What is the Idea of India?

<< The canonical version of this content is accessible on jtmartelli.com. This preprint is a is a manuscript submitted for review to the journal Leonardo. It can be accessed on SocArXiv and on Academia.edu (incl. keywords). The citation is downloadable on the Hal repository. The new media installation presented here is under review for the exhibition CONTAGION to be held in 2020 at the Science Gallery Bangalore.The text is co-written by Salil Parekh. The original title of the article is: “What is the Idea of India? ML interactive installation “Chat-Hi:” revisits the question using text generation of Indian Prime Ministers.”

 Table of contents
2.Talkative political spectres
3.Chat-Hi:, a conversational archive
4.Heuristics of the in-between
5.What is the idea of India?
6.The other dialogue
7.Appendix 1: Machine Outputs of Indian Prime Ministers’ Speeches
        7.0.Jawaharlal Nehru (1946-64)
        7.1.Indira Gandhi (1966-77)
        7.2.Moraji Desai (1977-79)
        7.3.Charan Singh (1979)
        7.4.Rajiv Gandhi (1984-89)
        7.5.Chandra Shekhar (1990-91)
        7.6.P. V. Narasimha Rao (1991-95)
        7.7.Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004)
        7.8.Manmohan Singh (2004-14)
        7.9.Narendra Modi (2014–)
8.Appendix 2: Alternative exhibition layouts of the Chat-Hi: installation


Situated at the crossroads of computational politics and intellectual history, this article interrogates “Chat-Hi:”, the prototype of an interactive new media art installation project using a natural language processing model trained on a large database of speeches by Prime Ministers since 1946. Machine learning (ML) powered Chat-Hi: generates analytically intelligible answers to viewers’ questions such as: What is the idea of India? Building on Sunil Khilnani’s account on the inclusive and modernist endeavour of the makers of postcolonial India, we interpret Chat-Hi:’s output torevisit the historical argument by contrasting Jawaharlal Nehru’s emphasis on diversity with Narendra Modi’s stress on unity.

Keywords: New media, art installation,Indian politics, machine learning, Prime Ministers, speeches, intellectual history, unity-diversity, discourse, language model, GPT-2, spectres, Chat-Hi:

Talkative political spectres

What would Nehru think? Through interpellations of the sort addressed to the new media art installation Chat-Hi:, this contribution uses automated text generation trained on speeches by historical figures to convoke them into our turbulent times. By doing so, we aim at interrupting the presentism[1] of politics to formulate answers, look for convincing analogies,[2] and – maybe – gather the courage to act from authoritative spectres of the past.[3] Popular identification with Indian Prime Ministers such as Indira Gandhi can be a source of inspiration, as they haunt us into making sense politically[4] of our hopes and fears.[5] When asking what would Nehru think, we in fact enact Nehru’s own analogy of the palimpsest; we inscribe on paper a new “layer of thought and reverie”[6] that does not erase – and in fact follows the traces[7] – of what has been previously written. Spectres in historiography traditionally emerge as palliative possibilities[8] of memory-work in post-trauma societies,[9] where history is contested and constantly revisited. Yet, we suggest that such historical spectres are not only made of grief; they can be also “phantasms of amusement”[10] when introduced by an interactive – and uncanny – new media.

Taking the help of Chat-Hi: and its human-machine question-answers digital interface, this article is concerned with the afterlives of historical figures, by facetiously enjoining them to revisit a topical puzzle: What is the idea of India? Here the machine learning model, which has been made to study the archives shows that Prime Ministers’ imaginations of India are eclectic, if not discordant. A traditional approach of the historian to grasp representations of the nation is to mobilize archival exegesis. Some scrutinized oratory performances[11] of executive heads, many others focused largely on the biographies of statesmen.[12] Complementing accounts from below (that is from the perspective of denizens), the intellectual history of the ruling elites’ conception of India is best epitomized by Sunil Khilnani’s 1997 opus: The idea of India. Defining this idea as the product of a “theoretically untidy, improvising, pluralist approach,”[13] it permitted various fragments[14] to coexist in the Indian political space. It even comprised – and let prosper – the exclusivist views of those who reject secularism in the name of a regimented, unique and parochial ethnic-cum-religious identity.

Twenty years apart, Chat-Hi: revisits Khilnani’s anxious interrogation, by opening the floor to “talkative spectres” of Indian history – that is to the former[15] heads of the Indian government, who are impelled to reply to current queries. Chat-Hi:’s responses are automatically generated textual speeches, which were outputted using machine learning (ML). We fed Chat-Hi: the Database of Indian Prime Ministers’ Speeches (DIPMS) corpus – a dataset of 5 254 speeches, 9 154 654 words of Indian Prime Ministers collected by political scientist Jean-Thomas Martelli – as training data to the general language model[16] GPT-2 (355M-parameters version).[17] When conditioned on DIPMS, the unsupervised algorithm[18] of Chat-Hi:’s completes a downstream task,[19] with the aim to answer concisely the question: “What is the idea of India?” We ran several iterations of the model and reported in the appendix selective results for each Prime Minister (PM).

The contrast between PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s (1946-64) emphasis on diversity and PM Narendra Modi’s (2014-) focus on unity in Chat-Hi:’s outputs is a strong indication that the gradual political deepening of the Hindu nationalist project in the country durably amends the state-sponsored ideaof India. The article further discusses the epistemic status of ‘human’ insights derived from machine learning-generated content. We start by presenting the didactic latencies of the Chat-Hi: art installation, in particular its contagious power, that is its ability to transmit to our contemporaries historical emotions and ideas. Following this, five potential methodological aides of the automated approach to historical inquiry adopted by Chat-Hi: are outlined. Despite the fuzziness of model-generated texts, we insist on the hermeneutical usefulness of ‘political spectres’ in facilitating the identification of historical shifts in the representation of nationhood.

Chat-Hi:, a conversational archive

Like the DIALECTOR, Chris Marker’s 1988 prompt-based dialogue generator,[20] Chat-Hi: turns the device – a monitor – into a medium of enunciation.[21] While it shares with it a “certain ode to immortality”[22] and an endearing ludic flair, Chat-Hi is not dedicated to poetic thought[23] but to actualized historical experience, by bringing into the immediate concern of the viewer – present questioning – the feel and the ideas of the past. Following Walter Benjamin, we assume that interest for the past is generally activated by the questions we present to it in our now-moment.[24] The rendering of oratorial and thematic idiosyncrasies of executive heads through interactive conversations with contemporaries enables Chat-Hi: to turn the archive into a contagious artefact. Such contagion relies on the transmission of an historical sensorium, of an interactive intimacy with otherwise distant figures, and a pedagogical immersion into historical agency, inflected by the political representations of their protagonists.

