President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy at an impressive function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here on Thursday.
The Chennai-based centre will serve as a platform for exploration of ideas and themes that will illuminate the complexity of India's political life but not take positions on the issues as a newspaper would.
Speaking on the occasion, Mukherjee hoped that the centre would fulfill the need in public discourse by going into the various dimensions of the problems we face in the most objective manner. It would also strengthen the basic roots of our democracy by promoting reasoned debate and dissent.
The function was attended by several dignitaries including former Prime Minister HD Deva Gowda, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, NDA chairman LKAdvani, Dr Karan Singh, CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury and top diplomats, bureaucrats, industrialists and media personalities.
Dr Malini Parthasarathy, one of the directors of Kasturi and sons, the publishers of The Hindu will head the centre. According to her, the centre's three streams of activity will be to undertake research on current topics, promote dialogue and debate and hold track-II type round tables on internal conflicts.
The centre will not just be a "discourse enabler" or a "marketplace of ideas". "We are clear that we are promoting civic identity as the primary component of nationalism and we intend for our research to re-energise basic democratic values of pluralism and social equity. We also believe our mission is to educate Indians that citizenship of this republic is the only valid identity in the public sphere. We believe this set of fundamental values should be strengthened for a liberal society to really take root here."
An advisory board comprising eminent scholars and public intellectuals such as Prof Zoya Hasan, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Sunil Khilnani, Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund, Yogendra Yadav, Navin Chawla and Gurcharan Das will guide the centre. The management includes N Ram, N Ravi and Parthasarathy.