Lit for Life

Lit for Life: Making India work at the micro-level is key

(From left) N. Ram, Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd; former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan; former RAW Chief A.S. Dulat; writer Shashi Tharoor and T.N. Ninan, Chairman of BusinessStandard Ltd, interact at the The Hindu Lit For Life 2016 on Sunday. Photo: M. Vedhan   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN;M_VEDHAN

The need for stronger focus on primary education, the importance of engaging with Pakistan, the desire to transform the lives of those below the poverty line, the growing popularity of Arvind Kejriwal and a comparison of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were dominant themes at a discussion on ‘Making India work’ at the Lit for Life 2016 organised by The Hindu. The festival concluded on Sunday.

Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Limited, which publishes The Hindu and other publications, N. Ram, who moderated the event, set the tone for the discussion referring to what yesteryear Indian writer R.K. Narayan had told Nobel prize-winning British writer V.S. Naipaul in the 50s that “India will go on” despite whatever happened. He asked the speakers as to whether the country had the components in place to make it work.

Business Standard Limited’s Chairman T.N. Ninan observed that India was working better than before but it needed to change and work for more people. India worked for 40 per cent of people at the top and did not work for the 60 per cent in the bottom, which was not a happy situation. “There is a lack of state capacity,” he said.

Looking at issues through his intelligence prism, former RAW chief A.S. Dulat felt the present government at the Centre was not doing as much as it had promised. Even as he criticised Prime Minister Modi for not following in the footsteps of Mr. Vajpayee, who he termed was the “best politician India ever had,” Mr. Dulat was open about his admiration for Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal. “I see a spark in Kejriwal,” he said. An expert on Kashmir issues, Mr. Dulat contended that India should continue to engage with Pakistan. “The status quo in Kashmir does not suit us.”

Former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan and Congress MP and writer Shashi Tharoor shared their thoughts on how they saw India. While India worked at the macro level it did not at the micro level, Mr. Tharoor said, coming to the conclusion that “fundamentally India was working.” However, he highlighted the point that despite the promise of better days ahead, the government still took several days to clear files.

As a resident of Chennai, Ms. Natarajan expressed her angst at the Parliament not spending sufficient time to discuss the critical situation in the city during the floods last month. “I was outraged. People were swimming and dead bodies were floating and did anybody in Parliament notice what was happening south of the Vindhyas?” she asked.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 4:32:36 AM |

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