On the occasion of the 134th anniversary of the founding of this newspaper, Kasturi & Sons Ltd, publishers of The Hindu group of newspapers, have pleasure in announcing the launch of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy — to encourage research and discussion on critical political and public policy issues.

The Hindu played a historic role as an influential voice in the freedom movement and in the formation of independent India. The founding spirit of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy is the firm belief that as independent India enters its 65th year, the publishers of The Hindu can help revitalise the faith of the Indian public in democratic politics. We do believe that The Hindu group, with its strong public presence over more than a century and its important contribution to nation-building, is especially well placed to start an institution of this kind.

A major goal for The Hindu Centre is to look at the governing vision over the last several decades since Independence and to revisit the fundamental formulations of the Indian Constitution, be it on pluralism, federalism, linguistic states, or regional autonomy and to see whether parts of this governing vision need to be updated to address the intense challenges facing the country today. The idea is that over a time frame of five to ten years at the least, on a number of issues that are part of the public discourse in India today, whether on secularism, linguistic states, federalism, regional movements, caste consolidation, insurgencies like the Maoist movement, the failure to subdue secessionist impulses such as in Kashmir, the Centre can contribute valuably to an understanding of the complex problems.

The Hindu Centre will be guided by an Advisory Board comprising eminent scholars and public intellectuals: Zoya Hasan, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President and CEO, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi; Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi; Gurcharan Das, management expert, author, and commentator on public affairs; and Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago.

The Board of Management will comprise N. Ram, N. Ravi and Malini Parthasarathy. Malini Parthasarathy will be the Director of the Centre.

Among the activities of The Hindu Centre will be:

* Sponsoring and guiding research on significant issues of politics and public policy by awarding year-long Fellowships to scholars to conduct research and provide reports on long-term political and constitutional issues requiring further exploration.

* Engaging public policy scholars to study specific current policy issues over a shorter time frame and come up with reports that will be fed into the public domain periodically.

* Providing a platform for dialogue and discussion through hosting seminars and workshops involving leading political scientists, leaders, and activists working towards a resolution of intractable issues. Where appropriate, the Hindu Centre will host ‘Track-Two’ type dialogues and seminars on internal conflicts that will seek to increase public understanding of the disputes that remain thorny points in our political discourse — such as understanding the alienation of the Kashmir Valley, the intensifying ethnic-cultural conflicts in the Northeast, and the continuing Maoist insurgency.

* From time to time, hosting lectures by leading public figures and political philosophers to raise the awareness of the general public as to their rights as citizens and stakeholders in the democratic process.

The outcome of the Centre’s research and programmes will be made available at its website, which will be updated frequently and provide in itself a lively platform for exchanges with the wider public.

The Centre will start its activities at Kasturi Buildings, 859 & 860 Anna Salai, Chennai 600002, the home of The Hindu since 1939, on a date to be announced in due course.

(This article was published on September 19, 2012)
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