Meghnad Desai

15th December 2018

A riveting hourlong session with Lord Meghnad Desai – British economist, politician, author and renowned columnist but very much an Indian at heart – seemed too little to get a full feel of Lord Desai’s ideas and thoughts.

The 64th session with Lord Desai went beyond the allotted time. Though an author of many books, conversationalist Esha Dutta focused mainly only his latest thought-provoking book “Raisina Model” which deals with the subject of high politics. Lord Desai, a Modi admirer-turned-critique shared his views on India – past, present and future.

“We have celebrated 70 years of independence but this book is not a celebratory one,” Lord Desai said at the very outset. This is because he felt that our model of Indian democracy should be revisited and Indianized in the true sense by getting rid of the vestiges of British colonialism which still doggedly persists in India. His main criticism against Prime Minister Modi was that he seemed to “be in a rush” and that he had failed to work in tandem with other partners.

He lamented that Indian Independence failed to satisfy the people’s aspirations and dreams. Responding to a question on activism of Judiciary, Lord Desai said that this was inevitable in a situation where the legislature failed to enact and implement proper laws. On the context of recent reservations for the economically backward sections, Desai said it was a move that should have been taken post Indepence and asserted that since Independence the Indian system had exacerbated the caste system instead of doing away with it.

On yet another query “On India being a superpower?” Lord Desai felt there remained much to accomplish. Even our armed forces are not adequately armed, so how can we think of being a superpower. Also, he mentioned that China had made billions of investments in 24 of the 31 cutting-edge technology areas while India was way behind and it is out of place to compare the two currently. He touched upon many issues ranging from Hindutva, Nagaland insurgency, vigilantism, demonetisation, Emergency, Gau Raksha, misuse of CBI and so on and regaled the audience with his whiff of fresh ideas.

Young industrialist Prashant Bangur, on behalf of Shree Cement and as a guest, felicitated the author and conversationalist Esha Dutta.