Jain (Deemed-to-be University) in collaboration with Lokniti- Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) , Delhi organized a Panel Discussion on ‘Indian Democracy - Looking Back, Looking Forward’ on 10th July 2016. The audience was treated to a feast of ideas as the distinguished panelists made important and thought provoking discussions.
Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Pro Vice Chancellor of Jain (Deemed-to-be University) welcomed the gathering, reflected on the theme of the discussion and introduced the Panelists. He also drew attention to the fact that Jain (Deemed-to-be University) and Lokniti-CSDS, have focused on training a new generation of scholars in quantitative techniques. The Panel discussion was starting on the eve of the 10th Summer School on Analyzing Quantitative Data jointly organized by Jain (Deemed-to-be University) and Lokniti-CSDS.
The first panelist was the eminent historian and writer Dr. Ramachandra Guha. He drew attention to the fact that the decision of the Constitution makers to secure the right to vote for every citizen was an important foundation step in the creation of a democratic framework in Independent India. He highlighted the importance of the electoral process and the success of the Indian electoral machinery. He called India an 'election only' democracy and felt that one of the biggest challenges the system faced was the decline of public/political institutions and made specific reference to the police and judiciary.
Dr. Ashutosh Varshney, Professor of Political Science at Brown University and a leading Comparative Politics Expert, spoke of the Electoral Vibrancy and Liberal Deficits of Indian democracy. Anchoring his arguments in Democratic Theory, he stressed that India's democratic experiment clearly indicated the minimal requirement of electoral democracy being met even as the broader requirement of democracy between elections remaining unfulfilled. This he said created a range of democratic deficits. Dr. Varshney dwelt at length on the contemporary expressions of these deficits.
The third Panelist was Dr. Suhas Palshikar a leading scholar on Indian politics and a Professor of Political Science at Savitribai Phule University at Pune. Dr. Palshikar took forward the arguments made by the scholars and focused on the road ahead. This highlighted the contours of the changing discourse on nationhood and identified the factors contributing to the same. He also dwelt at length in the rise of majoritarianism and emphasized it should not be solely associated with the rise of an assertive Hindu Nationalism.
Once the panelists spoke there was an hour long dialogue with many distinguished citizens among the audience drawing attention to a range of issues. There was an elaborate analysis of the impact of social media on the working of democracy, the gender question and the democratic deficit, corruption and its wider implications, decline of public institutions and multiple contours of majoritarianism.
The three panelists responded to the queries and the concluding remarks were offered by Professor Sanjay Kumar the Director of CSDS. He thanked the eminent Panelists for having spared time on a Sunday evening to be part of the discussion. He also thanked Jain (Deemed-to-be University) for hosting the event and it's Faculty, Researchers and students for their active participation.