Figures 1 and 2 introduce the main layout of the Chat-Hi: installation as well as its user interface. To stimulate an intimate experience with the machine and its promise of a tête-à-tête with history, the exhibition allows one participant to enter the booth at a time. Armed with a Bluetooth keyboard, she is invited to ask a question to one of the ten Indian Prime Ministers. The model runs on a virtual machine whose results are projected on a television monitor with a graphic interface that emulates a retro command-prompt terminal resembling ELIZA, the 1966 computer program enabling the user to dialog with a digital psychotherapist.[25] The visitor can take two prints of the responses through a thermal printer, one for mounting on the exhibition wall and the other to take home. The wall begins to house a wide array of questions and responses plotted on the wall according to the visitor’s self-perceived understanding of whether the answers provided are plausible and similar to what their chosen Prime Minister would utter. This collection of responses grows dynamically through the course of the exhibition and creates new display material to be read and witnessed by visitors. Future installations of Chat-Hi: will include plausible and 3D animations of Prime Ministers (as well as new historical figures such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 1869-1948 or Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar 1891-1956) using machine learning techniques for virtual facial simulation using audio input.[26] Such animations could subsequently vocalize the responses to questions generated by Chat-Hi:.

Fig.1. Digital layout of the Chat-Hi: installation
Fig.2. Interface and prompt of the Chat-Hi: installation

Heuristics of the in-between

As Chat-Hi: summons spectres to talk about our present, an enigmatic source of concern is to understand what the ML-generated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi – i.e. the automaton – is to the other Rajiv Gandhi – the archival one. This article suggests that synthetic Rajiv is somewhere in between the fictional and the historical Rajiv. ML Rajiv is fictional because the content of his speeches results from a probabilistic, yet partly random distribution of machine-generated words. This stimulating and playful[27] fiction is made of conceivable textual assertions, as in scholarly experiments of counterfactual history.[28] Some of these experiments claim not to be solely grounded in fantasy, they also ambition to be “simulations based on calculations about the relative probability of plausible outcomes.”[29] Replacing the human in this probabilistic enterprise, Chat-Hi:’s generated speeches are not arbitrary, because the fine-tuned model has learned the Rajiv ways, his lexicon, grammar, syntax and – yes – his reasoning too.[30] What characterizes an object of inquiry such as ML Rajiv is again its – or is it a he? – spectral character, its “absent presence.”[31] In the face of this impalpability, what could be then the purpose for Chat-Hi: to make spectres talk, when we can directly read transcripts[32] of “the real” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? The response is neither impatient laziness nor technological fetish.

As a heuristic device, the ML approach of Chat-Hi: offers five resolute hermeneutical aids to analysis, enabling a fresh encounter, thematic focus, comparability, confirmation and interactivity. The reader’s exposure to the computer-generated content triggers renewed attention, partly in the attempt to dispel ambiguity over the authenticity of the writing. Because puzzle, surprise and tension are feelings central to abductive reasoning[33] and interpretive research designs,[34] they subject the reader to a fresh encounter[35] with characters such as Prime Ministers Atul Bihari Vajpayee or Chandra Shekhar. Second, the automated approach enables all the historical figures to answer the same question, thus offering thematically coherent text to the analyst. Responses to what the idea of India possibly is might venture into various political domains, referring to the country’s foreign policy or to its social issues, but they will ultimately give us clues about the ideological views of Prime Ministers on nationalism. Such structured output offers the possibility to compare speakers, further facilitating the identification of contrastive and salient ideational as well as stylistic traits among Indian Prime Ministers. Indeed, insights derived from ML speeches do not exist in the vacuum, and can be further assessed in light of the original verbatims. The intertextual confirmation of the findings of commentaries can be further adjusted using more descriptive text analysis, which can ease the identification of lexical patterns among speakers in the dataset. Last but not least, once the model is conditioned on DIPMS it can welcome an infinite number of human queries, as exemplified by Chat-Hi:’s verbose proclivity to visitors’ interrogations. Keeping these strongpoints in mind we venture to interpret answers of two Prime Ministers – Jawaharlal Nehru and Narendra Modi – to our contested question.

What is the idea of India?

As exemplified by their speeches in the appendix, the automated afterlives of Nehru and Modi speak of two, possibly irreconcilable ideas of India: one based on diversity, the other on unity. Nehru’s idea of India is principled and analytical, as he often refers to ‘big’ ideas such as democracy, socialism, liberalism, universalism, legality etc. Nehru’s way is engrossed in ethical positions, making the model to list “five great ideals”[36]: “(1) Freedom from government interference; (2) Equality and mutual respect for each individual; (3) Freedom from poverty; (4) Truth, freedom and brotherhood of man; (5) A spirit of tolerance and goodwill which shall spread and no social or political order can take root where inequality and inequality of status exists.” The pluralistic and conceptual dispositions of Nehru push the model to generate the telling neologism “democratic Quadrangle,” in which an “equilibrium of forces” is achieved.

The characteristically ideational discourses of ML Nehru are associated with his ability to strike political and ideological compromises. For instance, in his view socialism should not negate private enterprise, which leads him to define such ‘ism’ as a “vague word.” As a result, Nehru advocates for non-dogmatic ideas of India, warning opponents that a “narrow approach is dangerous.” Signs of Nehru’s non-alignment and fondness for multilateral forums are visible in many instances, strikingly when the model declares that “we in India have tried to steer a middle way.” The political motto of Nehru is hence one of diversity in which secularism gives special protection to minorities, by preventing “personal or group attacks on Muslims” and by avoiding “exclusive concerns for an individual or a community.”

“Broad,” “subtler than governance and something more than politics,” the idea of India according to Nehru is understood as a future-oriented predicament grounded in a departure from the past, which is praised yet criticized as incompatible with the modernization needs of both the state and the society. The exhortation of Indian people not to remain “static” and engage in “modernization” for the “vital growth of the nation” relies on the state-directed investment in “basic industries, the basic power, the basic means of production.” His appreciation of Indian civilization, and his constant references to the past are almost always supplemented with incitements to “adapt ourselves to the changing conditions of our own world.” Often comparing India to countries such as Japan, USA and the USSR, ML Nehru has overall picked up the pragmatic, liberal, developmentalist, multi-faith, undogmatic socialism, pro-central planning and pro-industrialization politics of Nehru. This confirms that Nehru’s Idea of India operationalizes – in the words of Chris Bayly – the “clash, accommodation and rejection of ideologies appropriated from outside and transformed in the context of Indian life worlds.”[37]

