Sundeep Waslekar

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Sundeep Waslekar
Sundeep Waslekar, at the 2009 Horasis Global China Business Meeting.jpg
Sundeep Waslekar
at the Horasis Global China Business Meeting 2009
Born(1959-04-03)3 April 1959
Alma materOxford University
Known forPeace and conflict studies, Global Future, Water Diplomacy
Scientific career
FieldsGovernance, Peace and conflict studies
InstitutionsStrategic Foresight Group, Centre for Policy Research, International IDEA

Sundeep Waslekar (born 3 April 1959) is an Indian thought leader on conflict resolution and global future. He is the President of Strategic Foresight Group and has authored three books on governance and several research reports on managing future challenges. Sundeep Waslekar is known for developing innovative policy concepts for peaceful change and his ideas have been discussed by the European Parliament, the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and House of Lords,[1] the Indian Parliament, forums of the United Nations including the United Nations Security Council,[2][3] World Economic Forum meetings at Davos [4] and Dead Sea, and other institutions.


Sundeep Waslekar spent his childhood in Dombivli, a suburb of Mumbai, India. He obtained the Master of Commerce degree from University of Mumbai. As soon as he graduated from Mumbai University, he published an independent article on reforming global financial system in Financial Express. It generated interest in international academic circles. When he was 20, he was invited to an international seminar on North South Dialogue hosted by Liberal International to present his views. Later on, he was awarded a full scholarship to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at St. John's College, Oxford University. While at Oxford, he was invited by several institutions in Europe and North America to deliver talks on global development issues. When he completed his studies, Indira Gandhi, who was then Prime Minister of India, wrote to him, which encouraged him to return home.

In December 2011, he was conferred D. Litt. (Doctor of Literature, Honoris Causa) of Symbiosis International University at the hands of President of India.

In 2014 he was elected Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflicts at Harris Manchester College of Oxford.

Peace processes[edit]

Sundeep Waslekar spent early years of his career developing writing skills and participating in international peace work. In the 1980s, he contributed essays and features to more than 50 newspapers and periodicals including leading magazines in India and provincial newspapers in North America such as the Ottawa Citizen, San Jose Mercury News, Hamilton Spectator and Toledo Blade.

When the United Nations declared 1985 as the International Year of Peace, he led an Eight Nation Peace Mission from Rome to Ottawa at the age of 26. He was received by the Commonwealth Secretary General in London and several leaders on the way. When he arrived in Ottawa, the Mayor went to welcome him on the outskirts of the city and renamed the Inter-provincial Bridge between Quebec and Ontario as Boulevard de la Paix for a day.

On his return to India in 1985, he joined the Centre for Policy Research to work on economic collaboration as means of conflict resolution in South Asia. His monographs on breaking deadlock in economic ties between India and Pakistan as well as India and Sri Lanka attracted attention of the policy makers. In 1991, he founded International Centre for Peace Initiatives, the first conflict resolution institution in South Asia. Under its auspices, he was engaged in track two diplomatic efforts between India and Pakistan, as well as between leaders of various Kashmiri movements and India's national leaders. He was also one of the pioneers of unofficial dialogues between South Asian parliamentarians and also between editors of indigenous language media in the region. His strategy was to extend the constituency of peace from the elite in the capitals to institutions of common citizens. At the end of the 1990s, he gradually withdrew from this work as many civil society organisations came up in South Asia to promote dialogue and understanding between politicians, journalists and representatives of grass-root level organisations.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the War on Terror, he facilitated dialogues between Western and Islamic leaders, hosted by the Strategic Foresight Group, in collaboration with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament[5] and the League of Arab States. In addition, he held consultations with Heads of Governments, foreign ministers and heads of counter-terrorism units in multilateral organisations. Three years of roundtables and consultations resulted in various policy proposals, particularly including the concept of an Inclusive and Semi-Permanent Conference for the Middle East.

