We are lucky to have a secretary in Rajya Sabha, 1991 IAS and Alumni of IIM Bangalore. I’m sure he will feel embarrassed and he’s not prepared for it but he has made a difference. He has made a massive difference in my outlook in dealing with the affairs of Rajya Sabha and the difference is qualitatively very productive. I thought therefore, I will solicit an invitation and express my deep sense of gratitude to this institute which benefits the Upper House, the Council of States.
I would like to share some thoughts with you. I am one of you. Why? I am a project of education. I was in a small village that didn’t have electricity, didn’t have a road. I was lucky to get a scholarship when I was in class five and went to Sainik School, Chittorgarh and that changed my life.
My one piece of advice based on my experiences is – have no tension, have no stress and never fear to make a mistake. The moment you fear making a mistake, you will not be enterprising. Historically, if you analyze all developments that have shaped good things in society and humanity, it was never in the first attempt.
Secondly, the greatest injustice we can inflict on humanity is to have a brilliant idea but not to speak about it. And second is to have a brilliant idea, speak about it but not to execute it.
Look at our Prime Minister, a new Parliament will be there in two years. Could you ever imagine the existing Parliament building took much longer to build. It occurred to the honorable Prime Minister that we need to have a new parliament.
I was elected to Parliament in 1989. I was a union Minister in 1989. What I had in my power were two things – 50 Gas connections which I could give to anyone. Imagine the power of a parliamentarian of the largest mother of democracy that he took great pride in giving 50 gas connections in a year to anyone. Now look at the present dispensation. 170 million gas connections given free to those households that need it. Isn’t it mind boggling?
During COVID the Prime Minister took three steps. One, People’s curfew, it was the earliest most innovative mechanism, as governor I was part of it. Some people ridiculed it, what is this? Where did he get this crazy idea from but then in retrospect it was the world’s most significant public awareness program without the regulatory regime of the state coming into force. People came forward. That was great. He made us aware we have a danger coming. COVID pandemic impacted humanity. He thought innovation could be the only way out. It was ridiculed.
Reflect now because young minds who are here, you are the future. You want to take this country on your shoulders. You are warriors of 2047. What India will be in 2047, will be determined by your efforts, so take note of it. The First reaction was, where is the COVID? It’s all politics. But COVID did come. Why don’t you get vaccines from outside? Why do you engage in innovation? Now, it will be foolhardy not to believe in your wisdom, your talent and to subscribe to the talent of someone else. They said no, if this vaccine wouldn’t succeed there is another vaccine and that vaccine is getting a good hit globally. Ultimately, where are we? The world is looking at us. How could 1.4 billion people deal with COVID? How could you administer 220 Crore doses and all digitally mapped. No country in the world has been able to do it.
When I made my first visit abroad, lightheartedly, I said in my country, the leadership didn’t care about the paper industry. The person looking at me was slightly surprised. What does that mean? I said the paper industry would have thrived if we had certified on paper. 220 crore certificates to be traded on paper several times, the paper Industry was bound to prosper. We didn’t care for that, we cared for technology.
Our COVID management is respected globally. And why? Because of the COVID warriors.
I was ringing the bell during covid at the call of the Prime Minister. I was doing it for those who were sacrificing, taking risk of their own lives to protect our lives. That was a great gesture. What we have achieved in this country, I put it in a nutshell. One, economy, in September 2022 we had a milestone development. We became the fifth largest global economy. That’s one significant achievement: the more significant, we overtook our erstwhile colonial rulers.
Most of you are so well informed and more informed than I am, by the turn of the decade we will be the third largest economy of the planet. How will this come about? This has not come about by established industrialists, it has come about because there are people like you who have stepped in the larger world of startups and they have impacted the development massively. And that is why our startups are attracting investment from the giants in the industry and they get publicity, that yes a top industrialist has invested in that startup.
