Concept Note

The quest for sustainable pathways to development and peace has dominated the trajectory of development thought and practice for over six decades. Soon after the end of colonial rules, with the onset of nation-building, the development community embarked on capital-intensive projects and programmes aimed at modernization and industrialization with the objective of bringing prosperity to humanity that had been impoverished by the devastations of the World War 2. With economic growth as the overriding aim,  the development experts then moved on to modernization in the field of agriculture, bringing innovations in technology such as the Green Revolution and the White Revolution, which resulted in enhanced agricultural and dairy productions saving millions from hunger and starvation. Though successful to some extent, the gap between the rich and the poor continued unabated. Youth from rural areas migrated to urban settlements resulting in break-down of social cohesion. The analysis of these measures moved the development community towards more direct attempts made at poverty alleviation and participatory development involving community action. Many lessons were learnt, some improvements were made. Yet the stark reality of development was that in spite of all methods, approaches, strategies, research and analysis the goal of bringing some level of material prosperity to the vast majority of human beings remained elusive.


Letter of Invitation

Dear Sir/Madam,

It is becoming increasingly clear that passage to the culminating stage in the millennia long process of the organization of the planet as one home for the entire human family cannot be accomplished in a spiritual vacuum. Religion, the Baha'i Scriptures aver, "is the source of illumination, the cause of development and the animating impulse of all human advancement"  and  "has been the basis of all civilization and progress in the history of mankind." It is the source of meaning and hope for the vast majority of the planet's inhabitants, and it has a limitless power to inspire sacrifice, change and long-term commitment in its followers. It is, therefore, inconceivable that a peaceful and prosperous global society - a society which nourishes a spectacular diversity of cultures and nations - can be established and sustained without directly and substantively involving the world's great religions in its design and support.

Report 2016

Moving Beyond Religious Co-existence – Towards an Inclusive, Transformed Society

A report of the 6th International Interfaith Conference of CMS – August 2016

The participants of the 6th International Interfaith Conference, gathered in City Montessori School, Lucknow, from 11-13 August 2016 and focused their deliberations on four themes in order to contribute to the burgeoning discourse on the role of religion in the establishment of inclusive, transformed societies:

  • The role of religion in socio-economic development and social change
  • Moving beyond religious co-existence towards acceptance and respect for diversity
  • Religious exclusivity –vs. - oneness of religion: Religious pluralism and the concept of common good
  • The role of youth as protagonists of social transformation

Distinguished speakers shared their thoughts at the inaugural and during the twelve sessions of the conference. They included among others Hon’ble Minister for Minority Affairs of the State of Uttar Pradesh, Jinab Azam Khan, Hon’ble Justice (Dr.) Adel Omar Sherif, the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of Egypt and the Chief Advisor of the Conference, Hon’ble Justice Graciela J. Dixon, Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Justice, Panama, Ambassador Michel De Salaberry, Former Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canada; Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador, Indian Foreign Service, India; Prof. Amitabh Kundu, Former member, National Statistical Commission of the Government of India, Padamshree Dr. Janak Palta McGiliigan, Social Worker, Indore, India, Mrs. Zena Sorabjee, Vice-Chairperson, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of India; Ms Naznene Rowhani, Member, National Assembly of the Bahais of India,  Ms Jannatual Maoa, Department of World Religions and Culture, Dhaka University, Bangladesh; Ms Hadiseh Bateni, from Iran; Dr Jagdish Gandhi and Dr Bharti Gandhi, the Founders of City Montessori School, Lucknow, CMS President and COO, Professor Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, and several others whose wisdom and sagacity made the deliberations extremely fruitful. Student animators from various branches of CMS as well as teachers coordinating Face to Faith activities made presentations.


Dr Jagdish Gandhi & Dr Bharti Gandhi

Founder-Manager & Founder-Director

First of all we wish to congratulate Mrs Aditi Sharma for organizing the International Interfaith Conference for bringing unity of religions with a view to create permanent cordiality and understanding between people of different faiths.

Prof Geeta Kingdon

President & Chief Operating Officer

It is puzzling and paradoxical that religion – whose whole existence is meant to promote care for others – has become today one of the most formidable obstacles to peace because it is now identified as an important source of unrest and violence in the world.

Ms Susmita Basu

Head, Quality Assurance and Innovations Department

As believers, we all have an opportunity and moral obligation to recognize our spiritual common ground; to rise above our differences; to combat prejudice and intolerance.

