India’s best known journalist and author , Mr B. G. Verghese, spoke to the students of the Indira Group of Institutes, Pune on Tuesday, on the subject : Economic Gains and Social Strains-The Way Out. Organised by Tapasya, the triannual journal brought out by the Group, the Series intends to bring India’s best known minds, from the world of business, politics, arts, journalism, and science and technology, to interact with the students on the substance of their work during their lifetime. The most credible of Indians who have an unimpeachable credibility and record of service to the nation are invited under the Series in order that they become role models for the youth and to inspire them to take up nation building as a mission. The Series was initiated in 2009 with the inauguration by Mr R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons Ltd.
The address was an exhibition of sheer erudition and experience, and a display of hope and optimism for the country’s future. Mr Verghese was at pains to underline the need for India’s economic progress to become more equitable and distribution of wealth more rational if the stresses which we are presently undergoing are to be removed. He opined that although on the whole India has been growing at a rate of approx 9% in the last few years, the fact is that the rich have been growing at around 18 to 20%,while the poorest among Indians are hardly outside the pale of the poverty line, growing at a dismal 1 to 2%. This is unacceptable, said Mr Verghese and could have dangerous repercussions for the country as a whole. Regional differences, class differences, caste and communal divides are a direct consequence of economic sufferance and if these distinctions are to be eliminated, equity in distribution of wealth is the only way. He made a scathing attack on obscene displays of wealth by a few which only aggravates tensions in society.
Mr Verghese, has recently released his 18th book, First Draft, an autobiography which also serves as a history of post-independence India. He was closely associated with the Indian Administration as Information Adviser to Mrs Indira Gandhi and to the Defence Minister in 2001. He has also been a member of the Kargil Review committee which suggested measures to strengthen India’s external security. The question and answer session that followed his address turned out to be a lively discussion on all these topics.