In contrast, ML Modi tends to neglect Nehru’s framework of diversity, favouring instead the one of unity. His focus on socio-political harmony, which is frequently introduced with the help of relatable tropes such as the family or the household, is stressed by using impactful slogans: “The idea of India is ‘All Together Now’.” While Nehru’s India is an intellectual and rationalist projection in a yet-to-come future, Modi’s idea of India is more often nested in everyday performances, in which citizens are instructed to worship the nation: “We have to make people aware of the love and respect for the country.” Modi’s devotional, truth-claiming, feel-good depiction of India not only as immediate development, but also as protective kinship ties induces the model to produce a hyphenated neologism: “My idea of India is simple – to make every citizen of India umi-sisters too; every Indian citizen should be a umi-sister, especially a son, daughter, grandson, great-grandfather, great-grandmother” (emphasis ours). By avoiding conceptual references and opting for an overtly simple and affectual vocabulary (i.e. “My idea of India is to do good”), ML Modi’s penchant is to address the audience with evocative metaphors: “My idea of India is my mind and it cannot be separated from my thinking. If our mind is the glass of water, our body is the sand of beaches then why can a mathematician be a scientist?”. Surprisingly, when compared to other ML Prime Ministers, the model makes Modi talk incoherent gibberish in many instances. That can be in part explained by the difficulty for distributional language models to detect,[38] classify and generalize meaningful metaphors,[39] which rely on analogies[40] that usually share abstract relational commonalities.[41]

One of the particularities of ML Modi is that, while his speeches are a one-way traffic, his articulation of the idea of India seems to emerge from a dialogue with the people, ultimately providing the impression that it is co-constructed by the citizenry. This illusion of a bottom-up approach to the definition of India in Modi’s addresses is bolstered by his injunction to work for the country and by his abundant use of rhetorical questions. For instance, targeting those who ‘divide’ India, synthetic Modi declares: “Are you ever surprised to hear rubbish being spread on the name of a country?”. Strikingly, the unity promoted in Modi speeches is rarely complemented with the mention of the actual components – communities and minorities – that constitute this whole. Instead, in his speeches India’s unity is composed of cultural bonds retaining resolute Hindu traits, which entail deities, festivals, holy rivers, yoga, and Hindu-sounding slogans such as Bharat mata ki jai[42]: “We have to take the country forward by following our own traditions too. Navratri is the festival of service. And it is our tradition to serve the Fatherland. And today when we are with our PM, I observe that he is doing this work from the rear. He is not doing it from the front. That is why I say that we should not feel embarrassed for sending our PM.”

The last sentence of the quote reveals another awkwardness in synthetic Modi speeches; he at times seems to duplicate himself, referring repeatedly to his “friend Narendra Modi.” If the model believes that Modi is a person different than the speaker, it is because he often refers to himself in the third person. This is not only a sign of hubris, it is also a rhetorical ruse to establish unmediated connections with the putative people. Hence, for Modi, the idea of India is not only performative but relational, as epitomized by the following stance: “Your vision is my aspiration. / Your hopes and dreams are my strength. / Our paths will connect the two of us.” This rhetorical mechanism to establish a direct connect with the people is visible when he praises common citizens for their hard work in uplifting themselves out of poverty. Note again the performative and relational ‘trick’; it is not the state who eradicates poverty, it is the poor who lift themselves out of hardship with the help of Modi himself. Thence, according to Modi the “great heroes” are “common men” living in present times, while for Nehru exceptional figures are rare and yet to come, as exemplified by this quote: “I AM having a rather trying time appointing heroes in this present generation. One feels one’s work more and more difficult, and the more one strives for heroism the more it seems to me that a hero must.”

The other dialogue

By helping us attend to the historical interpretations of what the idea of India could be, Chat-Hi: has demonstrated its ability to foster generative dialogues between machines and humans, those between past and the present and again those between political history and artistic experimentation. Yet, an additional, intertextual conversation between the textual source and its ML alter ego, ultimately enables new readings of the archive. Is our evidence of the unity/diversity divide in the sketching of the idea of India traceable in the original speeches of Modi and Nehru? Yes, it is. As indicated in Fig.2, through computing statistical cooccurrences[43] on the lemma[44] India in the actual speeches of the two Prime Ministers, we can infer the lexicon as being strongly associated with their depiction of Indianness.

Fig.3. Weighted hierarchy[45] of most significant cooccurrents of the word India and its associated forms (Indian, Indians) in Jawaharlal Nehru (1946-64, upper graph) and Narendra Modi (2014-, lower graph) speeches.

Because Modi’s idea of India is unity, words that he associates with it are attributes, qualifying words, and adjectives: ‘s, New, Digital, Mother, billion, 125,[46] its, economy, Clean, dream, global, hub, origin, proud, growing, fastest. The idea of India is one that can be quantified and marketed, as exemplified by the adjoining of numerals and upper-cased words: New India, Make India, Digital India, etc. Oppositely, Nehru’s personification of India, through the use of her, she and herself, involves a clear acknowledgment of its different components, stressing on its composite past and its temporal, contextual, and multilateral positioning: between, languages, parts, part, ages, situated, ancient, future, today, corner. Hence, Nehru’s mention of the word unity relies on the axiomatic prerequisite of diversity, while Modi’s unity is monist. Attempting an analogy, in short, it could be said that Nehru’s India is an ‘political polytheism’ and that Modi’s one is a ‘political monotheism’[47].

To conclude, this comparative examination of text generated from Prime Ministers’ speeches by Chat-Hi: indicates that the Idea of India is a disputed one. Outputs show a clear divide between acclamations of unity issued ML Modi, and calls for diversity delivered by ML Nehru. The former’s emphasis on unity reflects the longstanding ideology of social harmony advocated by the Hindu nationalist movement, which gives primacy to a consolidated Hindu fold over the celebration of a multiplicity of religious and community identities. ML Modi declares for instance: “The reason for the culture of social cohesion and harmony in the society, just by doing research, I could clearly understand the processes.” Oppositely, Nehru’s stress on diversity epitomizes a nationalism based on the normative belief[48] that what is to be represented as the people is not the Hindu majority, but a more abstract collective bound by the principle of secular inclusiveness. All in all, the analysis finds echoes in Shiv Vishvanathan’s study of India’s political modernity: “[Modi] erased a cosmopolitan India for a nationalist idea of the nation state, rejecting pluralism for predictability and uniformity, the univocality of patriotism. The Republic of Nehru sought plurality.”[49] The contrast between the two historical figures exemplifies that there are not one, but at least two ideas of India, and that through conversing with automated spectres of the past, the present can appear to us more clearly.

Appendix 1: Machine outputs of Indian Prime Ministers’ speeches

Jawaharlal Nehru (1946-64)

My idea of India is and should be that of a democratic, united and independent India where liberty, equality and democracy have universal legal recognition and where social and economic conditions are secure and conditions are also full of opportunity for men and women to grow. To this end it is necessary that we should, by and large, keep five great ideals in view:

(1) Freedom from Government interference.

(2) Equality and mutual respect for each individual.

(3) Freedom from poverty.

(4) Truth, freedom and brotherhood of man.

(5) A spirit of tolerance and goodwill which shall spread and no social or political order can take root where inequality and inequality of status exists.

We pledge, therefore, to the service of these five ideals and shall go to the ends that inspire us to serve them.

The people’s freedom is not merely an ideological ideal but a practical, practical ideal which demands all the strength that freedom offers and no other freedom for an individual to enjoy. They should have the means to protect themselves against the bully of their own government.

