Cross-disciplinary debates leave indelible imprint


The concluding day of Festival of Ideas provided yet another unique platform for cross-disciplinary discussions that aimed to dissect the complex interplay of crucial domains like secularism, socio-politics, governance, business and modernity.
As participants engaged in fervent exchanges at the event, organised here by NewsX, TSG and India News that are a part of the ITV Network, it became evident that the platform’s significance lay in its ability to bridge the gaps between seemingly disparate subjects, revealing the intricate threads that connect them on both local and global scales.
In the opening session on “RSS From The Outside” Walter K. Andersen, American academic and author, took on questions on how the organisation could tackle public ignorance about it. “RSS affiliate groups need to interact more with society… it should work to ensure that people are not ashamed of their culture and are proud of what they have achieved.”
The academic also suggested that RSS should play a bigger role as a mediation institution and makes its autonomous affiliates more effective for the larger national good.
Unanimity on India being a plural, multi-cultural and multi religious emerged in another session “The Many Ideas of India”. While a majority of speakers agreed that there could be no unitary idea of India, ICCR president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe asserted that “we are a cultural nation and believe in cultural nationalism.”
While Hinduism was described as an inclusive religion, the ICCR president said, “India is India because the majority of people here are Hindus.” Author David Frawley shared insight on “Modern Hinduism” and the influence of gurus like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda on masses.
Discussions on “India as a cultural super power” added to the discourse on religion and its significance in the contemporary world. The soft power game’s persuasive aspects were reflected upon by author Ashwin Sanghi. He added that India should work on the ability to tell its story and also upgrade its hard power in terms of upgradation of the military capabilities. Creation of an Indian translation agency for translating Indian literature was suggested by poet Abhay Kumar for expanding the nation’s soft power.
Lok Sabha elections in 2024 and the challenges before Rahul Gandhi for inspiring his party and Opposition parties to disrupt BJP’s 2024 plans were the highlights of the discourse on political agenda.
Two psephologists Sanjay Kumar, co-director, Lokniti, CSDS, and Yashwant Deshmukh, founder editor, C-Voter, agreed that, going by the current scenario, there were very little chances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi not returning to power in 2024. During the session “Narrative 2024”, the panelists agreed that the political narrative built by parties has overshadowed the issue of performance.
Deshmukh praised the BJP’s narrative but cautioned that the party’s “Double Engine” governance slogan had flopped miserably. On suggestions for Rahul Gandhi to boost his popularity and emerge as a strong challenger for Modi, the psephologists suggested that he needs to continue working harder.
BJP Rajya Sabha member and in charge of Haryana unit Biplab Kumar Deb was joined by his party colleagues who, during a number of sessions during the Festival, expressed confidence that Modi will return as the PM next year. Deb said the 2024 election would be fought on the issue of development, including modern railway stations, Vande Bharat trains and technological advances showcased by the Chandrayan’s moon landing. On the issue of the idea of India, BJP spokesman Gaurav Bhatia said, “India is an idea, whose time has come. The idea is India, the idea is Narendra Modi.”
In the “Mission 2024” session, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi, in his poetic style, blasted the Opposition parties and gave a quick look into the social welfare-dominated agenda of NDA in 2024 elections. He touched upon the Modi government’s Pakistan policy that “terror and talks can’t go together”, the Opposition parties’ corruption-riddled background, attempts by some parties to mislead Muslims and the threats to Opposition unity after Congress’ revival after Karnataka polls.
Discussion between politicians like Dinesh Trivedi and Abhishek Manu Singhvi on “One Party Rule versus Coalition Government” added to the electoral debate, while jurists like Mahesh Jethmalani and Vivek Tankha shared their insights on the current initiatives on legal reforms and decriminalisation.
While former LG of Puducherry and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi highlighted her work ethic and shared her experience with fearless governance, filmmaker and author Tahira Kashyap shared her views on women-centric characters. She also urged women to follow one’s passion and described cinema as an agent of change.
Cinema and OTT’s co-existence was also up for discussion along with the debate on the struggles of the next generation of actors like Shriya Pilgaonkar and Babil Khan during separate sessions.
Influencers Himani Chaudhary, Naveen Singh, Devanshu Mahajan and Soundrya Thakur talked about their success and the mantra behind remaining connected with millions of followers.