Speaker : is Mr B. G. Verghese .
Profile :Doyen among English language journalists in India, who has had a ringside view of the most historic events affecting independent India. He has occupied senior positions as Information Advisor to the Prime minister, and Information Assistant to the Defence Minister. he has recently published his memoirs, titled First Draft, which has been reviewed favourably by most journals and newspapers.
Topic: He would be making his observations on the economic progress of the country that has not eased the social strains in Indian society – a contradiction in terms.
His Good quality you may download from net .
India’s best known journalist and author , Mr B. G. Verghese, spoke to the students of the Indira Group of Institutes, Pune on Tuesday, 23 November, 2010 on the subject : Economic Gains and Social Strains-The Way Out. Organised by Tapasya, the triannual journal brought out by the Group, the Series intends to bring India’s best known minds, from the world of business, politics, arts, journalism, and science and technology, to interact with the students on the substance of their work during their lifetime. The most credible of Indians who have an unimpeachable credibility and record of service to the nation are invited under the Series in order that they become role models for the youth and to inspire them to take up nation building as a mission. The Series was initiated in 2009 with the inauguration by Mr R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons Ltd.
The address was an exhibition of sheer erudition and experience, and a display of hope and optimism for the country’s future. Mr Verghese was at pains to underline the need for India’s economic progress to become more equitable and distribution of wealth more rational if the stresses which we are presently undergoing are to be removed. He opined that although on the whole India has been growing at a rate of approx 9% in the last few years, the fact is that the rich have been growing at around 18 to 20%,while the poorest among Indians are hardly outside the pale of the poverty line, growing at a dismal 1 to 2%. This is unacceptable, said Mr Verghese and could have dangerous repercussions for the country as a whole. Regional differences, class differences, caste and communal divides are a direct consequence of economic sufferance and if these distinctions are to be eliminated, equity in distribution of wealth is the only way. He made a scathing attack on obscene displays of wealth by a few which only aggravates tensions in society.
Mr Verghese’s address was followed by a scintillating Q & A session with the audience, when he answered a number of queries that ranged from India’s economic growth to geo-politics in the sub continent and the Kashmir question.
Mr Verghese, has recently released his 18th book, First Draft, an autobiography which also serves as a history of post-independence India. He was closely associated with the Indian Administration as Information Adviser to Mrs Indira Gandhi and to the Defence Minister in 2001. He has also been a member of the Kargil Review committee which suggested measures to strengthen India’s external security. The question and answer session that followed his address turned out to be a lively discussion on all these topics.
The credibility of Dr Vandana Shiva’s work and passion for the cause so dear to her was what simply moved the large audience of over 450 students, faculty, and invitees at the Tapasya Gyanganga Lecture, organized under the aegis of Tapasya, the triannual journal of the Indira Group of Institutes. She spoke on : Global Warming and GM Foods : Is Economic Development Misreading the Risks? on Thursday, 13 January, 2011. She made a fervent plea to the youth of the country to keep the environment at the centre of all development if we wanted future generations to be able to benefit from the largesse offered by nature. Without mincing words, Dr Shiva tore into the machinations of the mercenary corporates who are with gay indifference, almost bordering on contempt, poisoning the very sources of sustenance of the human population all over the world. Be it vegetables, grains and pulses, drinking water, or simply pushing fast foods that prompt faster ageing and entail untold health risks, she charged them with making their livelihood out of spreading poison in the name of edible commodities produced with grossly unethical aims. She mentioned that India has been the granary of the world for generations; and even the great Bengal famine of the 1930s was a result of not shortfall in production, but the shipping out of the rice and wheat from the northern States by a patently opportunist British establishment, to feed the troops during the war! And now, the western world has spied an opportunity to use food as a tool of war to subjugate the people by manipulating science and scientific facts to suit their ends. She was at pains to explain how GM food protagonists have worked overtime to ensure that the organic seeds for farm produce actually disappeared from the farms so that farmers are left with little alternative but to buy at exorbitant prices the GM seeds which are patented; and reuse of seeds so patented results in charges of piracy by these companies! What is worse , the country’s Government has shown exemplary lack of will to combat this kind of active commercialism indulged in by the multinationals, at the cost of the country’s food security.
Global Warming, she said, is a concept that has been largely misunderstood by the world, especially the developed parts which seem to believe that since it is snowing in Europe and the US, Global Warming is just a bogey to force the developed world to commit to unreasonable targets of pollution control!! The concept of carbon credits was roundly criticized by her as being another tool to reward the polluter and punish the sufferer, quite contrary to the principle of ‘the polluter pays’, since it puts a premium on emission discharge by the rich nations for which the poor nations suffer, thus, the system ends up rewarding the polluter rather than punishing him! She gave innumerable examples of the devastating effects of climate change that are causing untold suffering be it in Australia as the recent floods in Brisbane have shown, or in Ladakh which has rarely seen rain at that altitude, but over 200 people were killed in heavy rains this year, or Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, US all of which represent a quantum shift in the weather cycle and it can only get worse unless the world comes to some understanding on the way to control emissions and prevent further damage. However, judging by the results of Copenhagen and Cancun and the fact that the Kyoto protocol was virtually a dead horse, she was not too sanguine about a global initiative to arrest climate change, which is already causing severe crises in world climate patterns. If anything, individual countries will need to take up the challenge as part of their own enlightened obligations to their countrymen, for whatever it was worth. And most important, she felt the youth of the country will have to actively involve themselves in the fight for the environment, and be more proactive in the field of agriculture and sympathetic to the agriculturists who are the real benefactors of humankind.
The address was followed by a dynamic and lively interactive session, moderated by Mr Chetan Wakalkar, Group Director, at which she answered a host of questions on the need to go back to the basics – as regards farming and respect for the evolution process of nature. Dr Shiva was introduced by Mr PG Vijairaghavan, Convenor of the Series and a vote of thanks was presented by Dr Renu Bhargava, Director , ISBS.