My idea of India is in keeping a High Degree of Harmony and Consensus, among other things. I do not mean to say that we live in a democracy, but we live in a democratic Quadrangle–I cannot call it a democracy. It is an equilibrium of forces.

Communism is spreading. Democracy is taking the shape of some countries having what might be called an ‘anti–democratic’ chief. They say, ‘We do not like being tied up by an ideology. We do not want to have an ideology in our government. We are laissez–faire, we are free.’ Democracy, if it survives, can be cast as a liberal or a conservative or a revolutionary party. Socialism is a vague word and the various ideologies that accompany it have no clear yardstick to measure by.

How are we to do it? One thing I have noticed in our speeches is an ardour sometimes to the point of rudeness. That narrow approach is dangerous. I dislike that approach at all. It is bad, because it weakens the cause we seek to promote. Secondly, it betrays a certain, I do not think, a complete lack of appreciation of the problem of poverty in India. This is a problem which affects millions of our people and it may not generally be so difficult to deal with after a certain manner, but it is a problem which affects others and it does not, I suppose, naturally lend itself to a quick solution. Most important, it is a problem affecting our future growth. That is the main thing that India has to face today.

We in India have tried to steer a middle way; we have warned others about what we consider to be the danger of India becoming a closed country. I want to say again what I said on the subject of foreign affairs, because in the larger context of world affairs there is a great deal of justification for our foreign policy.

We have to deal specifically with the new problem of communal disturbances. There has been too much of interference with and personal or group attacks on Muslims in the past, and so there has been a feeling in many parts of India that they are being attacked more and more.

All these factors and more militate against the approach of personal and exclusive concern for an individual or a community. It may be that the great cities of India are very democratic and can function quite well in a civil liberty way, but they have developed less in the last fifteen or twenty years.

The idea of India is something far subtler than governance and something more than politics. It is something deeper and something which is inherent in our souls and which, I am sure, it is very easy to develop.

The idea of India is obviously not a uniform idea; it is a broad idea.

My idea of India is that she should develop, instead of being static, as she has done in the past, she should be changing, and also that she should learn from her own experience, from centuries of history, and also from other sources like the great Elect of the United States.

Now, what is the character of India today? People talk so much about modernization, and I suppose it is a vital growth of the nation. But I do not quite know what Indian civilization is today save what comes out of the mind of man. Our minds are governed, naturally, by our own conceptions of what is right and good. I do not mean that we should not adapt ourselves to the changing conditions of our own world. That is inevitable.

But in India today, we have to be careful. What do we do first? What do we want to develop first? We have to develop the basic industries, the basic power, the basic means of production. We have to develop all industries not only because these are in a position to build the forces of progress. The big factories may be good for certain purposes, but they can also bring about the spirit of the age. They must necessarily be run by the State.

I AM having a rather trying time appointing heroes in this present generation. IAM having a rather trying time appointing heroes in this present generation. It starts with the hero of yesterday. The twentieth century ends with the hero of today. It has been a remarkably free quarter of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, I feel, I am having a difficult time assigning heroes in this matter as the twentieth century is building up. It is easy to get excited about a certain subject, and it is sometimes easy to get excited about things that are bad, but it is difficult if you are trying to do something heroic. One feels one’s work more and more difficult, and the more one strives for heroism the more it seems to me that a hero must.

Indira Gandhi (1966-77)

My idea of India is first to submit to the world and then to decide what to do with it. We are learning too much, interfering with countries who want to develop their countries. We are free to make as many mistakes as we want. We may have to face them, they may take many forms. But there is one rule that we do not make any mistakes. We do not make mistakes from pleasure or from disillusionment. You must try to understand. I would not say that we can never take mistakes. I am not in the habit of saying that everybody has to have mistakes. It is very difficult for anybody. But the art of means-to accomplish. It is not the thing that matter really. What matter is therefore to utilise all instruments at the moment-microwave, speakers and all instruments. 

All these things are important. We do not want to take the people from it. We want to see that it is only a function of enrichment on the part of this generation, which helps me to go forward and who might know what to do, what it is has to be taken out. I do not do it for the pleasure of the public. I do it for the great good of the country. 

I am not against any scientist, but scientists, being human beings, do have some weaknesses which we should not exploit at the cost of the people or of the country.

The developing world as the world reaches out to the foreseeable future cannot have long lifespans or the goodwill which the world needs. In rich countries, the gulf of difference between the rich and the poor is far greater. The poor must be helped to cast their burdens on those  who have helped them to rise.

My idea of India is ‘not to have a great military power, but to have a great people, and it is hardly possible to have a great military power without a great people, especially in a country like India, where the people are so knowledgeable and the interest is so high. Hence, the need is to build India and not a fragmented country.

The idea of India is not for destruction. There is destruction all around us and we have to stop it. For this we need not only peace but determination and discipline all over the country. Neither do I agree with Jawaharlal Nehru, a very great man, but his example and his very great wisdom show that we cannot be happy unless peace prevails all over the world. This Council is a very good example of what can be done when you have altruism , you have the desire and courage, and you do not have the power. This is how we can strengthen our overall unity and what we can do at this stage in time.

The Gallery has a great deal to do with the thinking among artists, with the thinking amongst intellectuals, with the thinking of all our villagers. I think that the people of India, if they were indeed such great artists and writers, could paint out this legacy in detail. And I hope you will open this Gallery and I make it the inspiration to be a great successor to the Italian Grove of Beijing and other such institutions which were to influence the painting of painters, art, architecture, medicine and even of Shri Jagjha as well. So, I would like to reconstitue our community and have you all take Part.

It is a dark, dark world of today. And all over the world … every day, we are breaking through these barriers and we are doing all we can to crack the fierce barriers of darkness. Let us try something new. Let us use the new energies and new elements which are being created. We can certainly think of socialism. It has its adherents in Europe and at the other European nations. It does not require a secret, either, but that is the situation.

It is a dark, dark world of today. And all over the world … every day, we are breaking through these barriers and we are doing all we can to crack the fierce barriers of darkness. Let us try something new. Let us use the new energies and new elements which are being created. We can certainly think of socialism. It has its adherents in Europe and at the other European nations. It does not require a secret, either, but that is the situation.

It is our desire to make our presence felt both in India and in other parts of the world. Now, the politicians here usually think that if we go to our leaders, they may speak with us and it will come out in the press. If you get help today in the whole world, I usually have no hesitation in saying that no such help was necessary. I regard this not merely as a question of my interest, but as being the interest of the people of India. This is the reason why we can become stronger. We have been able to do something which none of the other countries can do. We are just not in touch with the people. We have to go to our members and tell them what to do. If all the members are united, or if there is any strong portion, and it is concerned with matters of great importance to the country and the people, then I would say that it is a very good thing for us to go ahead. But, if we go ahead and start everything there, we shall not be able to get out of the groove which we ourselves have just dug out.

