“India has an established tradition of ?dialogue? and the Indian society will have to re-learn the tradition itself so that it can become an exemplary society for the world to follow,? said the famous journalist and columnist Shri Mark Tully while delivering the third Chamanlal Memorial Lecture on What India can Teach the West in New Delhi on March 25. Leader of Opposition Shri L.K. Advani was chief guest. Shri A.P. Venkateshwaran, former Foreign Secretary, presided over the function. The lecture was organised by International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS), New Delhi.
Shri Tully, the former BBC correspondent in India, dwelt upon openness, which is at the core of Indian society and the democratic values that are part of the tradition in India. He pointed out that unlike other societies across the world, ?theocracy? is alien to this society because it never existed in India. Mark Tully, who was born in Kolkata, had his education in India for a couple of years and later studied Theology in UK. He was forced to leave India within 24 hours for reporting on the excesses of the ?Emergency rule? by the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi.
Shri Tully said the fight we find amongst various religions should not have happened in the first place. The clash between religions and materialism is the enemy of morality. The present-day materialism, now known as consumerism, has ruined the moral life of many countries, he said. Mark Tully also expressed his anguish at being branded as a soft Hindutva personality by so-called secularists, whom he described as ?secular fundamentalists? who are not open to dialogue.
Addressing the packed National Museum auditorium, Shri Tully drove home the point that India inherited the British colonial administrative system, not the British administrative system. ?So, India will have to change the present administrative system and the earlier this is done the better it will be for this country. There have been no reforms in the system and the bureaucrats still continue with the same colonial mindset, which is hampering the progress of this country. Corruption is one of the factors that holds back this country from being on the top of the world. Bureaucracy and politicians are responsible for this,? he said. He quoted the famous British writer Julius Lipner as saying: ?India is the only country where consensus among different spiritual thoughts is observed.? ?India is indeed capable of being on the top of the world but to be there, India will have to re-learn itself,? he said.
Answering a query from the audience as to how he would feel if he is born as Hindu in his next birth, Shri Tully said it would be his good fortune to be born in this holy land as Hindu, which has the unique quality of tolerance, but he said he did not regret being born as a Christian.
Shri Lal Krishna Advani spoke of his long association with the late Chamanlalji, who, he said, was one of those who influenced his life. Concurring with Shri Tully on the openness of the Hindu society, Shri Advani cited the example of atheism propagated by Charwak, who too was elevated to the status of a saint in India. Shri Advani recalled his interview with a Canadian TV team some time back on the success of Indian democracy. While many other democracies have failed, especially in Asia, India has emerged as the largest and the most open democracy because of the deep tradition of democracy, he explained.
Shri A.P. Venkateshwaran said while West learnt a lot from India, India too needs to learn certain aspects from the West. He emphasised that Indian politicians and bureaucrats need to learn from the West as to how to muster courage to stand up and lead the world.
Shri Vijay Kranti, famous journalist and an expert on Tibet, also spoke at the programme. Shri Shyam Parande, member of International Centre for Cultural Studies, paid tributes to Ma. Chamanlalji and presented a brief introduction of ICCS and its activities. Shri Jai Prakash, Chairman, Surya Foundation, and Shri Sushil Pandit, Chairman of World Organisation of Students and Youth, welcomed the dignitaries. Prominent among those who attended the function were former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, former Governor Shri Kidarnath Sahni and some diplomats from foreign missions.