Chicken Soup for the (Patriotic) Soul

Last evening (the penultimate evening of circa 2007) was an intellectually stimulating one for me. I was fortunate to be a part of The Telegraph national Debate organized jointly with Calcutta Club. The Telegraph Debate is BIG here (ever year!) .. this year the speakers were:


  • Ms. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister, Delhi
  • Mr. Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Minister – Parliamentary Affairs
  • Mr. Rupen Roy – Head & MD, Deloitte India
  • Mr. Sanjeev Goenka – Vice Chairman, CESC and Head, RPG Enterprises

  • Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad – Former Minister of Information & Broadcasting
  • Mr. Salam Khurshid, Former Minister of External Affairs
  • Mr. Kunal Sarkar – an eminent cardiologist
  • Mr. Sougata Roy – Senior MLA from the region

Mr. Sitaram Yechury was supposed to come but couldn’t make it finally.

The motion:

This house believes that: “a coalition government reflects the nature of Indian society


(From left) Sheila Dikshit, Sanjiv Goenka, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Roopen Roy for the motion; moderator Rudrangshu Mukherjee; Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Kunal Sarkar, Saugata Roy and Salman Khurshid against the motion – Picture courtsey: The Telegraph

Interesting topic. I expected someone (at least!) to turn this into a political battlefield and at times it did seem like one! Having said that, the debate was enjoyable and interspersed with wonderful anecdotes by the eminent speakers. I was a little disappointed with Sanjeev Goenka’s speech – but then I had never heard him speak before so he didn’t have a reputation to lose as far as I was concerned. 😉

Man of the Match: Salman Khurshid – Must say.. I haven’t seen a better display of wit, humour and an uncanny ability to tear apart the opponent! – I haven’t heard too many brilliant speakers LIVE – but that’s besides the point!

Verdict: I consider myself way too illiterate as far as Indian politics is concerned (or for that matter civic and parliamentary affairs!) so it’s best that we talk about the verdict given by the audience: The audience almost unanimously voted the motion OUT – which means most of Kolkata’s “superior cerebral capacity” (in Ms. Sheila Dixit’s words!) believed that a Coalition Government is not a true reflection of Indian Society.

Interestingly, the moderator Mr. Rudrangshu Mukherjee added in the end that in an SMS Poll earlier conducted by the Telegraph. the results were in favour of the motion. At the cost of taking dissection to the next level, there can be 2 major inferences:

1. The “masses” think that Coalition is indeed a true reflection of Indian Society – a view not endorsed by the more informed, educated populace; OR

2. Salman Khurshid single-handedly turned the audience’s opinion against the tide; – (I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case!)

Read more about it here.

13 thoughts on “Chicken Soup for the (Patriotic) Soul

  1. @ Pure

    Yeah.. u would have enjoyed it!

    @ Prachi

    There was just something about the way he was taking everybody apart.. especially one particular member of the “opposition” – pun intended!

  2. Post some of the points that were raised. Will be interesting to see what turned the tide against the house.

    I would think that if we look at Indian politics over the centuries, coalitions don’t really make it anywhere. However, coalition governments, whether they are a reflection of society or not, are going to be a reality in India in the foreseeable future because of all the electoral fragmentation.

    Perhaps, if it hasn’t already, society itself will adapt to this reality far more.

    Do post points. [TT coverage did have it, but it would be good to get bullet points for and against]

  3. @ Arvind

    Yupp.. You ought to. This was exactly of sort.. and quite enjoyable.

    @ Kpowerinfinity..

    Will try and summarize the points for and against.. Although, honestly, there weren’t too many valid points.. coz people kept going astray.. what made the evening enjoyable was the anecdotal nature of speeches made and the wit, humour involved. .. 🙂

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