Empower all, not just a few:celebrities of the world of letters

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New Delhi, Aug 17 (UNI) The brightest minds of the country are not satisfied at what is India today, the missing link being the mass of poor amidst pockets of affluence.

Poverty is a threat to prosperity anywhere and everywhere, goes an old adage.

But the dismay is that the system has not delivered to the poor, who survive on just a dollar a day. The need of the hour is to empower one and all, not just a few.

It is not an act of charity, but borne out of the democratic credentials of the wonder that is India. Empowering also means sustainable development. A hugely unequal system has the potential to explode.

These views crystalised at an event organised recently by 'NDTV Profit' where the participants included Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, Amitav Ghosh, a renowned novelist and author, Dr R A Mashelkar, former Director General, CSIR, Charles Correa, a Mumbai-based architect, and Piyush Pandey, an ad guru.

Entitled: 'The Unstoppable Indians; Defining a new India,' the occasion was to debate India's agenda for the future. After brief comments, the celebrities of the world of letters interacted with some award winning students who won an essay competition organised by the channel.

"The conclave is essentially a celebration of the Indian spirit", remarked Manvi Dhillon, who moderated the programme.

Said Dr Sen,"I am not a great believer in the magically inspired power of individual success. The focus should be on the betterment of human life and not only on commodity expansion." "The role of society, government and the opposition is important.

The focus should be on the life that people are able to lead and we should be able to justify the ends to ourselves and others," he said.

Mr Correa brought in a comparative approach, saying, "unlike other countries like the United Kingdom and France where London and Paris are their well-known cities, India is balanced with many recognisable cities. Indian cities have incredible potential and are engines of growth." Mr Correa said cities in India form the basis of hope and are changing the nature of societies.

"Unfortunately, they are run in the most terrible system by political parties who rely on real estate for revenues. We need a system that can be held accountable," he said.

Asked how India can seize the moment, Mr Correa said, "India has the advantage of democracy, demography and diversity. It needs to recognise the power of its talent, unquestionably and undisputedly." Mr Correa said India needs to be tolerant towards risk-taking, ambiguity and failure.

To a question as to how privileged members of the Indian society can help remove inequity and poverty, Mr Ghosh said, "India has really changed in the last 15 years. The success of the new generation is based on education. They have a real engagement with society and believe in spending on the social structure." On the youth of modern India finding itself at the crossroads paved by traditional values and Western materialism, Mr Pandey said, "We Indians have a big advantage of having our roots in place. We are born in a country that accepts adaptability. We don't need to choose." UNI GS SG KN1149

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