Connects live with 500 institutions for maiden public lecture

“The last time this happened… was…well, when language was invented,” said Dr. Sam Pitroda waxing effusive about the wonders of the Internet and its massive impact on the way the modern world is connected and able to communicate. He was delivering Delhi University’s first public lecture under the Network Public Lecture Series, where the University connected live with over 500 institutions here on Wednesday.

Excited audience

Big LCD screens connected an excited audience across educational institutions in Gujarat, Kharagpur, Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore where questions were posed live to the speakers who included Harvard University Professor Michael Sandel and Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh. Among the institutions linked up were Lady Shri Ram College , IISC Bangalore, IIT Bombay, IIM Calcutta and University of Pune.

Questions from Twitter as well as from the immediate audience in the University’s convocation hall, which was overflowing with students and teachers, were also entertained.

The lecture, on “Democratising information, justice, equality, and the rule of law,” had a lot of thought-provoking questions from the students which ranged from the ineffectiveness of legislations in the absence of an efficient policing agency to the need for a competitive exam for politicians. “We have the hardest competitive exam to choose the best engineers, lawyers and civil servants, but why is it there is nothing on which a politician can be examined?” asked a student from IIT Bombay. He said the lessons they were taught as students -- that every citizen was equal in a democracy -- were proved wrong in real life where, he felt, there were some more equal than others.

Professor Sandel’s talk centred round the rights and duties of a citizen where he said that to be a citizen in the true sense did not mean just having access to information but also to be able to act, agree or disagree on that information.