Event ReportsPublished on May 21, 2009
Twenty-four undergraduate students, studying history, journalism, economics, political science, and commerce, in different DU colleges, such as Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Hansraj, Hindu, Indraprastha, LSR, Miranda House, Ramjas, and Sri Venkateswara, took part in the workshop.
ORF-DU summer workshop on good governance

The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in collaboration with the Delhi University (DU) successfully conducted the second summer workshop for undergraduate students of Delhi University from 18th of May to 3rd of June 2009. The theme of this year’s workshop was "Promoting Good Governance". Twenty-four undergraduate students, studying history, journalism, economics, political science, and commerce, in different DU colleges, such as Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Hansraj, Hindu, Indraprastha, LSR, Miranda House, Ramjas, and Sri Venkateswara, took part in the workshop.

A similar workshop was conducted last year, which generated a lot of enthusiasm among the students. The main purpose of organising such workshops during the university summer holidays is to generate awareness among students on the role of think-tanks, and to educate them on various public policy issues. It is anticipated that such an initiative will motivate them to pursue careers in public policy research.

Mr. Surendra Singh, President, ORF Centre for Politics and Governance and former Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India, welcomed the workshop participants, and gave assurance to the students that their knowledge on complex governance issues will increase, and they will be in a better position to understand how the problems confronting the country, such as those related to economy, employment, poverty, education, environment, etc., can be overcome. In this regard it was mentioned that the youth of India will play a crucial role in determining the fate of the country, and it is important to ensure that the youth exercise their powers with adequate knowledge and wisdom. Prof. Dinesh Singh, Director, South Campus, Delhi University, delivered the inaugural address. He informed the students that each citizen is involved in the governance of the country in one way or the other, and therefore it was important to be a part of such events. It was emphasised that the well-being of a nation depends on how well we are trained and that learning never ceases, nor it is confined to a classroom or a text book, but it is a continuous process. He gave several examples of good governance principles adopted by former well-known leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Abraham Lincoln, who refused to compromise on their principles, established institutions of growth and democracy (such as Parliament, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre). It was pointed out that such initiatives set the foundation for long term growth, and bring welfare and prosperity. Prof. Singh finally stated that there cannot be good governance if personal interests are involved.

The Valedictory Session of the workshop was chaired by Mr. M. Rasgotra, President, ORF Centre for International Affairs and a former Indian Ambassador. He welcomed the chief guest and all participants to the concluding session of the workshop, and expressed pleasure in meeting India’s youth. It was mentioned that such occasions give opportunity to be in touch with tomorrow’s civil society, and hoped that along with the students, the ORF faculty must have also benefited from the students’ curiosity, their questioning mind, and limited experiences. He asked the students to give their opinion on ways to improve this contact between ORF and the student community of Delhi. Mr. Rasgotra requested Prof. B.P. Sahu, Dean, International Relations and professor of history at University of Delhi to address the gathering. Prof. Sahu mentioned that the workshop was a small step in the process of nation-building which will help students to understand their neighborhood and the context in which they live. It was also stated that Delhi University will take suitable steps for a wider publicity before the commencement of the workshop next year.

