Events : Economic, Development & Social Issues

Panel discussion on "Nationalists and Liberals : A Contradiction?"

Held on Thursday, 18th January, 2018 at 6.30 PM

Bangalore International Centre had organised a Panel Discussion on “Nationalists and Liberals : A Contradiction?” on Thursday, 18th January, 2018 at 6.30 PM.   The Panelists were Prof. Ashutosh Varshney, Prof. Srikrishna Ayyangar and Prof. Sudhir Krishnaswamy. Justice N Santosh Hegde chaired and moderated the event.     

The country is increasingly polarised which is a cause for concern. It was necessary to go beyond the rhetorical statements and sentiments to understand and analyse the apparent contradictions that are dividing us. The three eminent and well-informed panellists and an outstanding jurist looked at this issue during the panel discussion.

Prof. Ashutosh Varshney through a power point presentations explained about different types of Nationalism and Liberalisms:

It is not nationalism per se that threatens liberalism.  It is ethnic nationalism that does so.

Civic nationalism is compatible with liberal freedoms

When ethnic nationalism acquires a populist core, it is doubly threatening to liberal freedoms, for it becomes distrustful of constitutional oversight, and seeks imposition of electoral logic to all aspects and institutions of the polity.

That is unfortunately where India has been since 2014.  Unless checked, it might be headed deeper in that direction.

Prof. Srikrishna Ayyangar dealt with populism and how that is impacting the debate about liberalism and nationalism. Prof. Sudhir Krishnaswamy spoke whether liberal nationalism was possible. He made an interesting data based observation that across four states among higher educated, urban citizens there was a correlation with majoritarian nationalism. Justice Santosh Hegde spoke about the Constitutional aspects and made the case for reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech provided in the Constitution.