Two lectures on India

 

From The Hindu

Vice-President Hamid Ansari being presented a memento by eminent jurist Soli J. Sorabjee while former Attorney-General Ashok H. Desai looks on, at the Tarkunde memorial lecture in New Delhi. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

 

NEW DELHI, November 23, 2014

Updated: November 23, 2014 02:01 IST

End culture of impunity: Hamid Ansari

STAFF REPORTER

 

Vice-President Hamid Ansari being presented a memento by eminent jurist Soli J. Sorabjee while former Attorney-General Ashok H. Desai looks on, at the Tarkunde memorial lecture in New Delhi. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari pointed out that people have a “profound disenchantment with the state” due to misuse of laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

He was delivering a lecture in memory of eminent jurist and human rights activist V.M. Tarkunde, here on Friday.

Mr. Ansari called for, “a fuller accountability into the system of governance at all levels so that the culture of impunity ends, and the state and its functionaries are held accountable for every act of omission or commission.”

There must be “continual oversight” to ensure that people are “kept sufficiently awake to the principle of not letting liberty be smothered by material prosperity.” The need, he said, was to find a balance between traditional rights of citizens with environmental imperatives and economic objectives or else social tensions would undermine development.

“Innovative legislation pertaining to right to food, education, information and rural employment has been put in place. A critical analysis of the results however show imbalance in implementation and insufficient attention to some other areas.”

The Vice President pointed out that violations of the right to life and liberty by the state was acute in areas of internal conflict such as Jammu and Kashmir, the north-east, and the Naxal belt.

“Much of this is credible, has been carefully documented, and reflects poorly on the state and its agents,” he said. “Despite the constitutional and legal guarantees, religious minorities continue to be the target of violence and discrimination… Patterns of systematic mobilisation of hate and divisive politics are discernible; in many cases these have been pursued with impunity.”

From The Hindu

NEW DELHI, November 23, 2014

Updated: November 23, 2014 01:58 IST

Nehru favoured state control over resources: Irfan Habib

ANITA JOSHUA

Working on the premise that Jawharlal Nehru’s world-view “provides the bedrock upon which alone this nation can sustain itself,” the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust on Saturday launched a lecture series that seeks to reconstruct and recover his “idea of India” while critiquing it.

Delivering the first lecture in the series christened, “The Indian Modern & Nehru,” eminent historian Irfan Habib flagged the key interventions made by the country’s first Prime Minister during the freedom struggle to lay the foundations of independent India.

In particular, Prof. Habib dwelt at length on Nehru’s celebration of reason and advocacy of a welfare state; two interventions that ran contrary to what Gandhi had spelt out in his book Hind Swaraj. “Gandhi spoke of self-help and minimal state but Nehru felt that people wanted a supportive state and advocated public sector control of mineral resources, railways, industry,…’’ Nehru also advocated ‘land to the tiller,’ something which Gandhi was opposed to, Prof. Habib added.

Pointing out that Gandhi chose Nehru as his political heir despite these differences, Prof. Habib said 1947 saw their two streams of thought unite like never before. “Both wanted communal slaughter to stop. And, they wanted Muslims to remain in India even after Partition as should Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. Very few Congress leaders agreed with them.”

Challenging allegations that State control over resources was a personal agenda of Nehru, the historian pointed out that public sector control over mineral resources, key infrastructure and industry were mentioned in the Karachi Resolution and was part of the official Congress policy from the early 1930s.

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