Swaniti Talks with Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar

Date: 27th February, 2013

Venue: Barista Café, New Delhi

Swaniti Initiative hosted an interactive discussion over coffee with Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, co-founder of the Association of Democratic Reforms, on the 27th of February at the Barista Cafe, New Friends Colony, Delhi. The small session was closely attended by ten young, impassioned students and working professionals.

Prof. Chhokar, a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, is a former Director In-charge of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He had earlier worked with the Indian Railways as a mechanical engineer and manager for over a decade, as well as an international marketing manager with a public sector organization for four years. He is a citizen-activist interested in improving democracy and governance in the country. Prof. Chhokar is also a bird watcher, conservationist and a trained lawyer.

His organization, ADR, aims to improve governance and strengthen democracy by continuous work in the area of Electoral and Political Reforms.

Dr. Chhokar opened the session by inviting questions from the audience. He fielded questions on the growth of the political state of the nation, expectations of change, journalistic bias, empowerment and entitlement in India. He talked about the deep-rooted changes taking place in the socio-political systems which remain unmarked at the surface, but are causing a noticeable stir from within. A firm supporter of the Indian constitution, Prof. Chhokar touched upon grave issues like Naxalism and stressed upon the need to improve the paths to legal reforms.  He also highlighted the need for bureaucracy to be made publicly accountable. When questioned on the voters’ choices, he drew attention to the fact that a simple uncast vote can be manipulated into a tool of unimpeded power by political parties.

Finally, asserting that the “privileged” have the responsibility to lead change, he inspired the audience to contribute to policy-making, extend their participation in governance and become responsible citizens of the nation.

The event ended with a photograph session and a small token of appreciation being presented to Prof. Chhokar by Swaniti.