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Nehru's contribution to making of India recalled

 2015-11-06 21:02:20.0

nehru--621x414 New Delhi: �Noted thinkers and activists on Friday recalled independent India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's contribution to the making of the nation and the concepts of freedom and women's equality. Speaking on the issue of equality at a national conference on 'No peace without freedom, no freedom without peace: Securing Nehru's vision and India's future', Dalit writer and activist Kancha Ilaiah said that Narendra Modi, before he became the prime minster, remarked that if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have been the first PM, India would have been different but he disagreed. "I would say that but for Nehru as the first prime minister, B.R. Ambedkar would not have been allowed to write the first constitution," said the 63-year-old scholar.�The two-day conference is part of Nehru's 125th birth anniversary celebrations.�Former diplomat and union minister Shashi Tharoor, who spoke on the issue of democracy, said: "The foundations of democracy were laid by Nehruji. He ensured that judiciary's independence was recognised as a vital part. He always wanted to strengthen the institutions of the country and had great respect for parliament." Noted historian Mukul Kesavan, who was the first speaker of the session, said: "We are living through a time where freedom is challenged by intolerant majoritarianism.�"Several Indian states have passed misleadingly named freedom of religion acts that are designed to curb individual's freedom," he said and advised them to recall the Nehruvian philosophy of freedom.�Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who also spoke on the issue of freedom, said: "We need to fight forces trying to destroy the very foundations of freedom in our country. "Nehruji used to write regular columns for the Statesmen anonymously. He once wrote in a column to be beware of the 'authoritarian Nehru'. The then prime minister questioned himself so as to keep a check on himself. We need to recreate that moment. Be it any kind of politics, we need to return to the fundamental ideas of the constitution." Talking about gender inequality in the country, Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover said there was "selective silence" on economic and social subjugation of women. "Today, when we talk about women, it almost becomes a formality. Even in the constitution, there was an understanding of a formal equality rather than a substantive equality. If we seriously need to talk about equality for women, it has to start from home," she said. (IANS)

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