From having the third largest standing army in the world to being a shelter to one-third of the world’s poor, India stands as a repository of a land of both devoid and development. Making an attempt to understand this ironic situation, The Round Table society of Kirori Mal College organised an interactive session on the theme- ‘India 2020’, a vision for India’s future on 22 September 2015.
The session saw esteemed dignitaries like former Chairperson of Press Council of India- Markandey Katju, former Cabinet Minister Subramanian Swamy and academician Dr. Indira Bhardwaj address a crowd of students and teachers.
The former Justice of Supreme Court, Markandey Katju, was the first speaker to address the gathering. With his oratorical brilliance, he mentioned that being educated and modern is not about wearing a lipstick or good clothes. It’s about a modern, rational, scientific and inquisitive mind. Replete with examples and anecdotes, his speech made strong comments on Indian history and present. When he called Gandhi as a British agent and Subhash Chander Bose a Japanese agent, the silence of the crowd spoke volumes about the quandary running in the minds of the audience.
Katju was of the view that every nation makes a transition from feudal agricultural society to a modern industrial society, but in case of India, we are stuck somewhere in the middle of these two phases. He not only commented on the sad state of affairs of the parliament and bureaucracy by calling politicians ‘a bunch of rogues and rascals’, but he also presented the unfortunate state of the Indian media that is more interested in covering Sheena Bora Murder, Radhe Maa and Bollywood, rather than bringing forth the plight of farmers who are committing suicides.
Interestingly, he pointed out the pitiable condition of Police investigations in India, stating that the ‘Darogas’ must see and learn from Sherlock Holmes. For him, India would soon face a social revolution and things will become terrible and turbulent by 2020. However, our national aim should be to make India a modern, scientific and industrial state, for which a revolution is increasingly necessary.
After Mr. Katju’s words of wisdom, academician- Dr. Indira Bhardwaj spoke about her vision of India. A faculty member at Delhi School of Business, she highlighted the ever pervasive problem of employability, explaining it as the art of doing routine things in a better way. She criticised how Indians lack innovation and how we make an imagined hierarchal difference between jobs by bifurcating them into either menial or sophisticated jobs. She stressed on learning and respecting ‘dignity of labour’, by treating all job platforms with equal respect.
After former Justice Katju and Dr. Indira, the final speaker that enthralled the audience was politician, Subramanian Swamy. According to the former Cabinet minister, a DNA study claims that, ‘all people of India are originally Hindus or their descendants had a Hindu identity.’ Taking his genetic research adventure forward, he stated how he got the DNA structure of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray matched with a person from Uttar Pradesh, claiming that Thackeray, who mocks North Indians himself has ancestors from UP. By virtue of these anecdotes, he aimed to highlight that every person in India is an Indian first, a north or south Indian next.
Sharing his teaching experience at Harvard University, he said, “ Whenever I used to ask students what kind of a job they would vouch for after the completion of their degree, 99% of Indian students in my class would say they’ll go for a secure job”, hence throwing light on the never ending search for stability by Indians.
Stating about the problem of corruption and bringing back our money from ‘foreign lands’, he said, “It is not that difficult to bring black money back to our country, but for that, I should be made Finance Minister.” He mockingly argued that India is in a questionable state because of the idealism of Jawahar Lal Nehru, who didn’t listen to anybody, but listened occasionally to Lady Mountbatten, Swamy claimed. He made an effort to project a hopeful picture of India as a developed country if we get our act together.
All in all, the conference, though meant to discuss about the future prospects of the Indian Subcontinent, majorly dwelled on the present, but it did establish a connect with the students and teachers as was apparent with the loud roar of applause at the end of the session.
Image Credits- Chirag Sharma for DU Beat