Institute of Harmony and Peace Studies, New Delhi, organized a Discussion on ‘Current Concerns’ among a small group of scholars at IHPS Conference Room, Dwarka, New Delhi, on 04 June 2016. Dr M. D. Thomas, Founder Chairman and Director of the Institute, chaired and moderated the session.

Prof. Shashi Tiwari, Prof. Hanif Khan Shastri, Prof. Suhas Nambiar, Dr Chand Bharadwaj and Mr Ramesh Kumar, Mr Naveen Jha and Dr M.D. Thomas participated in the discussion.

By way of situating the discussion, the chair affirmed that responsible citizens and scholars require discussing and deliberating on the current concerns of the country periodically, along with regular classicalthemes. Such discussions are occasions of sharpening one's awareness of the ground realities and of getting empowered to make strategic response to the pressing concerns.

Citing the discussion in hand as one among a series of such exercises, he mentioned some of the areas of the Indian society that cause concerns, such as ethical, religious, cultural, gender, caste, political andgovernance.

Prof. Shashi Tiwari referred to the recent Mathura incident and pointed out that several so called religious gurus pretend to be gods themselves, emerge as power centres and exploit and victimize the poor, the illiterate and the weak-minded. This is a major challenge to the wellbeing of the country.

Prof. Suhas Nambiar elaborated several concerns, like gender insensitivity, caste discrimination, racism, bad governance, suppression of freedom of expression, insecurity of the people and rift between governance and government.

Mr Ramesh Kumar shed light on a series of issues, like economic disparity, poor governance, criminalization of politics, degradation of human values, erosion of ethics, erratic food habits and life style, slow down in Indian manufacturing and excessive religious activism.

Prof. Hanif Khan Shastri said that Indian people are more emotional. They created several gods and goddesses to fulfil their wishes and so people have fallen prey to the systemic superstitions. He affirmed that poverty is a major cause for joining terrorist outfits. He referred to some of the satanic powers that are active in the society.

Mr Naveen Jha observed that basic problems like poverty and illiteracy make a considerable portion of people fall a victim of the so called god-men and women of the country.

Dr Chand Bharadwaj suggested awareness building and citizen journalism through e-communication as ways of conveying message to the government and the society. He opined that spiritual pursuits like meditation also could help resolve the social concerns.

Dr M. D. Thomas raised concern over a large number of ill-equipped persons at the helm of affairs at diverse levels of the educational and other sectors. While trying to teach the younger generation values, the bad example given by the seniors including those of public life requires to be addressed, he added. Our country is short of role models, he regretted.

The house unanimously underscored the sad predicament of the country, in which several ancient ideals remain mere theories, many sweet-sounding slogans do not reach the grass roots and therefore integral development hangs about as a distant dream. All the same, there was an undivided agreement on performing one's duty to the society as enlightened and conscientious citizens, whatever is the volume of the outcome.

The discussion commenced at 16.30 hours and concluded at 18.30 hours, followed by refreshments. The discussion was a worthwhile exercise, in terms of awakening a deeper realization of the state of affairs around us and motivation for furthering the efforts to make the situation better.