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Power has to be held accountable and that’s what democracy is all about : Prof. Sunil Khilnani


Mumbai, Feb 24: “A global democratic movement seem to have stalled. Today, there are once again more dictatorship than democracies in the world. ”, said, Prof. Sunil Khilnani, the renowned historian and political scientist, who left the audience thinking as he unravelled the idea of democratic India at the Ideas of India Summit 3.0


Prof. Sunil Khilnani further added, “There’s a tendency to exaggerate the distance between ‘us’ the good democrats and others. Major democracies have covertly been doing undemocratic things. Autocratic oppression and democratic liberties co-exist closely together.”


Speaking in the session, “The Idea of India: Understanding the Many Incarnations” Prof. Sunil Khilnani took the audience on a journey through time, navigating the complex interplay of cultures, ideologies, and socio-political dynamics that shaped democracy in the subcontinent.

Bringing to fore diverse ideas that have shaped the Indian democracy, Prof Khilnani remarked, ““The state doesn’t define our Indian-ness. Unlike the West, we uniquely defined that the people have the right to define their Indian-ness. This is something we should not under-estimate and that we should preserve. Politics is still defining us. The Idea of India is that it allows space for different definitions. Democracy gives us a space to integrate minds.” 

He further added, “Democracy isn’t ridiculously hard to establish it is more difficult to keep. For most of human history, power has been with the monopoly. As citizens we need to be more vigilant to what democratic governments are doing and whether their practices are actually serving the people.”

Commenting about the importance of electoral process, Prof. Khilnani observed, “We seem to have over emphasized the importance of electoral process. The winning of power gives sanction to use of power in different ways. It is the other institutions, which are critical to keep democracy alive.”

On being asked, how he would have rewritten his book ‘Idea of India’ today, Prof. Khilnani remarked,  “I underestimated the sheer dynamism of the Indian economy and the way it has burst into life. Also, it takes two to make democracy work. I would have to delve into knowing where the opposition is now.”

The ABP Network’s ‘Ideas of India’ Summit 3.0 spotlighting the ‘The People’s Agenda’ brought a confluence of ideas and ideators to a common platform celebrating the country’s people and its plurality. The two-day summit hosted policymakers, cultural ambassadors, industry experts, celebrities, business leaders, economists, and leading luminaries to delve into the fundamental ideas of liberty, justice, equality, and diversity that define India, its society, culture, and politics. The meaningful deliberations on diverse topics had the brightest minds across sectors providing insights about the nation’s trajectory and its journey to become Viksit Bharat.

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