India’s tradition is that of tolerance, tolerance to everyone and to all religions. And as I said earlier, while we do not believe that you have to be fanatic about believing, certainly not extreme fanaticism. But I think that this is the test that every country faces and if that country rejects it, I think it is unstable. It cannot last long. And, of course, we have seen that some great dictatorships have been toppled or replaced by other theories. We have seen that some theories are more to remain undiscovered, some are more to be discovered. I think this is a test for all nations whether they want to take a path which is wholly different to the path of the others or to be able to find a better way out.

I am not against the Muslim message of tolerance, I have no doubts that at least some of the victims will not be hurt, but to say that tolerance is the duty of every person.

Moraji Desai (1977-79)

My idea of India is that we should treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. Therefore, we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves and that is the basis of our culture. The treatment of others does not depend on our personal prejudices or whims. It is not the test of morality. The test is how we relate to the welfare of the people.

If every person is happy, no Government is required, as no Government is necessary. But when Government is required, corruption comes in. There must be complete honesty in everything that is done by every person. And dishonesty is there in everything that is said by every person. There must be absolute neutrality in everything that is done by every person. And there should be no taking of sides in this matter, neither for nor against any system. Government should not have any interest in any particular system. Interest only should be given to agriculture, maritime affairs, relations of interests, and the like. And the interest of the people should be placed before all other interests.

Surgery is a part of Allopathy. There was surgery even in Ayurveda and the instruments which were in Ayurveda at that time were finer than any of the instruments which are available today. But they have disappeared in course of time. That is what I see. Well that is a matter for research by those who believe in Ayurveda. Modem surgery is in allopathy and even he has admitted that it is not possible to make him happy. That is what is required. I would like to see that in allopathy, when it is offered as an option, it is accepted by the people who receive it. I personally think that facial surgery should be offered as an option as well. But there are those who think that only beauty can be bought and that one must have function and not beauty. That is why there should be no discrimination between the two. But when one is in the grip of beauty, one is bound to make oneself pretty. And when one is pretty, one is bound to make others pretty. This is how one has to live. This is how evolution has to take place. And unless one is prepared to do that, there cannot be any great achievements in human history.

In India, we have decided to set up a committee on a five-year plan to look into all these problems. The decision to set up a national committee is not one made overnight. That was made in haste and in impatience. But, as time went on, you decided on it did take careful consideration. You said that you would do this in 1968 or thereabout. But you did not touch upon the problem of finance till quite late. Now that you have taken the matter to the next step, I think it is time you started to think about that. And I hope you will consider this problem from all these points, all these aspects of this problem.

In this country, we have done very little work on the subject of family planning. I must say that is very peculiar to this country. Our attitude is, if it is done, it will be good for the country. But, it has to be done correctly. And when it is not done correctly, it will hurt the country. I do not know which way to take it. I think, first of all, we ought to see how much enjoyment there is in having these things done by the people. I do not want to end my discussion with this statement, but if a person wants to have these things done to him or her, he must do them properly and within the law. Not only the law, but the Constitution as well as common sense require that this work must be done by soft and not hard. If it is done by soft, then it will slip and slide as it were. But it has to be done properly. This is what one has to keep in view.

In this country, we have a very ancient culture. We got it from the sea. As a matter of fact, we go to the very ends of the sea to the ends of the earth. And as a matter of fact, we have forgotten the magnetic pole. We cannot forget it. But we have forgotten that if we are modest in our standards of living, we can always find a place for housing. Unless we make a strong association between the two, however, it is not possible to h eativ e happy relations between the people and the environment. Unless we make a rational association between the two, it is not possible to make the whole person happy.

I personally attach great importance to the development of rural areas and the States. The States have been allocated a very large share of the total resources as shown in the budget. The States have also been asked to ensure that non-official agencies are effective in coordinating the efforts of the agencies and ensuring that their activities are completed in a proper manner. A number of States have been asked to elaborate on their intentions in regard to rural development including the provision of irrigation, forest policies and programmes for the rural poor. Some States have made special mention of science and technology.

The crucial question is how to remove corruption from all levels of Government and bring back honesty and integrity in the governance of the country. The President of the country must not be tainted by the influence of money. Money must not buy happiness. But if it is not pumped out by Government and by those who exercise executive privilege, it will be impossible to make the President truly healthy and fit. Therefore, there must be no influence by money in the governance. There must be no influence by money in the private lives of people. And there should be no personal bias in the governance.

Charan Singh (1979)

My idea of India is that it should be a civilisation which has its origins in villages but which had languished in the past because of the absence of adequate support from the Government.

Non-proliferation is a much abused word. In the name of non  proliferation, efforts continue to be made to put obstacles in the way of developing countries who are trying, very often at considerable sacrifice, to develop indigenous facilities for the peaceful utilisation of atomic energy.

Among the number of problems facing this country, the most serious is poverty. Of the 125 nations of the world, our position is  111th which means that there are 110 countries which are more affluent than us. Three years ago, our position was 104th and during this period we have slided down to the 111th position. This speaks of the level of our poverty.

You all know that India is passing through a period of wide spread drought causing great hardship to people and to farm  animals besides damage to crops. The abnormal behaviour of the monsoon underlines the urgency of efforts in the area of stabilising food production. It will of course not be possible to get the same production every year, but we can try to minimise fluctuation to the extent possible.

I have quoted this at length to underline the vital importance of stepping up productivity by intensive cultivation in India. As the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi observed, real India lives in villages. And agriculture is the most important occupation in our villages and therefore, there is need for much greater attention to Indian agriculture and to raising productivity. Indeed, the role of agricultural research as an aid to productivity is extremely significant.

My idea of India is unique in that it is not confined to the domestic sphere. I consider myself to be an all-round caretaker of the people. I can claim to have given some thought to the problems of Indian agriculture. The death of Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash Narayan has stilled the conscience of the nation. Since the death of Mahatma Gandhi, the mantle of moral and spiritual leadership of the nation had appropriately fallen on him. This onerous responsibility, he was discharging till almost the last moment of his life. His contributions to awaken the best in our people are too numerous to be recalled. Representing the spirit of youthful rebellion against foreign domination, J.P. in due course of time blossomed into a restless fighter for the poor, the depressed, the exploited. In the formative years of our Independence, J.P., while he scrupulously kept himself away from power, held aloft the torch of freedom and individual liberty. His total dedication to Gandhism came when he decided to leave active politics and devote his life to the Bhoodan Movement. But this did not deter him from coming back and assuming the leadership of the people at a time when the flames of democratic freedom were sought to be extinguished. His efforts set in motion a second liberation movement and India emerged once again in March 1977 as a torch-bearer of individual liberty and people’s democracy. Even as he was waging this historic struggle, he fought valiantly against an illness which in the case of less courageous people would have been fatal. His loss is irreparable.  But the message he has left, will always serve as a beacon reminding us of the higher purposes and dedications. May his soul rest in peace! The sun of integrity in public life has sunk but let us hope, no night will follow!

