S. Jaipal Reddy Memorial Foundation organized a National Webinar on Celebrating Democracy today. The webinar was live telecasted on YouTube channel of S. Jaipal Reddy Memorial Foundation and was held to mark the International Day of Democracy (Sept. 15th) and India completing its 75 years of independence.
Addressing the audience, Ms. Shilpa Krishna, Research Scholar, University of Hyderabad said that Jaipal Reddy was an ardent proponent of Democracy and dedicated his life for upholding the democratic values in Indian Political System.
Justice Jasti Chelameswar, former SC Judge speaking on the occasion said that the true nature of democracy is that the three organs of democracy i.e. law making, law enforcing and adjuratory bodies perform their duties without influenced by the other organs. He spoke on each of these organs and their functioning. Coming to law making process, Justice Chelameswar said that the nature of debate happening in the process of law making leaves much to be desired. The debate is not clearly satisfactory, he lamented.
Speaking on the liberties of the people Justice Chelameswar said that among the many fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution but the core is the freedom of speech and liberty. The right not to be unduly imprisoned without following the process of law and the right to speak freely, these two constitute the core of off liberties, he said.
He quoted Winston Churchill: “Where there is a great deal of free speech there is always a certain amount of foolish speech”. He said that the debate in all public forum, even in civic societies or WhatsApp Groups the debates are vicious. We are not debating issues, we are debating personalities and their private lives even on questions of public matter, he said.
Speaking earlier Prof (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global, an Institution of Eminence Deemed to be University, said that the constitution that our founding fathers laid out for the Indian Republic is strong one, one of social transformation, political enlightenment, economic prosperity, civic empowerment and even cultural awakening. This is the idea of India that constantly inspires us to do more in many ways. Investing in human progress, conscious growth, inclusive development, etc. lies at the hearts of the Indian Constitution. He said that the threats to democracy currently are dysfunction of democratic institutions; corruption and inefficiency; anti-social elements and criminalization of politics; existing economic and social inequalities among people; discrimination on the basis of caste, gender and religion; and influence of money and muscle in elections. In conclusion, he said that despite many challenges we have reasons to be optimistic because as a nation India has proved its sceptics wrong many times. Democracy does allow for course correction, he said.
Addressing the gathering Sriram Karri, Resident Editor, Deccan Chronicle & Author said that took the topic to the basic level of citizens. Are we democratic in our thoughts and actions? He gave example of Building / Apartment Complex bodies that are dictatorial and are a big threat to democratic thinking. The thinking that some lifts are servants, other lifts are for residents, you can’t buy / rent if you belong to some particular religion, etc. thoughts like this give rise to entitlement. Even the Admins in WhatsApp Groups are dictatorial and autocratic. These kind of behavior must not be tolerated. This is where normalization happens, he said. He asked people to question themselves, “Am I democratic when I am in an influential position?” Democracy depends on how you behave, he said.
In her concluding remarks, Shilpa Krishna said that it is important to examine the relationship between state and democracy in India and that the real challenge for Indian democracy is the gap between democracy and legitimacy.
Youtube live link: https://youtu.be/sP_19WnbjfM