In 2009, he launched dialogue processes to use water to promote mutual stakes and collaboration between traditional enemies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In the first decade of the 21st century, Sundeep Waslekar and his colleague Ilmas Futehally led the Strategic Foresight Group to develop a comprehensive approach to measure the Cost of conflict as a tool to sensitise public opinion about absurdity of wars and to create demand for peace. The cost of conflict concept was presented by Paul Collier, International Alert and other experts and institutions. However, Waslekar and Futehally inspired the Strategic Foresight Group to compute costs on economic, social, political, psychological, diplomatic, environmental, and a large number of other parameters. Their approach particularly emphasises opportunity costs. From 2004 to 2009, they prepared cost of conflict models for India-Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. The opportunity cost in the Middle East was estimated at staggering $12 trillion from 1991 to 2010.[6]

Since 2009 Sundeep Waslekar and Ilmas Futehally have led the strategic Foresight Group to develop the "Blue Peace" approach, which transforms trans-boundary water into an instrument for cooperation, with collaborative and sustainable strategies shared by riparian countries. In 2013 SFG released a report "Water Cooperation for a Secure World", which examines for the first time the relationship between water and peace around the world. Coinciding with the release of the report Sundeep Waslekar and HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal, Chairman of the United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation wrote a joint Op-Ed on the linkages between Water, Peace and Security, which was simultaneously published by several newspapers in different parts of the world. This article argues that contrary to popular belief, water is not always a source of potential conflict and that in fact, "active water cooperation can help overcome environmental challenges and usher in a new era of peace, trust and security".[7]

In 2015, Sundeep Waslekar created the "Water Cooperation Quotient", which is the first measure in the world that quantifies the quality of cooperation within trans-boundary river basins worldwide. Strong cooperation in collaborative and sustainable management of water resources can lead to comprehensive peace, reduce military expenditure and improve living conditions of the poor people. In 2017, a revised version of the Water Cooperation Quotient was launched. It covers all 286 shared river basins of the world. It has political support from the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government.

Sundeep Waslekar has been advising the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace, co-convened by 15 governments. The first meeting of the Panel was held in Geneva in November 2015, when the Panel was inaugurated. The second meeting of the Panel was held in Dakar, Senegal in April 2016.[8] It was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, and concluded by President Macky Sall. Subsequent meetings took place in San Jose, Costa Rica and Amman, Jordan. In September 2017, the Global High Level Panel presented its report, to the United Nations.[9]

United Nations Security Council[edit]

Every Secretary General of the United Nations since Boutros-Boutros Ghali have argued that water is not only a development issue but it is closely linked to peace and security and therefore must be on the agenda of the UN Security Council. InterAction Council in its plenary sessions and special reports pleaded for water to be discussed in the United Nations Security Council. However, this was not possible for twenty five years due to resistance by some Member States of the United Nations to securitise the water debate.

In late 2015 Sundeep Waslekar proposed to Senegal which had been elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC to put water on agenda, considering outstanding track record of Senegal in fostering trans-boundary water cooperation in the Senegal and Gambia river basins. The Government of Senegal accepted this suggestion and convened a series of meetings in the UN Security Council on Water, Peace and Security.

On 22 November 2016, under Senegal's chairmanship, UNSC convened an open debate in its meeting 7818 on water and peace linkages. The representatives of 69 countries participated in the debate. Sundeep Waslekar was invited to brief the session, along with Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General; Danilo Turk, Chair of Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace; and Christine Beerli, Vice President of ICRC. In his briefing Sundeep Waslekar urged the UNSC to declare water as a “strategic asset of humanity” which would make crimes against water equivalent to crime against humanity. He also proposed new diplomatic tools to deal with violence against water infrastructure.


Waslekar has been addressing governance issues at global, regional and national levels since 1990. During the period when the world was in transition, from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the end of the First Gulf War in 1991, he sought perspectives from 40 world leaders across all continents to prepare a blueprint of the architecture of global governance in the post Cold War era. His book, The New World Order, was one of the first international efforts to define global governance after the fall of the former Soviet Union.

In the second half of the 1990s, he wrote two books on India and the neighbouring countries - South Asian Drama: Travails of Misgovernance, and Dharma Rajya: Path-breaking Reforms for India's Governance.[10]

In 2002, he developed a new categorisation of the Indian economy based on consumption patterns rather than income levels.[11]

In 2005, he was associated with the initiative of Paul Martin, then Canada's Prime Minister, to create a G-20 framework for global governance.[12] It was labelled as L-20 and fructified only at the end of 2008 in response to international financial crisis.

Global Future[edit]

Sundeep Waslekar has earned a reputation for his ability to take a sweeping look at human history, analyse emerging trends and draw long-term conclusions for global future. In December 2005, he was invited to deliver the Nelson Mandela Benefit Speech in Dubai, when he presented the concept of An Inclusive World as a framework for collaborative and harmonious global future based on co-existence of all cultures.