We have also proposed to discuss today, the law and order situation in the context of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. We have had an excellent tradition of holding free and fair elections and I am sure that this will be maintained during the coming elections also. We have a collective responsibility in this area as much as in the economic management of our country and it should be our endeavour to work on the basis of a common consensus in all such matters.

Our first task, therefore, is to put an end to hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering. There can be no condonation of those who indulge in these anti-social activities. These undesirable elements, who take advantage of the situation to cause sufferings to the people for their private gain, will have to be dealt with sternly and with no compunction. We have already advised the State Governments to enforce the Essential Commodities Act and the various control orders issued thereunder. To the extent that these punitive provisions are insufficient to deal effectively with those who resort to various subterfuges and devices to achieve only their own private advantage to the detriment of the people, other and more drastic measures may have to be thought of. I am sure you all agree that so long as we can eschew the taint of personal or political consideration, while taking action against such economic offenders, there would be ample justification at a time such as this to employ drastic measures to bring such persons to book.

You all know that India is passing through a period of wide spread drought causing great hardship to people and to farm animals besides damage to crops. The abnormal behaviour of the monsoon underlines the urgency of efforts in the area of stabilising food production.

Mahatmaji also used to say that for a public worker, there is no private life different from his public life. To him, life is one and there is no compartmentalisation. If man’s public life is not clean, you can well imagine, his private life cannot be any better either and he cannot truely serve the country.

My idea of India is that people should have access to their basic health needs. If not today, the country will not be able to attain affluence. Only that country is considered affluent which has a larger percentage of people engaged in non-agricultural occupations. In our country, however, only 10 per cent of the population was engaged in industries in 1951 and this percentage remained static in 1961 and again in 1971. Industry cannot grow unless agriculture also develops. There is no other way. We will, therefore, attempt to encourage cottage and village industries in the rural areas.

Rajiv Gandhi (1984-89)

My idea of India is not a country that just has highways and posts and schools and industries. My idea is India, where they come to visit us not through the physical senses but through our spiritual senses. Where we meet our old friends, not through politics but through the Kabir Sutra, the Qabasin-Sultan Qabasin Memorial, which I am sure will find it very difficult to cross. So my idea is of India not as a mere country having highways and posts and schools and industries. My idea is India of the end of history, where science and technology will triumph over tribal and regional traditions and will bring India to the people.

During the past week or so, we have been having what I call the ‘Make in India’ seminars. This is to exchange information and opinions on various aspects of our development process. Perhaps more information could lead to a better functioning of the system we have got. Perhaps the most important aspect is the timebanking system. This is the basis of our self-reliance. The other bases are — natural resources, manpower, raw materials. We do not rely on luxuries but on basic industrial skills, which is something that must be acquired.

My idea of India is not just the land, the forests, the water, the farming. My idea is of India as a nation, as a race, as a civilisation building on the foundations that have been laid by Panditji, Indiraji, Rajendra Prasad, by Gandhiji, by Panditji and then on to the newer ideas that are taking shape. The ideas are not very different from the basic ideas that have been around for a long time.

We are self-sufficient because we have the full support of our peoples, this whole Indo-Pak relationship, and it goes without saying that we have an indigenous nuclear bomb. What is important is that we make nuclear weapons ourselves or build atomic bombs.

But the real question is: What does development mean to India? What does development do for the people? Development does not mean merely the development of the land cannot lead to prosperity. If we were to develop a region today, we would see that its very elementary requirements of basic amenities, basic human needs, were not fulfilled. The State must ensure that these are taken care of. There must be a basic energy available for work and for enjoyment, a basic stamina to carry the whole project along. In the coming years, we will definitely do these. We have already announced the Coastal Development Board. Soon after we assumed office, we began work on the new educational policy. From the beginnings of the new education policy, our venture capital, industrial and technological development, which has been going on for the last four or five years, will be brought together into one package. This policy will change the way the young people think. It will change the tone of our educational process. But the real policy change will be when the Government starts working for the people, when the people really start working for their vested interests, for their special demanded needs, for their basic happiness and demands. This is what we intend to concentrate on now.

Our civilisation has given to the world many beautiful collections of art, music, dance, crafts, craftsmen and in a way our greatest skill has always been in expressing the human emotions in the best manner that the artist would have chosen-within that human heart, between the child and the artist. And this has been our strength, because we have always tried to express our emotions in the best manner that the child or the artist would have chosen-within that human heart. And this has been our strength as well.

My idea of India is not a country I am building in my head. My idea of India is of India, the people, the Indianness, the spirituality. I do not see India as a mere geographic expression or a material basis for my existence; I see India as an inner strength, a moral and a spiritual feeling. Unfortunately, the term Indian has degenerated into something which is not even acceptable to the true, the genuine Indian.

We must change this. We must bring back the true, the true-the posh, the respectable, the respectable. We must not play with identity, with religion, with caste, with language and with region. We must keep the country strong and united. We must see that our traditional values, our culture, our tradition are not lost in any development that we may be making. We must not allow the negative aspects of our heritage to be erased from our cultural development, from our culture.

We have to see that the culture of India, the Indianness is preserved and we shall do this. Our education system needs to be more inclusive, not less exclusive. We have to see that there are continuous and lively cultural developments in all the States and in all parts of India. We have to see that the good Indianness is permeated into all our young people, that is, in their appreciation of the fine arts, in their interest in exploring new civilisations and in their desire to know more about the other cultures in the world. We have to see that we do not lose sight of our heritage. We have to see that we preserve our traditions, our heritage-not only the culture of India but the entire cultural heritage of India. We shall make a beginning with these subjects.

We shall start with the heritage. As I said before, the task before us is to strengthen that heritage, to make it more contingent and to make it more potent. The task before us is to bring that heritage to the people in the country. We have to see that our culture, our Indianness is strengthened, that it is not restricted to the few who are entitled to receive a taste of it. We shall develop the culture of India to the greatest extent that is within our capability. But the task of any one part of our society is to see that it goes down to the lowest level so that it is available to the masses. We must widen this possible gas supply to the masses.

Chandra Shekhar (1990-91)

My idea of India is that of a nation where religion comes first, then only philosophy can come after that. The nation will be enriched only when people put their faith in philosophy and religion. Their faith in me is also something of which we should all be proud. I feel honoured for having been invited by the Institute to welcome the President. The institute is one of the most important institutions of our civilization. It is one of the most important institutions for our history and for our future. Whatever may be the achievements, if the same is not fulfilled by our children-it is going to be our disaster. It is sad that we are not able to prevent tragedies like birth deaths and abortion complications. But fortunately, I have come to you to see about the future of the Institute. You should ask some questions to me and I shall try to cooperate with you in selecting the institutes which will fulfil your aspirations and hopes.

