“I would like to state that I did not participate in the meeting held today at the RGICS where I had earlier agreed to speak. I had already informed the organisers of my decision a couple of days back.”
Thapar said that the issue of her attending, as also that of others, “was so politically polarised by the media and by politicians, that it enforced my decision to stay away.”
“I am not a member of any political party nor do I intend to be one,” she added. “I reserve the right as a citizen of India to comment on public events whenever I feel it necessary.
“I am told that some TV Channels used footage from my presence at Mavalankar Hall a week ago to suggest my presence at today’s event. This has left me appalled,” her statement said.
The two-day RGICS event is on the theme of “No peace without freedom; no freedom without peace: securing Nehru’s legacy and India’s future: Agenda for Action.” It was inaugurated today by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the valedictory address will be delivered by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Amid a raging debate over intolerance, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today deplored “blatant violation” of the right to freedom of thought by “some violent extremist groups” and shared the view that it was an “assault on the nation”.
He warned of dangers to the republic if there was no unity and respect for diversity, secularism and pluralism.
“The nation is deeply concerned at the recent tragic instances of blatant violation of the right to freedom of thought, belief, speech and expression in our country by some violent extremist groups.
“The assault or murder of thinkers for no more than disagreement with their views, or (of people) because of the food they eat, or their caste, cannot be justified on any grounds. Nor can the suppression of the right to dissent be allowed,” he said in his inaugural address at a conference here ahead of the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The two-day meet is being held at a time when the legacy of the first Prime Minister is under assault and in the backdrop of Dadri lynching, beef row and other incidents. The incidents have triggered off an award-returning spree by litterateurs, artistes and film-makers.
The senior Congress leader said that all right-thinking people have condemned such incidents in the strongest term as an “assault on the nation”.
Unity and respect for diversity, secularim and pluralism are vital of the survival of the republic, he said, adding that peace is essential not only for human existence and survival, but also for economic and intellectual growth and development.
“Capital is likely to be frightened away by conflict”, Singh, who is known as the architect of India’s economic reforms, observed in an apparent message to the Narendra Modi dispensation that is working hard to seek investment and promoting “Made In India”.
He said suppression of dissent or free speech poses a grave danger for economic development. “There can be no free market without freedom.
Eminent historian Irfan Habib today took a dig at detractors of Jawaharlal Nehru saying people whose ideological ancestors had no role in the national movement are trying to negate the role and contribution of the first Prime Minister of India.
“Today national movement is not only forgotten, but violently misrepresented… particularly the legacy of Nehru… by those people whose ideological ancestors go back to persons… having no role in national movement,” the 84- year-old scholar said in his keynote address at a national conference here ahead of the 125th birth anniversary of Nehru.
“In fact, they had opposed it… They are trying to find heroes in it… They are particularly trying to negate the role of the Father of the Nation as also Jawaharlal Nehru,” Habib said.
According to him, in such a backdrop it is important to underline the contribution of Nehru as an individual to the national movement.
He regretted that the Karachi resolution has been “forgotten by the organisation which gave it”.
The resolution, which spelt out the vision of a secular and socialist India, was drafted by Nehru after the suspension of the civil disobedience movement. Mahatma Gandhi added to it an important provision that of scaling down of rural indebtedness.
Habib noted that though Nehru was not a religious man and not interested in afterlife, Gandhi was extremely religious and still he “totally accepted” Nehru as his political successor.
This point has also been made by Sardar Patel, he said.
Habib said that it was because of Nehru that millions of farmers got the ownership of the land that they were tilling and as long as they have got the land, he will “live”.
The historian lamented that the corporate sector has been “actually ungrateful” to the role and contribution of Nehru.
He said late industrialist G D Birla had hailed the second Five Year Plan contending that the private sector could manufacture consumer goods as it is working in key areas where private capital is not there.
He also made a strong plea to build up platforms to protect the legacy of Nehru, “even if there cannot be electoral alliances.”
Insisting that dominance of the corporate sector was bad for the health of the nation, Habib said India’s welfare is not welfare of the corporate sector and these are two distinct things.