Eighth P K Gopalakrishnan Memorial Lecture

The Lecture started with Prof Sunil Mani, Director welcoming all to the Eighth P K Gopalakrishnan Memorial Lecture. He pointed out that Prof Gopalakrishnan was an eminent sociologist and economist who played an important role in Kerala especially during 1970-80. He was secretary to the Government of Kerala during the Chief Ministership of Sri Achutha Menon, and was also instrumental in setting up a number of institutions supporting technological change and public policy making in Kerala which also included the CDS. He played a fundamental role in helping Prof K N Raj in setting up the CDS. Dr Gopalakrishnan had taken his masters in social science from the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague followed by a PhD in Economics from the University of Amsterdam. A good economic administrator at the state level he was instrumental in establishing the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment which is functioning well thanks to the strong intellectual leadership given by Dr  Gopalakrishnan. Prof Mani pointed out that there are two lecture series in his memory, one at the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment and the other at the CDS which started in 2004. He also welcomed the family members of Dr P K Gopalakrishnan and thanked them for their generous support for the lecture.

The focus of the lecture centred on the fact that every concerned citizen has been concerned about the creation post-2014 of a climate of intolerance, and of threats to India’s federal democracy, which though imperfect has been the country’s precious possession, envied by much of the world. The lecture focused on two aspects of the subject. Firstly, does India’s modern history offer lessons that may be relevant for the preservation of tolerance and democracy? In addressing this question, Prof Gandhi draws upon the findings in his recent research into the making of modern South India. Secondly,  on whether South India has a role, even perhaps a distinctive one, in efforts to preserve what the nation has cherished and, if possible, to improve upon it.

After the lecture, the floor was thrown open for an interactive session with students, research scholars and those from the audience. In reply to several questions from the audience, Prof Gandhi said that as history moves on, it runs into aberrations and blocks, but ultimately, the arc of history is in favour of liberty, equality and inclusion. He also called for initiatives that advocated mutual concern, respect and reconciliation among cultures and communities. On the role of south India in a pan –Indian scenario, he said the south should ask itself why its talented children had not tried to lead India as a whole.

At the end of the discussions, Prof Sunil Mani thanked Prof Gandhi for his inspiring lecture and once again thanked the family members of Dr P K Gopalakrishan.

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