Staff Correspondent

`Country needs an active civil society'

Shathottara-2006, a three-day conference of Rotarians of Rotary District 3180 inaugurated `Muscle and money power have come to dominate elections' Citizens should preserve unity while maintaining diversity, says Ananthamurthy

MYSORE: Shivaraj V. Patil, member of the National Human Rights Commission, on Saturday said the need to humanise society has increased in the era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.

Mr. Patil was speaking here after inaugurating Shathottara-2006, a three-day conference of Rotarians of Rotary District 3180. He said that besides humanising society, citizens should strive to promote democratic values. Instead of merely conducting eye-camps, the Rotary should conducting "eye-opener" camps also.

Mr. Patil said the country needs an active civil society, dedicated non-governmental organisations, a honest and committed law-enforcing agency, pro-active judiciary and an independent media. Service organisations such as the Rotary should not only become the torchbearers of society but also become its opinion-makers, he added. Commenting on the democratic process, he said politicians are spending anything from Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 50 lakhs for campaigning in panchayat elections. Muscle and money power have come to dominate elections in the country, he lamented.

Mr. Patil said the evils of society, including casteism, crime and corruption, have emerged owing to politicians, who indulge in such practices to recover the money that they have spent in elections.

Delivering the keynote address, Jnanpith Award winner U.R. Ananthamurthy said citizens should preserve unity while maintaining diversity in India, which boasts of many languages and religions.

Referring to Kannada activists blackening the face of Belguam Mayor Pandurang More, he criticised the incident as it goes against the principle of democracy.

Suttur Math pontiff Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji and Rotary Governor M. Lakshminarayana were present.

Over 3,000 Rotarians representing Mysore, Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Shimoga and other district are participating in the conference.