Rama Krishna Sangem
Speakers at 21st Memorial annual lecture of Prof B Janardhan Rao voiced concern over dangers to democracy from majoritarian political ideologies. The lecture was held in the campus of Kakatiya University in Warangal on April 13, Thursday. Prof Janardhan Rao, who was with Kakatiya University contributed a lot to service of tribal rights and championed the cause of separate Telangana statehood.
Eminent social activist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Prof Shantha Sinha who delivered key note address on the topic of “Institution Building and Democracy in India: Challenges” led other speakers on the emerging threat to the fabric of democracy in our country from the majoritarian Hindu forces since recently. She called for joining of hands by all like minded forces, right from the Left liberals to democratic intellectuals to save democracy.
Kakatiya University Vice-Chancellor Prof T Ramesh presided over the programme while late Janardhan Rao’ s wife and CESS (Centre for Economic and Social Studies), Hyderabad director Prof E Revathi, also secretary of BJR Memorial Foundation, which organised the event presented a report on the foundation’s activities. Prof P Narendra Babu, Prof K Murali Manohar and T Buchibabu, foundation functionaries too participated.
“Democracy integral to India”
Leading speaker Prof Shantha Sinha said that democracy is integral to India imagined at the time of independence contrary to imagination of what constitutes the Indian nation that is emerging today. “India was imagined as a secular democratic nation based on the values of individual rights, equality and social justice at the time of Independence. A liberal democratic framework provided values for governance,” said she.
Institutions like parliament, executive and judiciary, federal structure and local bodies, freedom of speech, thought and expression were intended to give concrete meaning to that imagination of Indian nation, said Prof Sinha. Prof Sinha was the founder trustee of MV Foundation and former chairman of National Commission for protection of Child rights. She also worked with University of Hyderabad as political science professor.
After 70 years of independence, she voiced concern over emergence of an imagination of India as majoritarian Hindu Rashtra. This thinking is fueling hate towards minorities especially Muslims in the country. This is leading to aggressive nationalism. And this is causing tensions in the country and undermining the very principles which formed basis for Indian imagination at the time of Independence, she said.
Prof Sinha called active response from all sections of civil society right from communists, liberals and intellectuals to face the challenges and save democratic values of Indian imagination. Strengthening of all democratic institutions, right up to gram panchayats, is the need of the hour, said Prof Sinha. That is the only way, we can save our democratic framework and safeguard democratic culture, she said.