January 2013
Event report: President of India inaugurates The Hindu Centre (includes video)

Inauguration of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy   The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, inaugurated The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy at Rashtrapati Bhavan Auditorium on January 31st, 2013. The President unveiled the plaque and inaugurated the Centre, based in Chennai, via video link, amidst a gathering of distinguished guests at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, including Former Prime Minister Shri. H.D. Deve Gowda, Shri. Lal Krishna Advani, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress, Mr. Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist Party of India and Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Vice President, Indian National Congress. Welcoming the guests, Mr. N. Ram, Director, Kasturi and Sons Ltd., said: “The mission of the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy will be to provide intellectual ballast and substance to our, and the reading public’s, understanding of selected political subjects, challenges, and issues.” Click here for full transcript of speech. Dr. Malini Parthasarathy, Director of The Hindu Centre, while introducing the Centre’s work and mission, said that the context in which the idea of the Centre has emerged is the sharp sense of a breakdown of the basic consensus on governance and also an increasing polarization of the national discourse. She said: “We think the Centre should help strengthen the foundational liberal principles that have made this country great. The Centre should be an agent of change, rather than solely engaging in theoretical explorations at a time when there is rising public anger and strong disenchantment with politics and institutions. We see our role as taking forward a re-examination of fundamental constitutional principles which regrettably have become points of controversy and contestation such as nationalism, secularism and social justice.” Click here for full transcript of speech. Professor Sunil Khilnani, Avantha Professor and Director, King’s India Institute, at King’s College London, also on the Board of Advisors of The Hindu Centre, said: “At a time when the Indian republic is in profound need of renewal, when we need to reinvigorate our institutions, remind ourselves of our founding principles when we face, that is, big and daunting tasks, we need also to rediscover the primacy of policy: the smaller, measurable steps by which a society moves towards high ideals. For it is only if citizens can sense that movement in their everyday lives and struggles that the ideals embodied in our Constitution will appear as worth sustaining.” Click here for full transcript of speech. Speaking on the occasion, President Pranab Mukherjee spoke of three ‘D’s that are essential for democracy – Debate and discussion, Dissent and Decision. Referring to the frequent disruptions in parliamentary proceedings, he said that such disruptions put a serious pressure on the government and deny the right of individual members to express their views at the highest national decision making body. He spoke of the need to make more effective institutions that are vital to a parliamentary democracy such as an independent judiciary, a free press, legislature and executive. Click here for full transcript of speech. Proposing the vote of thanks, Mr. N. Ravi, Director of Kasturi and Sons Ltd., said that the Centre could not have hoped for a better start, with the highest office of the land being associated with the inauguration of a fledgling Centre and with the participation of leaders whose actions could shape the future and make a difference to the lives of the people. He said: “The Centre is a small step which we hope can contribute to the political discourse. With all your cooperation we expect to explore solutions to long standing problems, to turn the power of ideas into the utility of practice.” Click here for full transcript of speech.