We have an ecosystem by virtue of affirmative policies by the government that you are now able to fully exploit your potential. Money is not a constraint. And one who is talking to you started as a lawyer and made a career out of it and people say it was a successful career. You only have to think out of the box and you have at your back a stamp of reputation of IIM Bangalore.
Secondly, please always keep your nation first. We proud Indians take pride in our achievements and accomplishments. We must not be on the backfoot. Can we face a situation that anyone from outside, the gentleman will have backers, beneficiaries, fiscal parasites, sleeper cells and call my country names and I will quietly take it down. NO.
No one has credentials in the world to question our democratic credentials. No country is as vibrant a democratic nation as we are particularly in the point of freedom of expression. Where in the world will you find a Supreme Court that acts with lightning speed? Where in the world you find a Government that executes big and shows it on ground.
We have Vande Bharat but the only news we get, thanks to our journalist friends, is either inauguration or stones being pelted. You look around on what is happening. But if we start looking around only to the homework that is left to be done and not the homework that has been done then perhaps we’ll be inviting pessimism and that is not the best of psychological steps to be taken.
There are a number of achievements that the world is stunned by. For example, global economies, look all around and figures come virtually every day in the pink papers, are growing at a pace much less than ours. We have to be extremely careful about a sinister kind of politics. That is so to be practiced from within and outside the country to tarnish and taint the fair name of our governance, democratic polity and institutions.
Tell me when in the world have you seen an investigation continuing for two decades? An investigation controlled by the highest court of the land and, mark my words, now that 20 year investigation at all levels trial court, High Court, SIT, Supreme Court as it culminated into a judgment of the Supreme Court in 2022. And we have a documentary they did not think was relevant for 20 years? No, 20 years wasn’t relevant to them, after the highest court of the land, an independent court mechanism of the country came to a firm conclusion in 2022. You plan to play politics the other way around and you want a citizen of this country believing in nationalism to keep quiet?
Can you really engage into some kind of flouting of narratives? Can you dump information in this country which suits you and we will not be in a position to neutralize it? I’m sure the industry knows the reason behind anti-dumping? To save the domestic industry. Anti dumping is a known mechanism in economics that a large industrial house in the world wants to nip in the bud growth of the sector in a particular country by dumping. Maybe Maruti wouldn’t have been a success. If there could have been a dumping of 200,000 cars at the time with a much lower price. Similarly the dumping of information…we cannot compensate. For example, in a simple words I would say a devil can’t be allowed to take aid of scriptures because in doing so, you are challenging our intellect that we are totally hoodwinked by your exercise which is sinister and aimed only to damage us. I want young minds to think about it. I want young minds to focus on it.
There is one gentleman whose claim to fame is only money; his second claim to fame is he uses that money. His third claim to fame is that they use this money successfully to take on central institutions like banking. He forgets India is the mother of democracy; the largest democracy. How dare he think about it. His backers, his beneficiaries, his fiscal parasites as I said earlier, or his sleeper cells; we need total support to expose that.
No one believes in freedom of expression more than I do for the simple reason I am chairman Raja Sabha; it is my prime obligation to ensure that every member of Rajya Sabha gets full freedom of expression, our Constitution guarantees it. Article 105 says a Member of Parliament whatever he may say on the floor of the house, there can be no civil action or criminal action. He has full immunity and that’s a great privilege. 140 crore people even if they’ve heard one of them or many of them about the statement of a Member of Parliament made on the floor of the house. They are helpless. They cannot go to court because there is a constitutional immunity to them.
Now Can I allow anyone under that guard to make any statement about you, about your institute, about an individual, about an industry unverified and un-corroborated.
Being part of a campaign or otherwise, setting a flouted narrative? No. This immunity comes with a great responsibility and a deep sense of accountability. I cannot allow Rajya Sabha to be an Akkada of free fall of information making allegations against anyone. You’re entitled to make any statement but authenticate it, be responsible about it.
