Lecture organised in city in memory of journalist T.V. Achutha Warrier

Strengthening civil society is the key to democratisation of power, G. Haragopal, professor, University of Hyderabad, has said.

He was delivering a lecture on ‘Speaking truth to power’, in memory of journalist T.V. Achutha Warrier, here on Wednesday.

“There are strong ties between democracy and civil society. A stronger civil society will ensure a stronger democracy. It is time the civil society rethought the fundamentals of development,” he said.

He stated that the model of development in the country was flawed. “About 55 per cent of the GDP goes to the service sector. Corporate houses control 22 per cent of the GDP. As many as 600 million people live on 15 per cent of GDP. The share of agriculture to the GDP has come down from two-third in the early fifties to a mere 15 per cent now,” he added.

He observed that power constituted a negative relationship between human beings. “No power will ever be substantive without the backing of weapons and institutionalised violence. The State relies much on organised force. Those who capture power are economically powerful and control the basic means of production. They are in a position to deploy others to fight on their behalf. The State appears as a legitimate instrument because of electoral politics, separation of powers and rule of law,” he said.

He observed that human rights constitute a historic compulsion between power systems and mass struggles.

“Speaking truth is premised on a hope that power listens. Normally power never listens. If it listens, it ceases to be power. Power bends but bends not for a logical argument. This is evident in the experiences of rights movement,” he added.

Media critic A. Jaysankar also spoke.

A journalist with six decades of experience, Achutha Warrier joined the Thrissur Express in 1953, fresh out of college. He made his mark in every field of journalism from proof reading to editorial writing. Committed to environmental issues, he had penned editorials stressing the need for conservation of such ecologically important regions such as Silent Valley. He won accolades as a sports editor, writer and commentator.

He resigned from the Thrissur Express as its Associate Editor following certain changes in the newspaper's editorial policy.

Though he was hard of hearing from a very young age, it was never a handicap for him. He once told an interviewer: “My hearing-impairment has been a blessing in disguise. External sounds never disturb me. I can write an editorial even in the midst of the sound and fury of Thrissur Pooram.”

He had also worked in the Deenabandu and the Punyabhoomi. Some of his editorials are textbooks for the younger generation of journalists. They include the ones on American posture during Vietnam War, against the illegal occupations of Israel in West Asia, against Pakistan Military regime during Bangladesh liberation war and against the Nixon government during the Watergate scandal. During Emergency, he left the editorial column vacant to protest press censorship. He was in constant touch with leaders such as George Fernandes, Madhu Limaye, R. K. Hegde. Madhu Dantavade and Surendra Mohan. Warrier’s admirers believe that his letters might have had a role in Limaye’s criticism in Parliament on the functioning of Janata government and in persuading Fernandes to ban Coca-Cola.