A range of topics, including the forgotten Indian culture, the practice of aping the West and the socio-political participation of middle-class families were debated at a discussion on ‘The life and times of being Indian' here on Friday.

Diplomats Pavan K.Varma and R.Kannan talked about the cultural richness of the country and stressed the need for people to recognise their roots. Mr. Varma is India's Ambassador to Bhutan and an author. Mr. Kannan is a political officer with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and also an author.

Opening the discussion with the post-colonial situation in the country, Mr.Varma said mediocrity has seeped into our civilisation and underscored the need to understand what it was to be Indian. Calling the middle-class, socially insensitive and self-obsessed, Mr.Varma said the families have built a citadel for themselves and it was time they evolve from being mere residents to becoming citizens. Contradicting the argument, Mr.Kannan said the middle-class has put the country on the world map by participating in large numbers in the development of information technology. Lower middle-class, on the other hand, were finding even the everyday life a struggle.

On his book ‘Anna: the Life and Times,' Mr.Kannan said there weren't many biographies on southern leaders and their contribution to the Indian political system has been hardly known to the world. While the Indian bureaucratic edifice was very much solid, it was important to analyse how the cultural richness of the country declined, he said.

Referring to his book ‘Being Indian,' Mr.Varma said works such as ‘Arthasastra,' ‘Vyakaran,' ‘Natyasastra' and ‘Upanishads' were testimony to the greatness of Indian minds, but they were conveniently overlooked by the people of today. “You can't be a great power by just producing a few engineers and doctors. How many of us know even the most popular Indian writers and historians? Strengthen your Indian roots and then take global wings.”

The discussion was organised to mark the second anniversary of the Indian Immersion Centre.