience in teaching and research on Gurbani, Folklore, Fiction, Literary Theory, and Religious and Civilizational Studies. He has received several awards for his work such as the Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar Award, Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab (2016); Param Sahit Satkar Sanman, Punjabi Academy, Delhi (2014); and Guru Nanak Dev Achievers Award, Government of Punjab (2019) amongst others. He has also contributed with his scholarship to several large research projects including the Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi) (Contributor); History of Punjabi Literature (Punjabi Academy, Delhi) (Contributor); Encyclopaedia of Indian Poetics (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi) (Contributor); and Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, published by Rupa) (Associate Editor).
Tan Sri Dato’ Ajit Singh was born and educated in Malaysia and joined the Malaysian Foreign Service in 1963. In a career spanning over 30 years, he served in various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at Malaysian Missions abroad in Canberra, Addis Ababa, and New York. He was Malaysia’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Austria, Brazil, (with concurrent accreditation to Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela) and Germany. He was elected as the first Secretary-General of ASEAN in 1993. In recognition of his services, both Laos and Vietnam awarded him their prestigious Friendship Medals in December 1997. He was also awarded the Panglima Setia Mahkota award, which carries the title of “Tan Sri” by His Majesty the King of Malaysia. The Indonesian Government awarded him the “Bintang Jasa Utama” in February 1999 in recognition of his work in ASEAN and in helping to improve Malaysia – Indonesia relations. Since then, he has worked worked as Director, International Business Ventures of the National Petroleum Oil Company, PETRONAS; the first Secretary General of the Boao Forum of Asia, a non-governmental, non-profit organization set up to promote greater interdependence and economic integration of the Asian region; Distinguished Research Fellow at the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) of the University of Malaysia; Chairman of the Nam Fatt Corporation, a publicly listed development and construction company; Principal Adviser for ASEAN to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI); Advisor to the Malaysia-India Business Council; Member of the government established Malaysia-India CEO Forum; and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MERCY Malaysia. He was also selected as one of the 4 icons who have rendered distinguished service to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wisma Putra) and the nation.
Dr. Nitin Shah is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at Loma Linda University Health, California. He is also an Interim Deputy Chief of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center, Long Beach, CA. He is Founding President and a Board Member of Anekant Community Center. He is a Past President of Jain Center of Southern California, and Chair of the Academic Liaison Committee (ALC) of the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA). ALC has helped establish Jain education in over 30 universities in the last 12 years. Passionate about organizing humanitarian missions including medical, surgical, vision and dental care around the world, he has organized over 400 such missions in 16 countries.
Prof. Amarjiva Lochan teaches at the University of Delhi and is Joint Dean, International Relations. He is the Foreign Students Advisor of the University. He is also a member of the Governing Council, India Centre for Migration (ICM), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Recently, he was appointed as the Advisor for Buddhist Projects, at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Government of India. Prof. Lochan also serves the Ministry of Culture and Education, Government of India, in various capacities. He looks into the issues of the Indian diaspora with special reference to the region of Southeast Asia, Indic elements in Southeast Asia, and contemporary Buddhism. Prof. Lochan has been President, of the South, and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR) and has been appointed as the Vice President of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) under the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH), UNESCO. He is also a Visiting Professor in academic institutions in five different countries and has traveled to 84 countries for academic work such as field visits, research projects, special lectures, and curriculum upgradation and development.
Jaya Krishnakumar is a Full Professor of Econometrics at the Faculty of Economics and Management (GSEM) of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is also a Visiting Professor at Madras School of Economics, Chennai, India since 2006. She holds a Ph. D. in “Econometrics and Statistics” from the University of Geneva. She has been an Invited Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, as well as a Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Bolivia, University of Tunis, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include panel data econometrics, multivariate models, and econometric models for multi-dimensional well-being and poverty analysis. She has many publications in the form of articles in international econometrics/economics journals such as Econometric Theory, Journal of Econometrics, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, Journal of Public Economics, World Development, European Economic Review, Health Economics, Review of Income and Wealth, Social Indicators Research, and Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. She has written, edited, and contributed chapters in Econometrics books published by Springer, Elsevier, and Kluwer Academic. She has also contributed chapters in the Handbook of the Capability Approach (Cambridge University Press, CUP) and New Frontiers of the Capability Approach (CUP). She was the Director of the Department of Econometrics, University of Geneva from 2007 to 2010, and Director of the CUSO Doctoral Program in Economics and Econometrics (ECONDOC), a joint programme of the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel and Fribourg, Switzerland from 2005 to 2008. She is regularly invited to be an expert for evaluating project proposals submitted to the Swiss National Science Foundation and European Funding programmes. She has participated in many international conferences both as a speaker and as a session chairperson. She is a Fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association, and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. She is a regular member of the Advisory Panel for the Human Development Reports of the UNDP and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Multidimensional Biodiversity Index project of UNEP-WCMC. She has been a member of the academic experts panel for World Bank’s Women, Business and The Law Index 2019, as well as an Advisor for the SDG Action Manager launched by B-Lab along with the UN Global Compact in 2020. In addition to her academic work, she is a member of the Indian Association of Geneva, the Vedantic Centre, Geneva, and the Geneva Interreligious Platform. She has represented Hindu traditions in several inter-religious debates on Swiss Television and Radio, and in round-table discussions organized by the Interreligious Platform of Geneva. Founder of the Vishishtadvaita Group of Switzerland, she conducts the weekly satsangs of this group, devoted to learning Hindu philosophy.
Prof. Kusum Jain has been associated with the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, and has held several positions since she started teaching there in 1975. She has been the Head of the Department of Philosophy; Dean, of the Faculty of Arts; and the Director, of the Post Graduate School of Humanities. In addition, she has also been the Director, of the Center of Advanced Studies, University Grants Commission; and a member of the Governing Council of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), New Delhi. Her major research interests are Indian Philosophy, Socio-Political, Legal, Moral Philosophy, and Applied Ethics. She has published widely on Human Rights, Alternative Models of Development, Bio-Ethical issues, Roots of Terrorism, the Relationship between Economic Structures and Cultural Values, etc., and has been an invited speaker at various international conferences around the globe. She was a member of the editorial board of the Encyclopedia of Non-Violence and the Encyclopedia of Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) published by the Prakrit Bharati Academy, Jaipur.
Ven. Bhikkhuni Dhammananda was ordained as the first Theravada bhikkhuni in Thailand in 2003 and has been engaged in giving education on ordination for women and training for monastic life since 1984. She is also Professor Emeritus at Thammasat University, Bangkok, where she taught Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy for 27 years (1973-2000). Ven. Bhikkhuni Dhammananda has translated 27 books on Tibetan Buddhism, including His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s autobiography, Freedom in Exile, and is the author and translator of more than 100 books. She has also been deeply engaged with television and print media through her regular writings and talks on Dharma-related themes. Her life and work have been recognized through several national and international awards including the Tara Award (2012) and Sakyamuni Award (2012). She has been participating regularly in international conferences on the interface between Buddhism, the environment, and women, since 1973.
Hinduism is inherently an ecological religion. Centuries before the appearance of the word ecology or the concept of environmental management, Hindu scriptures instructed us that the animals and plants found in the land of Bharatavarsha are sacred; that like humans, our fellow creatures, including plants have consciousness; and therefore all aspects of nature are to be revered. This understanding, care, and reverence towards the environment are common to all Indic religious and spiritual systems: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Thus, there is ample evidence to show that the earliest messages about the importance of the environment and the need for ecological balance and harmony can be found in ancient Indic texts.