The World Culture Festival in Berlin
Olympiastadion Berlin 2nd & 3rd July 2011
An unforgettable Celebration of dance, music, dialogue and meditation.

Reception Committee

  • Prof. Ruud Lubbers (more info)
    Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
  • Dr. Thuwayba Al Barwani
    Dean, Sultan Qaboos University
  • Mr. Danny Davis
    Hon. Congressman, US Congress
  • Mrs. Erna Hennicot-Schoepges (more info)
    Member of the European Parliament
  • Mr. Nirj Deva (more info)
    Member of the European Parliament
  • Prof. Dr. Ahmet Akgündüz
    President Islamic University Rotterdam
  • Ms. Monika Griefahn (more info)
    Board Member, Right Livelihood Award
  • Ms. Indu Jain
    Chairperson, Times of India Group; Bennett, Coleman & Co
  • Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal (more info)
    Minister for Coal, Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India
  • Mrs. Jolanta Kwasniewska (more info)
    Former First Lady of Poland
  • Mr. Ram Labhaya Lakhina (more info)
    Founder, President The Netherlands India Chamber of Commerce and Trade (NICCT), Chairman Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Foundation
  • Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis
    Former Prime Minister of Lithuania
  • Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald
    Former President International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, The Hague
  • Ms. Erika Mann (more info)
    Former Member of the European Parliament
  • Dr. Mihail Mihailov
    Member of Bulgarian Parliament
  • Mrs. Nancy Pelosi
    Hon. Congresswoman, US Congress
  • Mr. Christopher Pinto
    President Iran-US Claims Tribunal
  • Mr. Mike Quigley
    Hon. Congressman, US Congress
  • Mr. Madhu Rao (more info)
    CEO Shangri-La Hotel Group International
  • Mr. Peleg Reshef
    Director, the Future Generations Division, World Jewish Congress
  • Rabbi David Rosen (more info)
    International Director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee
  • Mr. Jacques Santer (more info)
    Former Prime Minister Luxemburg, Former President of the European Commission
  • Mrs. Jan Schakowsky
    Hon. Congresswoman, US Congress
  • Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan (more info)
    Founder Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance
  • Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp (more info)
    Former President of the European region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Dutch chair of the Solidarity Committee for Jews
  • Mr. Josef Winkler
    Member of German Parliament, Board Member Green Party
  • Mr. Vladislav G. Yurchick
    Member of the Russian Federation Parliament, and Permanent Representative of Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the EurAsEC (Eurasian Economic Community)

Reception Committee Profiles

Prof. Ruud Lubbers

Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Ruud Lubbers was Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1982 to 1994, leading three successive governments, making him the longest-serving post-war premier. During his terms, he was influential in building Europe into what it is today. He was also the key figure in introducing the 'Dutch Model', which led to the successful turn-around of the Dutch economy. After that, he was the 9th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, from 2001 until February 2005.

A graduate of The Netherland's School of Economics, Ruud Lubbers' career began by managing the family business. He joined the Dutch Government in 1973 as Minister of Economic Affairs and continued as Senior Deputy Leader of the Christian Democratic Alliance.

After leaving politics, he taught university courses on globalization and sustainable development at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and as a visiting professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was instrumental in contributing to the success of The Earth Charter.

Mr. Jacques Santer

Former Prime Minister Luxemburg, Former President of the European Commission

Dr. Jacques Santer is a Member of the European Parliament, Luxembourg for the Parti Chrétien Social. He studied law at the universities of Strasbourg and Paris, and attended the Institute of Political Science in Paris. In 1975 he became a Member of the European Parliament, and in 1984 was elected Luxembourg's Prime Minister, serving three successive terms in office to 1995.

Entering politics, he became the President of the Supervisory Board of Christian Labour Union in 1969 and has held several key positions in the political arena since then, some of which include: Parliamentary secretary of the PCS Group (1966-1972); Secretary-General of the PCS (1972-1974); National President of the PCS (1974-1982); Chairman of the Christian trade unions monitoring committee (1969-1972); President of the EPP (1987-1990); Member of the Chamber of Deputies (1974-1979). Dr. Santer also holds several distinguished honors which include Grand Cross of: the Order of the Legion of Honour (France); the Order of Merit (Germany and Italy); the Order of Leopold II (Belgium); the Crown of Oak (Luxembourg); the Order of Adolphe of Nassau (Luxembourg); the Order of Malta and other decorations.

Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal

Minister for Coal, Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India

"I am pleased to know that the Art of Living Foundation is planning to organize an event in Berlin in March 2011 to mark the thirty glodous years of its existence. The Foundation has been playing a defining role in the lives of the millions of people all over the world. Though the Foundation has its genesis in India, it has been spreading the message of good health, harmony in diversity and espousing inter-cultural dialogue in more than 151 countries around the world. I am happy to note the names of several luminaries contributing their mite as members of the Reception Committee for the Art of Living Foundation. I am sure the event would be a rip-roaring success with leaders, peacemakers and renowned personalities from all walks of life making a spirited contribution.

I wish the Art of Living Foundation grows from strength to strength and spreads its divine message for many more years to come."

Sri Prakash Jaiswal is a Member of Indian Parliament in 14th Lok Sabha for Indian National Congress party and have won the election two times from Kanpur constituency of Uttar Pradesh. He is currently serving Indian government as a Minister of State for Home Affairs. He began his political career in 1989 as the mayor of Kanpur city. He also served as secretary, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee and also as president for Congress district committee. He was elected into the 13th Lok Sabha where he worked as member, Committee on Petroleum and Chemicals and member, Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament. He also served as a member of consultative committee in Ministry of Railways. He was re-elected to 14 Lok Sabha and from then onwards he has been the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs.

Mr. Nirj Deva

Member of the European Parliament

Nirj Deva was born in Sri Lanka and holds Sri Lankan and British citizenship. He became Chairman of the Bow Group (leading British political think-tank) in 1981. He was Chairman of the Department of Transport/National Consumer Council Committee on De-regulation of Air Transport, which resulted in low-fare airlines in Europe. In 1992, he was elected as Member of the House of Commons, and in 1999 as Conservative Member of the European Parliament, where he is a member of the Committee on Overseas Development and Cooperation and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

He is a Fellow of Britain's Royal Society of Arts, Chairman of the EU-India Chamber of Commerce and patron of the International Monarchist League. In April 2005, he was chairman of the European Parliament's delegation to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.

Ms. Monika Griefahn

Board Member, Right Livelihood Award

Monika Griefahn was born in 1954 in Mülheim-Ruhr, Germany. She graduated in sociology and mathematics in 1979. One year later, she co-founded Greenpeace Germany, and became a Member of the International Board of Directors in 1984. During her time at Greenpeace, she was first responsible for campaigns against chemical pollution and for the protection of the North Sea, and later for developing training programs and establishing new offices in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America.

"Having attended the Conference on Human Values during the 25th Anniversary of the Art of Living Foundation in Bangalore where 2,5 Million people joined the celebration, I have closely observed the work of the International Art of Living Foundation and its Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the last view years. I am highly impressed by the all-inclusive approach towards peace building and intercultural dialogue as the Foundation not only promotes health and wellbeing through Yoga but translates its efforts into outstanding results in the humanitarian field. Its wonderful and timely that on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Organization the World Culture Festival will be held in Berlin and will allow participants from around the world to come together in mutual respect and appreciation."

In 1990, she became Minister of Environmental Affairs in Lower Saxony, Germany. From 1998-2009, she served as Member of the German Parliament, with her main focus on culture and media as well as on foreign affairs. She is a Member of the Board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Chair of the Administrative Board of 'Deutsche Welle' (Germany's international broadcaster), and Member of the Board of the German UNESCO commission. She is married with three children.

Mrs. Jolanta Kwasniewska, Former First Lady of Poland

Former First Lady of Poland (1995-2005), Founder and President of the Foundation "Communication without barriers"; Lawyer.

Member of the Comité des Sages and the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation. Former Honorary Board Member of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. Board Member of the Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement and the Women Leaders' Council to fight human trafficking. Patron of the European Cancer Patient Coalition and the European Institute of Women's Health.

Initiator of remarkably successful national health campaigns (breast cancer, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). For her charity and humanitarian work and achievements honoured with many national and international awards and decorations, including a honorary doctorate, and the Order of the Smile â given by children for providing aid to children.

