Defending Institutions to Defend Democracy


Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 6:30 PM

(L - R) Kumar Ketkar, M Damodaran, Yashwant Sinha, Rama Bijapurkar, Chintan Chandrachud

(L - R) Kumar Ketkar, M Damodaran, Yashwant Sinha, Rama Bijapurkar, Chintan Chandrachud

In his last speech to the Constituent Assembly in 1949, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, propounded several strictures to the people of India to sustain the hard-fought and newly won, independence and democracy. While quoting John Stuart Mill, he cautioned the people “not to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with the power which enables him to subvert their institutions.”
India’s democracy is its most important appeal, not only amongst Indians but foreign investors and nations wanting to partner with India and Indian corporations. For democracy to thrive, it is essential that the national institutions uphold the values of the constitution and continue to function as independent bodies of investigation and inquiry. Institutional autonomy is, however, not devoid of accountability. It requires a consultative and collaborative approach with the government.
From the proclamation of Emergency by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in June 1975 that lasted for 19 months, and the sweeping changes brought by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1977, the creation of the National Advisory Council in 2004 that undermined the status of the Union Cabinet as the advisor to the Prime Minister, to the recent reports of questionable employment growth data, there have been instances of ruling political parties interfering with the authority of institutions. Parties forming the central government, are often inclined to let the relentless electoral cycles impact policy decisions. How can national institutions stay faithful to their mandates while reflecting flexibility in dealing with current challenges?

Join us for a discussion on the responsibility of the government in respecting the independence of our democratic institutions with Yashwant Sinha, former Minister of Defence and External Affairs, Kumar Ketkar, veteran journalist and Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, M Damodaran, former Chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India, and Chintan Chandrachud, Associate at Quinn Emanuel, London moderated by Rama Bijapurkar, independent management consultant.

This is the second programme in our India Elections Series, wherein we will be discussing the themes of governance, leadership, and institutions in the run-up to the General Elections.

Yashwant Sinha

Yashwant Sinha is a former Union Minister of Finance and External Affairs. He has steered the country out of several crises, including the East Asian Crisis of 1997 and the sanctions that the US and other countries imposed on India in 1998 after the nuclear tests. He was a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party before he quit in April 2018. In 2015, he was awarded Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest civilian distinction of France.

Kumar Ketkar

Kumar Ketkar is a veteran journalist and a sitting Member of Parliament of the Indian National Congress in the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra. He has been writing for leading newspapers and participated as a panelist on prominent news channels. In the past, he has reported major international events like the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, from Moscow, the unification of Germany in 1990, etc. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001.

M Damodaran

M Damodaran has held a number of important positions in the Central and State Governments and in India’s financial sector, including Chairman, Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), where he introduced improved corporate governance practices, Chairman, Unit Trust of India (UTI), Chairman, Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), where he successfully led the turnaround efforts, and Chief Secretary, Government of Tripura.

Chintan Chandrachud

Chintan Chandrachud is an associate in Quinn Emanuel’s London office. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, tax litigation, and international arbitration. He writes for the Indian Express and The Hindu and is the author of "Balanced Constitutionalism: Courts and Legislatures in India and the United Kingdom" (Oxford University Press 2017). He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge on the subject of judicial review in India and the United Kingdom. He also holds graduate degrees from Oxford and Yale.

Rama Bijapurkar

Rama Bijapurkar is an independent management consultant, a visiting faculty at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and co-founder of think tank and fact tank People Research on India’s Consumer Economy and Citizen Environment, which provides “people level” data and insights for use in business strategy and public policy  ( Rama has served on the boards of several of India’s blue-chip companies, including ICICI Bank, National Payment Corporation of India, Bharat Petroleum, Crisil, Infosys etc.


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Event Details

Wed 27 Feb 2019
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai 400018

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