Report: 8th Young Thinkers Meet 2019 ‘New India – Ideas, Concepts, and Contestations’

The 8thedition of Young Thinkers Meet (YTM) was organised by India Foundation from 19-21 July 2019 on the picturesque banks of Chilika Lake, Odisha. The theme for this year’s meet was ‘New India – Ideas, Concepts, and Contestations’. India Foundation’s flagship event of YTM aims to be a VicharSangam or a confluence of thoughts of young intellectuals and thought leaders from all corners of India hailing from varied walks of life who come together under a single roof to discuss and deliberate on issues facing modern India. Like the previous editions, this year as well almost 80 young delegates from across the length and breadth of India participated in the meet, representing a wide variety of ideas, beliefs and cultures. Over the course of several sessions, talks, and panel discussions, the delegates closely interacted with eminent dignitaries from Indian public life on themes of New-Age politics, welfare of minorities, Liberals and Indian national identity, Indo-Pak relations etc. among others.
The meet began on 19 July with an inaugural address by Shri Ram Madhav, National General Secretary, BJP and Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation. The address focused on India’s civilisational values and philosophy which must for the foundations of the New India. He set out a grand vision and a pragmatic roadmap to achieve the collective dream of New India, based on the right blend of old and new ideas. The first day of the meet culminated with an engaging debate amongst the selected delegates on the topic of ‘Security & welfare of minorities in India’. Delegates from religious, linguistic, and other socio-cultural minority groups contributed diverse perspectives on the issue, presenting a range of ideas on enhancing the welfare, security and assimilation of their communities in the mainstream.

Day 2 began with an early morning Yoga session in the soothing atmosphere near Lake Chilika. Thereafter, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Minister of Steel, Government of India, who also hails from coastal Odisha, talked at length on the rich historical, cultural and trade relations of Odisha with rest of the world. In ancient times, Chilika Lake had greatly facilitated these exchanges and was India’s Gateway to South East Asia. Shri Pradhan also shared significant insights on the dynamics of global energy geo-politics and India’s preparedness in handling the same to ensure energy security in the country.

Following the address by Shri Pradhan, the delegates made presentations on a wide range of topics including revival of BhartiyaMandirSampada, challenges and threats to Indian Democracy and Indic indigenous knowledge systems, to presentations on policy debates of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and Ease of Doing Business in India. The presentations were followed by a debate on ‘Equal treatment vs. Equal Privileges’. The deeply challenging issue of reservation on the basis of gender, socio-economic backgrounds and caste lines were raised while the delegates aimed to arrive at a rational consensus on the issue. This debate was followed with a panel discussion on the theme of ‘New Politics for New India’ chaired by Shri Ram Madhav. The eminent panelists for the session were Shri Jayant Sinha, MP – Hazaribagh, Jharkhand and Shri ArvindDharmapuri, MP Nizamabad, Telangana. The session provided a unique perspective on Indian politics with inputs from Shri Jayant Sinha, a seasoned politician and Shri AravindDharmapuri, a newly elected parliamentarian serving his first term as an MP.

This session was followed by the keynote address delivered by Shri V Bhagaiah, Sah-Sarakaryavah of RSS. Bhagaiahji’s free flowing words gave an insight to his unbounded erudition, his profound intellect and his extensive experience in serving the nation. Among other things he spoke on the pressing need for amalgamating Rajya Shaktiand Samaj Shakti for the welfare of the nation. His address was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Future of Nationalists and Liberals in India’ chaired by Shri Ram Madhav, the panelists being Shri Baijayant Jay Panda, Vice President, BJP and Tejasvi Surya, MP, Bengaluru South, Karnataka.

Thereafter, another round of presentations was made by young delegates based on their expertise and experiences. Post the presentations, the evening session began with a heated discussion on the topic ‘Unease of Indian Liberals with the Indian National Identity’. Panelists included AnandRanganathan, Associate Professor, Author and Journalist, Shubhrastha, Political commentator and Fellow at India Foundation and Swadesh Singh, Assistant Professor, Delhi University. The day ended with a mock parliament session chaired by Shri Baijayant Jay Panda and moderated by Shri Ram Madhav on two contentious issues of Indo-Pak relations and the much debated proposed bill on country wide National Register for Citizens. The session unleashed the budding parliamentarians among the delegates who made balanced rhetorical points and also displayed terrific political acumen in articulating their stands on the topics.

The final day of the meet began with a boating excursion to Ma Kalijai Island in Lake Chilika. Post the excursion, the delegates gave another round of thought provoking presentations on topics related to economics, history, politics, and other social issues. The final session of the meet was on the theme ‘India’s Chiti’ (India’s consciousness) delivered by Shri SwapanDasgupta, MP, RajyaSabha. True to his style, Shri SwapanDasgupta delivered an interesting talk which was both deeply stirring and spiritually elevating. The 7th edition of Young Thinkers Meet ended on this note giving much fodder for thought to the young participants who will make the building blocks of New India.

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