Mr. Ram Labhaya Lakhina

Founder, President The Netherlands India Chamber of Commerce and Trade (NICCT), Chairman Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Foundation

He has been espousing the interests of Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIOs) for more than 30 years. He was the first Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), serving from 1994 until 2002. In 1980, he co-founded the Foundation for Critical Choices for India to mobilize the intellectual and material resources of NRIs and PIOs for India's development.

In January 2009, the President of India conferred upon Ram Lakhina the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award for his valuable contribution in promoting the honor and prestige of India and in fostering interests of overseas Indians. In September 2009, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands knighted Ram Lakhina for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Indo Dutch cooperation. The publishers of 'the Indian' have named Ram Lakhina as one of the "100 Global Indians - luminaries, achievers and entrepreneurs."


Ms. Erika Mann

Former Member of the European Parliament

Erika Mann was a Member of European Parliament from 1994 to 2009, serving in various capacities including Head of the Joint EU-Delegation with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, and Member of the Delegation to South Asia. Among other posts, she is currently a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, as well as a Member of the Board of the World Forum for Ethics in Business.

"The Art of Living Foundation will organize in 2011 in Berlin a World Culture Festival. This is not the first time that the Art of Living Foundation will organize such kind of event but it will be the first time in Europe - and there couldn't be a better place than Berlin! The idea to show that culture is a way of life for all of us; that national traditions call very well live with international border less goals and ideas; that spiritual desires transcend religious thinking; and that our modern world continuous to be a place of wonder and excitement despite critical developments in many areas. It will be an event full of fun, seriousness and ideas and I am looking forward to be part of it."

She has extensive experience in several fields, including international trade, foreign policy, media/ telecommunications/internet, and transatlantic relations. She conceived the notion of a "Transatlantic Market" between the EU and US, which led to the foundation of the Transatlantic Economic Council. In 2005, she received the European-American Business Council Award 2005 for exceptional transatlantic commitment.

Erika Mann holds a Masters Degree in Social and Political Science, and was a researcher at the University of Hanover before becoming an IT business consultant. She is an Academic of the International Informatization Academy of the United Nations.

Mr. Madhu Rao

CEO Shangri-La Hotel Group International

Madhu Rao is the managing director and chief executive officer of Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited (commonly referred to as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts).

Mr. Rao has more than 20 years experience with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, which he joined in 1988 as group financial controller. He was appointed chief financial officer of Shangri-La Asia Limited in 1997 and continues to concurrently hold that position.

Previously, he was 17 years at a leading chartered accountancy practice in Mumbai, India, responsible for the management consultancy practice of the firm, including 12 years as partner. He is a graduate in Commerce from the University of Mumbai and a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Rabbi David Rosen

International Director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is the Director of the American Jewish Committee's Department for Interreligious Affairs and the AJC's Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding. He is the immediate past chairman of IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

"The variety of physical species and forms that make up our world reflect the very glory of the One Source of all life. If that is so with the physical world, how much more so must it be the case with the spiritual worlds in which human understanding of the Divine is so variegated and diversified by different and changing cultural and historical conditions.

Respecting this diversity is itself an expression of the appreciation of the inestimable and unfathomable complexity of our world and the inevitably limited human capacity to grasp the totality of the Divine Source. Such respect both inculcates in us authentic religious humility, and at the same time the capacity to celebrate the other and build a world of mutual understanding, appreciation and cooperation.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his International Art of Living Foundation do precisely this opening eyes and hearts and serving as a source of blessing and inspiration to all."

Rabbi Rosen also serves as the Advisor on Interreligious Affairs to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; is a member of the Chief Rabbinate's delegation for Interreligious Dialogue; and serves on the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.

He is an International President of the World Conference of Religion for Peace (WCRP), the all-encompassing world inter-faith body (incorporating fifteen religions in over fifty countries); Honorary President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), the umbrella organization for more than thirty national bodies promoting Christian-Jewish relations (the ICCJ's Abrahamic Forum promotes dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews;) serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis and as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum's Council for promoting relations and cooperation between the Muslim and Western worlds.

