Market forces overscoring debate culture: Lord Bhiku

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 04 February 2013 20:50 IST

Lord Bhiku Parekh

Lord Bhiku Parekh, member of the House of Commons and Indian theorist, feels the rich Indian tradition of public debate is on a steep decline with politics and market forces taking a centre stage.

Addressing a lecture on “Indian tradition of Public debate” at the Festival of Ideas, Lord Bhiku (as he is widely known), even criticized the media for shrinking the rich tradition of public debate at personalized and partisan level.

“The Indian society is fragmented and even the political space is fragmented with restrictions being brought on public speech “, said Lord Parekh.

To justify his statements, he dug into the rich tradition of 2000 years of public debate right from Vedic times.

While India was confronted with diverse ideologies like Vedic scriptures challenged by Gautam Buddha while Buddha was confronted by Lokayat, Lord Parekh said ultimately public debates on these issues including atheism developed the Indian society.

Through this developed the Vadvidya (techniques of debate) and Vadshashtra (science of debate), which was taken ahead even by some of the kings by organizing public debates on several issues including a confrontation between the Hindu religion and Christian religion.

“One such debate between Hindu pundits and the Christian Jesuits was organized by Maharaja of Banaras, which went on for weeks together”, he informed the gathering at Kala Academy.

The next phase India witnessed was a debate between conservatives and reformists like Raja Rammohan Roy and Ishwarchand Vidyasagar with the Orthodox Brahmins on issues like widow marriages etc.

Then came the phase of Independence movement, said Lord Parekh, where Mahatma Gandhi either became the subject of debate or the object of it.

To cite few examples, he reminded the audience of debates between Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhi and “terrorists” like Veer Sawarkar, Gandhi and Ambedkar and even Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

The best debates India has ever witnessed were in the Constituency Assembly, on the eve of Independence, to design a new state, said Lord Parekh.

After carrying on the tradition for couple of decades in Independent India, Lord Parekh said the rich tradition of public debate itself is shrinking day by day.

He termed it as “shrinkage of public place”.

He even asked how Verma Commission recommendations be adopted without a national debate on it.

“After a historic public outcry on the gang rape issue, the outcome of the whole public debate was an ordinance to punishing the culprit, but nothing on the measures required to prevent such heinous crimes”, said Lord Parekh. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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