Tuesday, October 26, 2010

India lives without Original Indian Thinkers!

Finally I somehow managed to attend the Fourth Penguin India lecture on "The Indian Political Tradition - And Those Who Made It" by Mr.Ramachandra Guha yesterday.

The lecture hall was houseful like Rajinikanth’s Robot! But fortunately they had arranged a very good Big Screen outside the lecture room in the lane of IHC. After 10-15 minutes we arrived Dr. Parth Shah also came.

After I reached there first I noticed was the Two Full Glass of water which was FULL! So by seeing that I concluded that the lecture had just begun!

What I am going to do here is instead of presenting from my note which I have taken I am going to gather the messages that Mr.Guha has communicated to the public. It also appears that there is good amount of press coverage. So will take the views reported in the media.

From the ET:

  • "India may be unique in having a long tradition of original political and reflective thinking that has been both continuous and continuously of high quality and touched every aspect of the human condition,"

  • "The big idea of India owes itself to a remarkable set of men and women who founded and nurtured the Indian political tradition”.
  • Guha began with reformer Rajarammohun Roy, describing him as one of India's first liberal and modernist who was a "precocious pioneer, swimming against the current, both a thinker and an actor, a scholar and social reformer who confronted an orthodox hierarchical and ossified society by Western thought.
  • Giving examples of Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, Jaiprakash Narayan, M S Golwalker and Ram Manohar Lohia, Guha said, "No politician or social reformer in India's political society thinks like them anymore...What should worry us is not that we don't have thinker politicians but the leaders of today are so ignorant of the lineages they claim to represent.

  • He asked whether Congress MP Rahul Gandhi had ever read letters written by Jawaharlal Nehru to chief ministers, whether the BSP leader Mayawati had read Ambedkar's speeches or whether Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav could name a single book written by Lohia.

  • Guha concluded that the Indian political tradition was not merely an obscurely, or antiquarian or of archival interest but one where the multiple legacy of its thinker activist makers was still available to fulfil and redeem the unhonoured and unfulfilled ideals of a "remarkable political experiment in history."

It is worth reading this brief reporting from his lecture.

From Yahoo! India:

  • He said India is the world's most 'unnatural nation and least likely democracy'. 'The political miracle owes itself to a remarkable set of men and women who, I call, Indian political tradition,' he said.

  • He said that university education after 1857 proved crucibles of modernity and helped shape the thought of a generation of Indians.
  • Referring to the exchange of letters between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranth Tagore and the letters Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to chief ministers, he said that such exchange of thought not only provides intellectual stimulation but clears position on fundamental issues. Terming Gandhi as 'mother of all battles concerning social reforms', Guha said his views were challenged by men of various ideologies and he put forth his cogent arguments.
  • Guha said there were no reformers, writers or thinkers in the country's politics today and wondered if Congress scion Rahul Gandhi had read Nehru's letters to chief ministers, if Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had read the works of Ambedkar and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had read a book on Lohia.

  • Guha's book divided into five parts - the opening of Indian mind, reformers and radicals, nurturing a nation, debating a democracy and tradition reaffirmed - profiles 19 Indians whose ideas had a defining impact on formation and evolution of the Republic.
  • The lecture was followed by a question and answer session with NDTV group editor, English News, Barkha Dutt.

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