In an article in India's The Economic Times in August 2007 and in the Strategic Foresight Group report on Emerging Issues: 2011-2020 in January 2008, Waslekar warned about the possibility of the collapse of the global financial system. The Emerging Issues report identifies 20 drivers of change that will impact the next decade.

In his speeches at conferences of the Aspen Institute Italy and the Bertelsmann Foundation organised to reflect on global economic crisis in 2009, he presented ideas for a bold new framework for economically inclusive and environmentally sustainable future of the world.

In 2011, he co-authored a book of essays Big Questions of Our Time [13] with Ilmas Futehally. The book raises important questions that will face humanity from 2010-2060 over a wide spectrum of issues from philosophy to politics and science to security.

Eka Dishecha Shodh[edit]

Eka Dishecha Shodh - (A book in Marathi by Sundeep Waslekar published by Rajhans Publications)

Though written in Marathi, the book has important messages for audiences across India. It analyses challenges to India's future, which are currently outside the discourse in the media, and explains several strategies for the advancement of society, particularly economically weak sections of population. The book is easy to read, non-academic, and draws from personal experiences and anecdotes. The book was on the top of the bestseller list for several months, and has had twenty-one editions published since its release, plus an Audio Version produced by the National Association for the Blind.[14] The book has also been translated in Urdu, with the title Ek Samt Ki Talash and in Hindi with the title Naye Bharat Ka Nirman. The Hindi edition has also turned out to be a bestseller, with a mega-edition selling out in a few months. Since June 2012, he has been writing a fortnightly column in the Marathi newspaper Sakal to continue the discourse initiated in Eka Dishecha Shodh.

Big Questions of Our Time[edit]

Big Questions of Our Time - (A book in English by Sundeep Waslekar and Ilmas Futehally)

"Big Questions of Our Time" is a collection of essays by Sundeep Waslekar and Ilmas Futehally, which anticipate the world's future. Including the future of governance as well as the technological, ecological, economic, political, social, cultural and philosophical changes that may take place in the twenty-first century. This book was also published in Marathi by Saket Publications with the title "Navya Yugacha Arambh". Three editions of the Marathi version have already been published since the books release.

Big Questions of Our Time: The World Speaks

"Big Questions of Our Time: The World Speaks" is a report co-edited by Sundeep Waslekar and Ilmas Futehally that brings together articles from 89 scholars and thinkers from 44 countries that looks to identify global challenges that face humanity in the next 30–40 years.[15]

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • The New World Order, 1991, Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd ISBN 81-220-0241-2
  • South Asian Drama: Travails of Misgovernance, 1996, Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd ISBN 81-220-0416-4
  • Dharma Rajya: Path-breaking Reforms for India's Governance, 1998, Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd ISBN 81-220-0528-4
  • The Final Settlement [1]: Restructuring India-Pakistan Relations, 2005, International Centre for Peace Initiatives ISBN 81-88262-06-4
  • An Inclusive World: In which the West, Islam and the Rest have a stake, 2007, Strategic Foresight Group ISBN 81-88262-09-9
  • Cost of Conflict in the Middle East [2], co-authored with Ilmas Futehally, 2009, Strategic Foresight Group ISBN 978-81-88262-12-0
  • Eka dishecha Shodh [16] (एका दिशेचा शोध)
  • Big Questions of Our Time [3] co-author with Ilmas Futehally, 2011, Strategic Foresight Group, ISBN 978-81-88262-16-8
  • Big Questions of Our Time: The World Speaks [4] co-author with Ilmas Futehally, 2016, Strategic Foresight Group


"We need an inclusive world not merely because of the fear of our survival. We need it because hope is feasible. We need it because dreaming is good and aspirations are essential. We need it because every citizen of the earth can become a participant. We need it because the tomorrow is ours. We need it because the impossible is often possible." (Sundeep Waslekar, Nelson Mandela Benefit Speech, Dubai, 16 December 2005)

"The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace," said Sundeep Waslekar (By Jonathan Lynn, Reuters, Geneva, 23 January 2009)

"The critical question facing humanity is how to extend prosperity to the three billion people of the world living in the periphery... The change I want to see is that the world is which is governed by power-driven agendas shifts to the way of collaborative problem-solving." (Sundeep Waslekar on Challenges of the Globalised World, video series of Bertelsmann Stiftung, 11 June 2009)


External links[edit]

  • Strategic Foresight Group [5]
  • The Globalist-India's Crisis of Values [6]
  • Bertelsmann Foundation- Shaping a Globalized World [7]
  • World Economic Forum- Middle East Summit [8]
  • Horasis [9]