I am sad to say that during the freedom struggle we had the privilege to look forward and we had high expectations and hopes, but today after four decades of Independence, we have taken to despair. I am glad that the Science Congress has its association with and draws inspiration from the national movement of this country. So, scientists in this country have always addressed themselves to the problems of the people, whether social, economic or human. That is an advantage for the Science Congress and for the society also that there is a type of integration in the approach of the scientists and the problems of the people of this country.

My idea of India is one of developing countries. Our backward class people feel that they are not getting their share from the society. Our Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people feel that they are not getting their share from the society. Our backward class people feel that they are not getting their share from the society. Our minority people feel apprehensive. It is not only in this country, but all over the world. Minorities, whether that of religion or of language or of ethnic considerations, feel abrasive and they feel that they are being discriminated against.

This is why in our Constitution it was provided that we should give special facilities to our minorities. But in spite of all our and in spite of all our assurances, they are not feeling assured that they can lead a life of dignity and honour. It is our responsibility to create a feeling amongst the people who have been so far oppressed, exploited and downtrodden that the society will take care to fulfil their aspirations and urges. Because, if we don’t change our attitude towards the aspirations and urges of the poorer sections of the society, the only other course open for us is to use the coercive power of the State to silence them. But it is in not method to be applied in a Parliamentary democracy, and surely not in a country where Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi gave the message of peace and non-violence. Unfortunately, these sections are getting frustrated. And the result is that from Tamil Nadu to Tripura, everywhere tribal belts are under unrest. In these situations, we tried to take some corrective measures because we are a society of scarce resources. We have been trying to create a sense of cooperation-of-Tripura-to-Mumbai, to participate in the same movement for building a new India. But in spite of all our efforts, I seethe with anger that these people are not getting the facilities for which they were promised in the Constitution. Where is the utopia envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals? Where is Sri Lanka? What has happened to its development? What has happened to the educational facilities provided to the children of this country? What has happened to the medical facilities provided to the tribal belts of this country? What has happened to the scientific developments and cultural programmes provided to the people of this country? What has happened to the grants to the scientists and scholars provided to the country by the international organisations and by our own authorities?

My idea of India is that of the whole world when we talk of liberalisation. Today, we want to make a special effort to our minorities. Maratha Sahib is a Sanskrit name for India. Indian people mean that religion of India should be incorporated in the national life. Whether we believe in God or not, whether we talk of religion or not, we can create country by creating a new psychology. And this can be done only by getting the psychological help of psychologists. I don’t know what is more necessary for promoting the cause of India, bringing in a new batch of volunteers or for enlisting them in the service of the country. It is both.

It is unfortunate that today there are so many lepers in our country. The most distressing thing is that the lepers not only undergo physical and mental agony but are also boycotted by the society. To work for these people is, indeed, a great service. Mahatma Gandhi was the first person who drew our attention to the service of the lepers. It is a matter of shame that even after forty-four years of independence we have not been able to solve this problem. I congratulate you for your dedication, love and sympathy for the lepers. The nation will ever remain indebted to you for the work you are doing.

My idea of India is not a mere formality. It is a political statement. Our new constitution is a statement of our economic priorities.

I am glad that all of you have come here. You will enlighten us about the problems of India. There are people of your stature who will give you advice and to join you in this noble task. I have also come here to receive your suggestions. You have got the potentiality to bring prosperity but your ideas have not reached the rural areas. We have to find out a way by which people can be of service to the society. Our backward class people feel that they are not getting their share from the society. Our minorities feel apprehensive. It is not only in this country, but all over the world. Minorities, whether that of religion or of language or of ethnic considerations, feel abrasive and they feel that they are not getting their share from the society.

P. V. Narasimha Rao (1991-95)

The idea of India is at least as old as recorded history itself. Scholars of past who sought to apply their own thought to the social and cultural evolution of the region thought of India as a source of inspiration and as a model for taking similar steps in the real world. I am aware of subtle resemblances between the Vedic world and Indian society; it is only the humanising of the Vedic ethos that has brought the world of today, the world of tomorrow, nearer and more remarkably, within reach and reach. Vedic India was a nation which held in very high esteem the service rendered to the human beings by Brahma. In the Rig-veda, Vishwamitra and Manu are said to have brought to the three hundred and fifty-second year of the human. This would make the present state of affairs, the fiftieth year of Vikarna a near certainty and an inevitable forerunner to the future. (Skt.Br.)  We have been following the economic and economic developments of India with perfect interest and fascination. I am sure that our Government is keeping full track of these developments.

The economic liberalisation in turn resulted in the full flowering of human rights. The Vedic sage and his worldly tradition of enquiry and enlightenment, which, in a way, inspired the Industrial Revolution, is a matter of phenomenal interest that needs to be remembered. We have also observed that the Vedic world view and the historical process of enquiry have left a lasting imprint upon what we believe in our modern society. The fact that in spite of the diversity of beliefs which we come across in our ordinary conversations, we have all together on this planet a common understanding of the ultimate end-result, the reconciliation of mankind. This is perhaps the most remarkable feature of the Vedic world view, to borrow a contemporary expression. (Hinduism) Both science and spirituality are vitalising forces in our society and history alike. Coming together in diversity is a positive attribute of our success, as a nation whose scientific achievements have led to a rich and fulfilling intellectual life is a nation to which opportunities for human development are being systematically mobilized on the basis of scientific enquiry and technological demonstration.

The idea of India is everywhere. I didn’t invent it. But the idea is so pervasive that within a country or within the entire globe it is just not possible to think of it without bringing in one or other subsidiary or the other. Sociologists and historians have noted this, statisticians and scholars have noted this and other countries have noticed it. India itself is a civilization of which so much of its glory is attributed. But we have to remember that in its own vastness there are some regions which are still primitive and the income of others coming from outside has to come from within, from within the country itself, mixing with Indian culture and Indian principles. India is a great country. It has exerted her influence and her wisdom on the whole world and that wisdom is now going into small details and it is creating problems for us where there are none.

Our parliamentarians, religious and other community leaders, and all citizens must feel that this is not a time for politics which permit political parties of a political line, political parties in uni versal unity, giving full importance to their alliance with the religious sentiments of the people, must be kept out of the political process and out of the way so that they can concentrate on economic and social progress. This should not be allowed to happen because this can lead to mischief. If that is allowed to happen, there will be no point in having elections in this country, and I am afraid this is likely to happen. We have not been able to see this coming, but it is coming. I wish that this does not come. We need elections in this country and we need to see that the vote is based on realpolitik and not on party identification.

My idea of India is that of a mixed economy. If that is how people perceive my country, I have no problems with that. But there must be so1ne difference between one part and the whole. We have to endeavour to make the whole, India-like so that people would see beyond the rhetoric of borders and see the genius of the Indian mind and the genius of the Indian people and the Indian society and they would know the difference between one part and the whole.