Now if I do that there are some celebrated newspapers also there are editorials that the Vice President is gagging expression. I want you to think about it. Should I allow any allegation, uncorroborated, to ruin the reputation of the country of an individual /of a sector or an institution like yours? If someone says this institution is going down because the director is acting at the behest of someone else, and some other agency is doing it, will I allow it? I will say YES, authenticate. And if it doesn’t authenticate, then there is breach of privilege it means that gentleman can lose his membership.
I expected the media and intelligentsia to understand my point of view. I as Chairman have to balance the interest of 140 crore people and the enormous constitutional power given to the gentleman will hold the floor in the house. I will have to put it to you now again to young brilliant minds as we may not be around in 2047. But I have no doubt with your intellect, commitment and direction, India will be at peak. I therefore want you to activate your minds on one point.
We have a great constitution. The Constituent Assembly dealt with divisive issues, contentious issues for three years. But there was not a single disturbance or disruptions; there was no shouting at all, there were no placards; no one came to the well of the house. Now if I tell, as the Chairman Rajya Sabha, to the Member of Parliament, Sir, Let us not outrage the sublimity and the sense of democracy. It is the Temple of democracy. It is meant for debate, dialogue, discussion and deliberation. Can I make it into Akkada of disruption or disturbance? No. Every minute in Rajya Sabha costs crores. Every penny spent in your institution goes for national welfare, likewise Every penny in Rajya Sabha should also go for national welfare. But what I find is, people take it as routine “आज house नहीं चला, disruption हो गया, नारेबाजी हो गई”.
Why should there be no naming and shaming of those who bring about such a dismal scenario; polluting our temples of democracy. And if you think, all of you, that I must allow everyone to disrupt the house, I salute you and your command, but if we think otherwise, the larger democracy deserves a more decorous handling of parliamentary affairs in the productive time.
Let me share one secret with you, I was parliamentary affairs minister in 1989. Governments are very happy if there is any disruption in the house like students who don’t believe in studies are very happy if there is a strike, because they will not have to answer questions, they will not have to answer that debate. But I am not a stakeholder either with a government or any opposition, I represent you there. I’m a stakeholder in your future. I look at my own life, how I walked on my feet or six-seven kilometers to another place to go to school.
I therefore, cannot abdicate my constitutional duties in the name of some people calling it that the Chairman is acting in this fashion because they don’t engage in due diligence of homework. But now my job is easy. If I could convince you, then you have power in your hands now to connect with everyone and generate an ecosystem for sharing information.
We don’t want those people who disrupt the house. We don’t want those people who don’t engage in debate, dialogue, discussion and deliberation in the temples of democracy. So my appeal to you is to generate an ecosystem. So that a wholesome scenario gets promoted.
I’ll make one suggestion to the Chairman and the Director of IIM. Alumni are the spinal strength, who will not only help the institution blossom; not only help the students of the institution find placements; not only help carry the reputation of the institution outside; they also serve a large national interest. So I have suggested that the culture of Alumni now must start with all institutions. And the premier institutions must have a confederation of alumni that would be a think tank unrivaled in the world. We must have that confederation of Alumni associations. It will help dual purpose (1) they will be able to say their ideas and come to certain conclusions, and (2), they will magnetically attract others to do the same.
Before I conclude, I have a modest idea and I have Secretary Rajya Sabha to execute it. We will invite students chosen by the Director of Institutes like yours to visit Rajya Sabha (Parliament) and see the deliberations for yourself for two days or three days and try to make your stay as comfortable as possible so that it is productive from all angles. And then you will be able to play a critical role. I’ll say why because your expectations are so huge and when you find that scenario is collapsing and you will be able to generate some kind of a moment so that the largest democracy, the mother of democracy, has a parliament that fructifies the aspirations and dreams of the people at large and you have to be their warriors.
I’m grateful to the Director for affording me this great opportunity and seeing what has come up is an excellent one and you will get full use of it. Best of luck to you. Thank you