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Heidelberg Forum 2022: India International Centre

The Heidelberg Centre South Asia in collaboration with various Indian Universities and colleges organized a lecture on the topic, “Environmental, Social and Governance (ESGs)- Transformation of Business in the 21st Century” headed by Prof. Dr. Marc-Phillippe Weller on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at the India International Centre.


As a part of their 8th Lecture series in India, Heidelberg University organized a series of lectures on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, with the day’s final event being held at India International Centre, Delhi. The summit’s agenda was to address the ESGs (Environmental Social and Governance) and the legal and contemporary challenges being borne in the private sector pertaining to Energy Consumption, Climate Change, and Sustainability. The keynote speaker for this event was Professor Dr. Marc-Phillippe Weller, Vice President of Heidelberg University. He was accompanied by Dr. Suboor Bakht, Director and Representative of the Foreign Branch Office, Heidelberg University, and various other delegation members from the university and the German Embassy in Delhi. The event also garnered the presence of Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, the Minister of State for Culture of India, as well as an esteemed panel of veteran judges, lawyers, and professors. 

The lecture, a collaboration between the Heidelberg Centre South Asia and India International Centre housed a massive audience comprising students and working professionals from the fields of- law, political science, economics, social sciences, engineering, business, etc…The students participating in the event represented a variety of top-tier educational institutions of the country including- IIT Delhi, University of Delhi, National Law University Delhi, Faculty of Law, DU, O.P.Jindal, etc.

The lecture, hallmarked by a learned and academically inclined crowd, had some preemptive expectations. Aditya Srivastava, a research associate with the South Asian University and Heidelberg University commented on his expectations from the lecture, and what he aims to understand as this collaboration between Heidelberg and other Indian Universities emboldens over time, “The aim is to study the interface of law and politics, and how legal instruments are being used to suppress political opposition or harass them. Of course, I am interested in knowing a bit more about the Indian side of things.” 

As the event caught pace, the dias welcomed its first speaker, Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, who threw light on the proactive measures taken by the Government of India including the “One Nation, One Card” scheme, in ensuring the fruition of environmental sustainability. She also quoted Prime Minister Modi on India’s pledge to achieve the ESGs, as claimed by India in the COP26. The minister also touched upon an interesting acronym, L.I.F.E- LIving For Environment, and how “for the sake of the environment, hypocrisy and duplicity should be taken out of the discourse.” 

Soon after, the podium was handed over to Dr. Suboor Bakht, Director and Representative of the Foreign Branch Office, Heidelberg University took the stand to introduce Heidelberg University, the oldest and one of the leading universities in Europe, and its plan of action with the Indian Universities. He mentioned that “Heidelberg has around 50 active partnerships with Indian Universities.” 

Post the university’s introduction and its POA, Professor Dr. Marc-Phillippe Weller, the keynote speaker for the event, took to the dias. Owing to his bailiwick in the field of private law, Dr. Wellel dabbled in the legal aspects and enforceability of the public and private policies pertaining to the evolution of ESGs, climate change, sustainability, and how “with the planet being at stake, the new policies should help the private businesses to achieve climate neutrality.” Dr. Weller, in direct conversation with DU Beat, talked about his experience in visiting India for the first time, and mentioned how overwhelmed he was to see the crowd’s response and curiosity. Upon being asked about the University’s future plans and if there are any ensuing collaborations with other Indian universities, he stated, “We have already made a lot of progress, but we will continue to expand that’s why we have also decided to make an office here in India.

The lecture also made room for a quick Q&A round soon after Dr. Weller ended his presentation. Considerably, the mavens sitting in the audience had some laudatory, thought-provoking, reaction-inducing, questions and insights, which truly made the session even more enriching so much, that while discussing the nuances of the event with Dr. Mark Fischer, a member of the delegation accompanying Dr. Weller, he said, “there were very very interested students and a lot of participation from the audience.” He also mentioned that Heidelberg University is in talks with various Indian Universities to facilitate foreign exchange programs, to further strengthen the partnerships between the two countries. 

The elaborate and insightful lecture was followed by an extravagant reception dinner for everyone present at the conclave. Students had compelling opinions about the event, and to touch upon their future association with Heidelberg University, this is what Rudra Raj Singh, a student of the Faculty of Law, DU had to say, in conversation with DU Beat, “I think owing to the prestige of this university, and considering it’s one of the oldest and the most leading Unis in Europe, it’s natural to plan a future association with them.” 

With collective and general remarks for the event being “successful” and “enriching”, the lecture paves way for extended partnerships between Heidelberg and other Indian universities in the near-future, resulting in increased opportunities for students all across the country. 

Featured Image Credits: Bharish for DU Beat.

Vidushi Sinha

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A Political Science major, Vidushi thinks her brain is a precious commodity that is slowly dying of boredom. And in an attempt to save it, you could occasionally find her nose buried in a book, or her eyes glossing over the Netflix “TOP 10”, OR find her singing as she tries to do damage control for her lack of humour? Anyway, hello!