Message by The Hon’ble Mr Justice Dr. Dr. (h.c.) Adel Omar Sherif

Member, Advisory Committee, Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Constitutional Court, Egypt

It is with great pleasure that I am sending out this message, on the occasion of hosting the 7th International Interfaith Conference (IIC), on the “Role of Religion in Development”, by the City Montessori School, Lucknow.

Mrs Aditi Sharma

Principal, CMS, Chowk Campus &
Former Principal, Asharfabad Campus Lucknow

We take great pleasure in inviting you to participate in the 7th International Interfaith Conference, 2017 on The Role of Religion in Development being organized by City Montessori School, Asharfabad Campus, Lucknow, India from 12th August 2017 to 14th August 2017

Mrs Trapti Dwivedi

Convenor (IIC) &
Principal, CMS, Asharfabad Campus, Lucknow

We take immense pleasure in inviting you to participate in the 7th InternationalInterfaith Conference, 2017 on The Role of Religion in Development being organized by CMS, Asharfabad Campus and Head Office, Lucknow, India from 12th August 2017 to 14th August 2017

Mrs Farida Vahedi

Coordinator (IIC) & Head, Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building

The changes taking place in every aspect of life on this planet are such that no previous era has ever witnessed. Hitherto undreamt of possibilities are becoming the basic requirements of life today. These changes and crises afflicting the world arise out of humanity’s collective growth.


List of Speakers

  1. Hon. Justice Dr. Adel Omar Hafez Sherif
  2. Dr Iraj Abedian
  3. Prof Nathan J. Brown
  4. Dr. Muin Afnani
  5. Prof. Siraj Khan
  6. Ms. Tahirih Danesh
  7. Prof. Dr. Md. Iqbal Hossain
  8. Ms Zena Sorabjee
  9. Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar
  10. Padamshree Dr. Janak Palta Mcgilligan
  11. Prof Tahir Mahmood
  12. Dr. John Dayal
  13. Dr. M. D. Thomas
  14. Prof.(Dr.)Virendra Goswami
  15. Ms Padmini Biswas
  16. Dr. Jagdish Gandhi
  17. Prof Geeta Gandhi Kingdon
  18. Mrs. Farida Vahedi

Religious Representatives

  1. Mahant Divya Giri Ji (Hinduism)
  2. Bishop Gerald John Mathias (Christianity)
  3. Maulana Khanlid Rasheed (Sunni Islam)
  4. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq (Shiya Islam)
  5. Shri Rajendra Bagga (Sikhism)
  6. Dr. Ven Sumedh (Buddhism)
  7. Mrs. B. Mohajer (Bahai)
  8. Bhikshu Pragyanand Ji (Buddhism)


Hon. Justice Dr. Dr. h.c. Adel Omar Sherif
Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt

Dr. Dr. h.c. Adel Omar Sherif is the Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. He also serves as a Vice President of the International Judicial Academy in Washington, D.C. USA.

Ms Zena Sorabjee
Vice Chairman, National Spiritual Assembly of Bahá'ís of India
Founder: Brilliant Stars School, Tripura, India
Member, IIC Advisory Committee

Ms Zena Sorabjee currently serves as the Vice-Chairperson of the elected Governing Body of the two million strong Bahá'ís community.She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Madhya Pradesh.

Professor Geeta Gandhi Kingdon

Geeta Gandhi Kingdon is Professor at the Institute of Education, University College London, where she holdstheChair of Education Economics and International Development. Prior to this, she was Research Fellow for 11 years at the Department of Economics, University of Oxford.

Prof Nathan J. Brown

Nathan Brown received his B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. in politics and Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. He teaches courses on Middle Eastern politics, as well as more general courses on comparative politics and international relations.

Prof. Siraj Khan

Since 6/2015, Siraj Khan is Country Manager, Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law. Before 2015, he served there as a Research Fellow.

From 2011 to 2013, he served as Board Member – Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, SLCC, Scotland (United Kingdom)

Dr Iraj Abedian

Graduate of University of Cape Town (UCT) and holds Phd in Economics from Simon Fraser University, Canada. He taught at UCT for over 18 Years and was Professor of Economics at UCT before joining Standard Bank as Group Chief Economist in 2000.

Ms Tahirih Danesh

Tahirih Danesh is a Human Rights Researcher and Documenter specialising in the case of minorities in Iran and women throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr Muin Afnani

Muin Afnani, along with his wife Soheila and their children live in northern California.