The chief guest on this occasion was Mr. Abid Hussain, who is a leading Indian economist and a former Indian Ambassador. He thanked ORF for giving an opportunity to speak face to face with the young generation, who are the future of the country. He told the students that when different disciplines are mixed together, they create sparks which are necessary for illumination of the mind. He also gave a tribute to ORF for the theme chosen for the students. It was mentioned that governance is the most important and crucial subject which is being discussed all over the world. At whatever level of development a country may be, the question of governance exists. If people are not given good governance, all efforts go to waste. The failure of governance is ultimately the failure of the people. He argued that there is a lot of criticism on governance today. In India too, people are not satisfied with what has been done and how it has been done. People expect that governance will deliver goods, will facilitate their rise both intellectually and materially, will give law and order, and peace. Some people say Indian government has totally failed to transform the society. When millions of people and children are hungry, with no shelter, and the ailing and suffering are not attended to, then there is a feeling as to what sort of governance exists. But to say that India has not achieved anything would not be correct. He shared the view of Indian citizens that India should have been in a much better position than what it is today, that India should have achieved much more by exploiting the potential which was available with our people, and that India could have done much more by imbibing the cultural philosophy which is part and parcel of our ethos. People are correct when they talk about corruption, the nexus between the politician, the bureaucrat and the businessman; however, these failures have to be corrected. Mr. Hussain gave successful examples of governance in India, such as rehabilitation of millions of people at the time of partition of the country, the reorganisation of Indian states, working of the Indian constitution, etc. He mentioned that good governance must enable transformation of the society. The needs of the poor and the hungry must be taken care of. All this can be achieved only if the citizens have a burning urge for a change – societal or economic. For this, a commitment and passion has to be built in. He told the students that they should not have a blind faith and must question beliefs, since each person may have a different point of view. He further mentioned that though students should study and think over things, they must also examine beliefs of which they might be the victims tomorrow, otherwise they may victimise others because they may have fundamentally believed in something which was never questioned.

During the workshop period, a total of 23 lectures were delivered by leading experts from diverse fields, including international relations, defence and security, politics, governance, energy and environment, education, health, economics, public administration, intellectual property rights, gender, information technology, and media studies. The workshop schedule included two lectures daily in the forenoon by distinguished ORF faculty, as well as by resource persons from reputed institutions based in Delhi. Some eminent speakers were Mr. Surendra Singh, Gen. V.P. Malik, Prof. Falguni Sen, Lt. Gen. Vinayak Patankar, Amb. Dilip Lahiri, Prof. K.V. Kesavan, Mr. Saeed Naqvi, Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, Prof. Rakesh Basant, Mr. B.S. Baswan (Director, Indian Institute of Public Administration), Mr. L.C. Singhi (Joint Secretary and Registrar, Central Information Commission), Ms. Ratna Sudarshan (Director, Institute of Social Studies Trust), and Mr. Neeraj Agarwal (Project Director, Affirmative Action, The NIIT Institute).

Afternoon sessions were devoted to group tasks. Five groups were formed and each group was guided by a mentor in the completion of a concise project on a specific public policy issue. On the concluding day of the workshop, i.e., 3 June 2009, students got the opportunity to present their work in the presence of subject experts, as well as the ORF research faculty. The project assignments and presentations were evaluated by jurors from DU and ORF, and the three winning groups were suitably rewarded during the valedictory session of the workshop. The remaining two groups were also given consolation prizes. Furthermore, all students, as well as the mentors, were given a certificate of participation. Information on title of reports prepared by the five groups, names of students in each group, and their performance is given below:

  • Women’s empowerment: still a long way to go (Aditi Vatsa, Chandni Agrawal, Divya Gupta, Mitali Nikore, and Shashank Shekhar won the first prize)
  • Energy security in the power sector: keeping the juices flowing in our sockets and pockets (Harsh Gokhale and Nayantara Shaunik won the second prize)
  • Bridging the gap: making a case for rural and urban development (Anukampa Gupta, Esha Aggarwal, Gaurav Kumar, Rupa Kumari, Sonia Wigh, and Vibhuti Kumar Singh won the third prize)
  • From distress to dominance: evolving a governance strategy for south Asian region (Aman Gathwal, Kislaya Upadhyaya, Neha Sinha, and Prince Gaurav Karan won consolation prize)
  • Role of Indian diaspora in fostering Indo-US relations (Jyoti Kumari, Manish Pawar, Mansi Jhingan, Meghraj Tamta, Namrata Chauhan, Prerna Chauhan, and Shweta Singh won consolation prize).

The workshop coordinator acknowledges the cooperation and advice received from ORF faculty and staff, especially Mr. Surendra Singh, Mr. Baljit Kapoor, Mr. Wilson John, Mr. Vivek Sengupta, Mr. Arun Mehra and Mr. Satish Puri.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.