Vice President calls for strengthening space for dialogue in public realm
Guwahati, Sep 22: Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday called for strengthening the thriving space for discussion and dialogue in the public realm, suggesting that ‘intolerance of others’ point of view is antithetical to the vision of free exchange of thought’.
Inaugurating the third edition of ‘Lokmanthan,’ a national colloquium organised by Prajna Pravah at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra here, Dhankhar, who was on his maiden visit to the city after being sworn in as the 14th Vice President of the country last month said, “India has a great heritage of debate, discussion and knowledge sharing. Lessons can be drawn from the past to uplift the quality of discussions in the public domain, especially legislatures.”
Dhankhar further said that in the ‘race for one-upmanship and under the constant glare of the public eye, debates – televised or on social media – are turning into cacophonous fighting arenas’.
He called upon the media to take the initiative, introspect, “pass on the mike and let unique, original and marginalised voices come to the mainstream”.
Calling for healthy, open-minded discussions, the Vice President said it is “time to step out of our echo chambers – caused by both social structures and social media algorithms – and let our minds breathe”.
“We must revive the art of listening; we must rediscover the art of dialogue,” he stressed.
Appreciating the organisers of ‘Lokmanthan’ for highlighting the rich cultural ethos of Northeastern India, Dhankhar observed that in their diversity, “the cultural practices of the region resonate with the quintessential Indian values of peace, harmony and universal brotherhood”.
The Vice President underlined the role of intelligentsia in Indian society, referring to how sages advised kings historically on issues of policy and ensured harmony and stability in society.
Calling upon intellectuals to speak upon prevailing issues, he said that “if our intelligentsia decides to opt for silence in the current times, then this very important section of society is bound to be silenced forever. They must freely practice dialogue and deliberation so that societal morality and propriety are preserved”.
Underlining the primacy attached to freedom of expression in the Constitution and the rich quality of Constituent Assembly debates, the Vice President said that they are a testimony to the importance of free-spirited and healthy discussions that India has long cherished.
He also called upon the intellectuals from the civic society to play a proactive role in ensuring a harmonious balance of the three branches of the state – legislature, executive and judiciary – through deliberative mechanisms.
“Democratic values and human rights will certainly blossom with intelligentsia adopting a proactive stance of dialogue and discussion,” he added.
During the event, the Vice President released two books – a souvenir for ‘Lokmanthan’ and a collection of speeches of chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, titled ‘In Pursuit of a Dream’.