Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences
Public Lecture Series
40th edition
Monthly talks framed around explorations in and around archives. Discussions by artists, archivists, academics, lawyers, teachers, journalists and others.
Can a State Love its People? Reflections on governance
Harsh Mander
Friday, Aug 13 2021. 6:30pm.
One way to think about governance is as a contract between the citizens and the state, one that relies on trust, caring and civility. The talk is a reflection on a simple question: Can a State and its institutions love its people? In Mahatma Gandhi’s words, can it wipe every tear from every eye? Today, the calamitous pandemic has often revealed States that abandoned their citizens when they most needed them. As we look forward, on the other side of the pandemic, can we imagine - and build - a just and caring state? The talk would draw from personal experience both within and in resistance to the government, unpacking the idea of fraternity in the constitution, and the journey of seven decades of the Indian republic.
Harsh Mander is a human rights and peace worker, writer, columnist, researcher and teacher. He is known most for his work with survivors of mass violence, hunger, homeless persons and street children. Mr Mander has been in public service in a variety of roles throughout his distinguished career. He worked in the Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for almost two decades. He is a founding member of the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information. As a Member of the Prime Minister’s National Advisory Council from June 2010-12, Mander convened the working groups of various bills, including the Food Security Bill, and co-convened the groups on the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, Dalits and Minorities, Tribal Rights, among others. He was the Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food case for twelve years from 2005-17. In these 12 years, he investigated for the Supreme Court starvation deaths, and reviewed implementation and directed public policy reform for advancing the right to food and nutrition in several states in India.
He is the author of ten books, including Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India (Speaking Tiger, 2015), and, more recently, Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India (Penguin Books India, 2019). He teaches courses on poverty and governance at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, the Open Society Internship for Rights and Governance in the European University; and the India Leaders for Social Sector, among others. And in 2017, Mr Mander established and led the national initiative, Karwan e Mohabbat, or Caravan of Love. The Karwan, a wide-based, collaborative civil society initiative of independent individuals, people’s organisations and social movements, is a campaign of continuing journeys of solidarity and conscience to families affected by hate violence across India.
Credits: Text for this biographical note has been excerpted from