Mayor Greg Fischer is taking part in a 10-day trip to India, organized by the international Strong Cities Network (SCN), that will include a visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
As part of the trip, funded by the U.S. Embassy in India, Mayor Fischer and Tom Tait, Mayor of Anaheim, Calif., will meet with government, business, media and thought leaders to discuss approaches to making cities safer and communities stronger amid the rise in violent extremist groups around the globe.
Mayor Fischer also will be speaking to members of India’s business community at the Indian Merchant Chamber of Commerce, and industry, interfaith and community leaders at various stops throughout the trip. He’ll also meet with state and city officials, including the mayor of Mumbai Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, and discuss Louisville’s story in interviews with India’s media.
“Visits like this are great opportunities to promote our city,” Mayor Fischer said. “Our focus on compassion is something that resonates worldwide and is so relevant in today’s world. And I always welcome to the chance to tell our city’s story to potential investors and business interests that may be looking to expand in the U.S.”
India’s population is 1.3 billion, and its GDP is about $2.3 trillion.
SCN Manager Rebecca Skellett said the two mayors were chosen for the trip because of their focus on compassion, which has been championed by the Dalai Lama. Anaheim’s City of Kindness initiative parallels Louisville Compassionate City efforts.
“Mayor Fischer and Mayor Tait are both driving forward innovative practices to build social cohesion with city-wide Charters for Compassion and Kindness, which offer tremendous value to residents and businesses alike,” Skellett said. “This is why we’re delighted to be taking these two U.S. Mayors to Delhi, Mumbai and Dharamsala — to share their journeys, inspire Indian cities and policy makers, and learn more about how India’s diverse range of communities live together side by side.”
Mayor Tait said, “As a city, we must always respond to daily needs for public safety and community services. But kindness is our long game. It has the potential for positive change over generations. While cities across the world may face different issues, the impact of kindness is the same. We are honored that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has embraced what we are doing in Anaheim. His words to us sum it up perfectly: ‘Creating cultures of kindness and compassion throughout the world is the key to achieving world peace.’”
Launched by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue at the United Nations in September 2015, SCN “is the first ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policy makers and practitioners united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms,” according to its website.
SCN membership is diverse, including large megacities like London and Mumbai, to smaller municipalities such as Kristiansand and Tripoli. What unites SCN members is their desire to share their experiences, learn from others and build community resilience against the divisive ideologies of hate, division and violence in all its forms.
“The network catalyzes, inspires and multiplies community-centric approaches and action to counter violent extremism through peer learning and expert training including city exchanges, annual summits, regional workshops and providing consultancy to cities,” the website said.
Mayor Fischer, who leaves for India Tuesday afternoon, said he’s pleased to share Louisville’s successes in compassion, community building and economic growth, and to learn best practices from others while visiting India.