His professional career is in the field of Electronics Engineering with graduate studies and years of management focused on Semiconductor technology and Nano-technology development.

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar
IFS (Retd.)
President, Institute of Global Studies
Former Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia
Former Secretary/Principal Executive Officer,
National Foundation for Communal Harmony

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, a Postgraduate in Physics from Delhi University and a career diplomat, has served as Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia.

Padamshree Dr. Janak Palta Mcgilligan
Dr (Mrs) Janak Palta McGilligan, is the only Indian Women who was conferred Padma Shri award in the area of Social Service in 2015

A social worker, social scientist and a committed environmentalist has served more than 1000 rural communities of India for more than last 31 years.

Prof Tahir Mahmood

Tahir Mahmood is an Indian legal scholar and author of a large number of books frequently cited in the judgments of the Supreme Court of India and numerous High Courts. He had his higher legal education in Aligarh and London and has over fifty years of academic experience.

Dr John Dayal

Dr. John Dayal is one of India’s foremost voices on human rights and particularly the situation of religious minorities. He is a member of several governmental bodies, including the National Integration Council.

Mrs Farida Vahedi
Head, Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building
City Montessori School (CMS) Education Society, Lucknow, India

Since 1996 Farida Vahedi has been focusing on the empowerment of youth and women for social transformation and community building through formal educational institutions, development organizations as well as in neighbourhoods and communities in both urban and rural settings.

Proposed Themes for Discussion

The main theme of the conference is:

“The Role of Religion in Development”.

The sessions will discuss the following broad themes:

  1. Education
  2. Gender equality
  3. Governance
  4. Religious co-existence and inclusive societies
  5. Appropriate Technology
  6. Economic Activity

Paper Submission Guidelines

  1. Prospective presenters are requested to send their manuscript along with an abstract of the same to the organizers at the email id given below:
  2. The manuscript should contain the title, complete presentation, its abstract (synopsis) and short profile of the presenter.
  3. The presentation must be in English, the official language of the conference.
  4. The paper which will be received would be evaluated by the jury members, who would select the best few for presentation on the 12th to 14th August, 2017. Last date for submitting Abstract is 30th July 2017. Word limit for Abstract is 250-300 words.
  5. The candidates whose papers will be selected for presentation would be informed well in advance about the same.

Genenal Information about the Conference

  1. It will be our pleasure to provide hospitality free of cost to all outstation participants which includes Boarding and lodging & transport to and from the airport/railway station.
  2. Accommodation for the participants will be available on first come first served and Twin Sharing basis.
  3. Railway or Airfare etc. will be borne by the participants.
  4. Outstation Participants will be required to supply the organizers with complete travel details in advance, so that arrangements can be made for their boarding, lodging and transport.
  5. A counter would be set up at the Lucknow Airport and Railway Station for the assistance of the participants.
  6. The average temperature in August ranges between 30 & 35 degrees centigrade.
  7. The Venue for the conference is World Unity Convention Centre which is a part of a larger complex of CMS LDA Colony, Kanpur Road, Lucknow. This five storied building has its own kitchen, bedrooms with all modern amenities, elevator, Swimming pool, Conference Halls and an auditorium to accommodate 3000 persons. Communication Centre and Internet facilities will be available. The School is situated in the western part of Lucknow. It is located about 6 kms from the Lucknow Railway Station (also called Charbagh Railway Station) and about 3 kms from Lucknow Airport which is also called Lucknow Amausi Airport.
  8. The official working language of the conference is English.
  9. Doctor will visit the venue daily and will be on call for the duration of the conference.
  10. A help desk with efficient officials will be functioning for assistance round the clock.
  11. There is no registration or participation fee. Kindly mail us the registration form latest by 30th July 2017 and travel form by 5th August, 2017. You can also register yourself on our website by clicking here.


Registration Form

30th July 2017

Register Now

Travel Form

5th August, 2017

Register Now


World Unity Convention Center (WUCC), CMS Kanpur Road Campus, LDA Colony
Kanpur Road, Lucknow INDIA.
Phone: +91-522-2262013
Fax: -91-522-2638008, 2635497

Contact Us

Mrs Farida Vahedi

Coordinator - IIC and
Head, Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building
City Montessori School
Mobile No: +91-9792840575

Mrs Trapti Dwivedi

Convenor - IIC and
Principal of CMS Asharfabad Campus
Unity Building, Lucknow, India
Phone No: +91-522-22653661
Fax No: +91-522-2638008, 2635497
Mobile No: +91-9450464252