The Bangalore International Centre (BIC) organised an interactive discussion on the book “Imagining India” on Friday, 12th Deember, 2008 at 6.30 pm. Mr. Nandan Nilekani, author of the book was also present and answered the questions of the audience. Prof. S L Rao, Chairman, ISEC and moderated the discussions.
In a lucid exposition, Mr. Nilekani traversed the history of India since independence from the view point of ideas in Execution, Ideas in Battle and Ideas for safeguarding the Future. As he enunciated the ideas in execution (like the quest for total illiteracy, infrastructure, urbanisation etc.) were born with soaring idealism, but executed with poor planning and half-hearted implementing agencies. Same was true with ideas in battle (like Higher Education, Labour Reforms etc) and ideas for safeguarding the future (Energy, Environment, Health etc.) However he was not pessimistic about the future. He was confident about the younger generation becoming more and more aware about the immediate and emerging needs and playing an active and decisive role in public governance in the coming years.
There was an in depth discussion after the presentation made by Mr. Nilekani. There were some who found fault with his “Unbridled Optimism”. There were others who thought that his criticism of Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India, was less than fair. However, at the end, there was a general consensus that with more and more young people, like Mr. Nilekani, coming forward to shape the contours of civil society in our country, the end of the tunnel need not be a distant dream. It was indeed a stimulating evening.