The 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are a celebration of the cultural and competitive links that bind one of the largest groupings in the world, united by a common sense of justice, freedom and history. The assembling of athletes from around the world provides a unique opportunity for Scotland to host visitors to compete, support and spectate. Many of those travelling to Glasgow will also be renewing their ties to Scotland based on a sense of heritage and affinity.
At the centre of the “Friendly Games” activities visitors will find the House of Asia, open during a ten-day period to be a focal point and place where Scots can meet those from Asian and other Commonwealth countries to share experiences, performances and a variety of food and drink offerings.
A performance by a pipe band will be followed by Asian and other artists highlighting the cultural richness of Scotland’s diverse population and accentuating the warm welcome being extended to Glasgow’s visitors. Based on the iconic North Rotunda, this will also be a prequel to the planned two-day conference connecting Scotland to its global network, to be held at Gogarburn in Edinburgh in mid-October.
Although Scotland’s population is just over five million, it is connected to a diaspora of about 50 million worldwide who consider themselves to be Scots by descent or through affinity. Building bridges to this diaspora in a more effective way will create a powerful social network to link those with shared ideas and interests and also provide routes to market for those with products and services in Scotland and the “Scottish Commonwealth”.
The Commonwealth Games brings together teams from almost all of the 53 member states representing a population of nearly 2.3 billion people, more than 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30.
Sometimes described as a true “coalition of the willing” the Commonwealth has very strong links with Scotland and some of its origins can be found in the writings of Adam Smith and others highlighting the concept of “a common wealth” of interests and ideas.
What better time, then, to reach out and discover areas where Scots can connect and where, whatever the outcome of the mid-September vote, Scotland can build new bridges and restore strong historic links?
• Roddy Gow is chairman and founder of the Asia Scotland Institute www.asiascot.com