Rabbi Rosen was a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the normalization of relations between the two.

In November 2005, Pope Benedict XVI made Rabbi Rosen a Knight Commander of the order of St Gregory the Great for his outstanding contribution to promoting Catholic-Jewish reconciliation. In 2010he was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, for his contributions to interfaith relations in the Middle East and between Israel and the U.K.

Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan

Founder Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance

"I highly appreciate the tremendous work towards conflict resolution, peace and intercultural dialogue, that the International Art of Living Foundation has facilitated in the last 30 years not only in Asia but in 150 countries in the world. I see it to be very timely, that the World Culture Festival, which aims to foster harmony in diversity and the dialogue between cultures, comes in a time to Berlin, in which integration of different cultures and intercultural harmony is one of the most important issues. I hearty congratulate the International Art of Living Foundation to its 30th anniversary and welcome the World Culture Festival and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Berlin, the historic bridge between East and West."

Gesine Schwan was born in Berlin in 1943. She studied Roman Languages, History, Philosophy and Political Science in Berlin and Freiburg/Breisgau. In 1971, Gesine Schwan became Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Free University Berlin and lectured on the philosophical and economical bases of the social critique of Karl Marx. In 1977, she became professor of Political Science, in particular of Political Theory and Philosophy, at the Free University Berlin. Her main fields of research are Political Philosophy and Theories of Democracy and recently, problems of Political Psychology and Political Culture.

Since October 1999, she is President of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). At request of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, she assumed the office of Coordinator of the Federal Government for Civil Cooperation with the Republic of Poland in January 2005.

Ms. Schwan, who joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1972, has collaborated in numerous political committees, alongside her scientific career. From 1977 to 1984 and again since 1996, she has been member of the Commission for Fundamental Values of the board of governors of SPD. In March 2004, she was nominated by SPD and BĆ¼ndnis 90/Die GrĆ¼nen as candidate for the office of the Federal President of Germany.

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp

Former President of the European region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Dutch chair of the Solidarity Committee for Jews

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp is an award-winning human rights advocate, lecturer, writer, environmental activist and champion of civil society. Born in 1943 in Amsterdam, he was saved by a righteous couple and survived as a 'hidden child'. He received his ordination from Leo Baeck College and was instrumental in the re-establishment of Jewish communities in the Netherlands. He is the Rabbi Emeritus of congregation Beth Jehuda (The Hague) and former European region president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. He is a founding member of Green Cross International, and the Islam and the West dialogue group of the World Economic Forum. He is founder and chair of the Hope for Children Fund, and serves as an Earth Charter commissioner and a Millennium Development Ambassador.

Rabbi Soetendorp is a recipient of numerous honors, including the Peacebuilders Award (2005) and the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award (2008). He was honored by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands with the Royal Distinction as an Officer of the House of Orange (1994).

Mrs. Erna Hennicot-Schoepges

Former Minister of Culture, Rapporteur to the European Parliament for the Year of Intercultural Dialogue

Erna Hennicot-Schoepges developed her passion for culture through Musical studies, for which she was awarded the gold medal as a pianist, combined with studies in philosophy and literature at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique Bruxelles, Ecole Normale in Paris, the Mozarteum in Salzbourg, and the Centre Universitaire in Luxembourg.

Her political career is paved by cultural affairs. It started early as a politician on the local level in her hometown in Walferdange as Major and she became the first female President of Luxembourg's Parliament and quickly advanced to a main figure in Luxembourg politics as Minister of Culture, Higher Education and Research and Public Works. At the same time she remained highly engaged as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament.

Erna Hennicot-Schoepges is known for her active involvement in numerous foundations, where issues such as Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue and Cultural Itineraries are treated.

On a national level she is responsible, among others, for the creation of the University of Luxembourg in 2003 and the Luxembourg Philharmonic hall JosƩphine Charlotte in 2005. On a European level she had the honor to become rapporteur of the "European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, 2008", through which she managed to create an intense political debate on cultural issues by organizing conferences and publications.

She is regularly invited to take part in national and international conferences, by different foundations and universities, to speak and elaborate on her experiences in the European and the Cultural field.

As an independent expert she currently is a member of the Jury for the European Capitals of Culture.

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