The Government’s strategy for industrial growth needs to be dynamic and completely open to the dynamic, multilayered and multistep industrial sector of our economy. I would, therefore, appeal to enterprises, especially those located abroad, that take full advantage of the liberalised system we have adopted. Technological innovations and innovative management practices can translate all this growth into efficiencies and create conditions for further investment in the Indian economy. I would also appeal to Indian business houses and investment institutions to realise their potential in this unique and exciting field of man­agement of India’s resources.

India today is different from what it was a few years ago or ten years ago. The IITs are not the same institutions that they had in the old days. There is a difference in their ethos today. ICT has changed the world because of the IITs. While we did something about IITs, now it is going to happen that the IITs themselves will have to change their ethos to adapt to new social requirements. It is going to happen that the IITs will change their character so that their own personnel have to change their ethos to match the ethos of these new IITs. So, I would like this to happen naturally and this is going to happen naturally because Indian culture has this insipidiveness which is a pleasure to be part of, a part of which is available not just to the scientists but to the entire society. There is so much of culture in India that is available not just in the laboratories but in every home. I feel a little sad about the declining interest in IITs, but I am told that these institutions are not sinking in their own sewage. Perhaps some of the IITs may have to change the ethos of their science.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-04)

My idea of India is that we should have peace in our country. India is a vast country, with many rivulets of peace and plenty. Our country has the spirit of the age of Tandi. Our country has the strength of Gautam Buddha. There is a synergy between our spiritual tradition and our cultural diversity. Many religions co–exist peacefully in our land.

In the year that has passed by, my Government has worked with pleasure and success to remove all the disabilities that have come down among the people. To widen the horizons of India’s development. To add new dimensions to our Self–Reliance. I have given to it the slogan ‘Jan Dabang Petchka Sukhinah’, which means ‘Let us march optimally together’.

India has been fighting against terrorism for more than four decades. Our history bears testimony to this. Every Indian was involved in this struggle. Every Indian came as a prisoner of war. With our modern weapons and technology, we can – and we shall – completely annihilate Pakistan.

Pakistan is a major threat to peace in our region. Indeed, it is the single most important foreign policy challenge before India. As we have already explained, Pakistan is an enemy of peace because of its violations of the tenets of its own tripartite integrity.

My idea of India is to be self–confident, to care for ordinary people’s welfare, and to join them in aspiration:

to see that this poor years come to us bearing bright prospects;

to help the one percent that still have not achieved success;

to keep alive this aspiration:

to join hands to make a brighter future;

to take the struggle to the next level;

to take a no–holds–barred, no–neglect approach to solving the problems of daily life for the poor;

to make them face the facts that they have to face;

to help them to understand that success is winning over temporary success;

to help them to know that nothing unites nations more than the power of good intentions;

to be friends with all people, especially since their lives are interwoven in the drama of life;

to realize that progress is never absolute;

In recent years, we in India have been taking many forays into the world to seek knowledge and seek rest. But a world without a centre of knowledge would be a world without a future. We have wanted this for a long time. We are glad to see that the information vacuum has not only been filled but also filled with the latest technologies and fads.

Before I conclude, I must congratulate Prof. Malhotra for having given us an insightful talk. I extend my best wishes to him for continued intellectual stimulation and for the continued health of our noble Nation.

The last point I wish to drive home is about the people. They are the most important asset for poverty alleviation. The poor, especially the women and children, are the most helpless in large urban areas. They cannot imagine anything bad happening to them if they don’t get aid. They know what kind of help is needed, and what kind of help is forthcoming. But they cannot bring themselves to believe that the situation in such areas has changed significantly, or at all in the past.

For this, I am eternally grateful to the people of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. I am especially grateful to the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and to the Gandhis who nurtured his family and extended community. This gathering, together with the people of Gandhinagar and Varanasi, has given new meaning to the concept of nationhood.

We can say with some confidence that the nation is stronger than the individual. We recognise that India belongs to all, and not to a few, a lofty, self–confident stand that we have taken in the past. For this, I give my personal best wishes to every one of you. I am sure that you will draw from this concept, and also from the genuine ideals that have fuelled your campaign.

My idea of India is that of a harmonious whole, and not that of a small section, which has an exaggerated and even a racist view of India. I also have no desire to impose my views on anyone. If anybody has any reason to doubt my sincerity, ask myself why I have written this book in this book, and not in another book, and why I have retained all the personal details of my life here, and not in other books. If anybody has any reason to doubt my sincerity, ask yourself why I have travelled to faraway lands, and not been satisfied with the answers I have received.

I began to study Indian history because of its fascination with the multiverses of India. But, as all of you know, India has a long and proud history of culture and civilisation going back into the time ‘ it was the greatest of empires. All of you know that Indian civilisation also includes a rich tapestry of diversities, which has wrapped itself in a rich tapestry of diversities, of ideologies that have infused India’s civilization, and of language, that has made India an integral part of the larger world. The vast cultural diversity that is our society reflects this diversity, as much as it does the strength of our national identity.

Friends, Film–Making in India has a long and proud history. From Ajayi to Pather here, and from Deepika to Mahatma, filmmakers have infused life into every artistic form. The contribution of filmmakers to Indian Cinema is truly amazing.

Films have an importance in today’s world. Our society has embraced Movies as a way of life. Our grandparents had seen many a film ‘ and many a sad film ‘ in their lifetimes. No wonder, that Indian cinema had a global success in the twenties and thirties. That it became a national treasure, that is beyond measure, is beyond my comprehension. My condolences to the family of the late Deepika Padukone and her many friends. I am happy that many Ofra films have an enduring significance for Indian cinema.

Manmohan Singh (2004-14)

The idea of India is truly one of the top priorities of all our policy makers. I assure you that we will make every possible effort to fulfill this historic dream of our people. I am confident that the resources of the Government and the people of India will be deployed in a continuous manner to meet the many challenges your country faces.

The University of California has a long and illustrious history of cutting across States and Civilizations.  I do not believe that we have a single equivalent in the other region of the world.

On the one hand, it is a prerequisite for good governance that the people of India should know the basics of the right to ask a question without relying on retorts and on and on the other hand that people of India should know the basics of maintaining a proper balance between the demands of order and the vulnerabilities of the present.

The liberal and tolerant approach of the University has also been an asset for our country. I would like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to a fellow human being, Professor Amartya Sen, one of the great champions of free enquiry and the promoting of inquiry.  I have known Professor Amartya for some time now and I have always found him to be a well-  meaning and intelligent fellow. 

The globalising world we live in has brought with it new opportunities and challenges.  It was in this environment that our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru spoke in 1941. He drew our attention to the need for India to reform its economic system and take on new responsibilities in the management of the world economy. India was then a relatively newly industrialising economy, but it was quickly overcome by the pressures of the emerging world.

The Museum should become a voice for the rich cultural heritage of the United Kingdom and all the great museums of the world. It should be a forum for promoting both art and art memoirs. It should be a place where we can all reflect on our own in time how our own museums and galleries have contributed to the richness and vibrancy of our cultural inheritance and I thus come to India.

The idea of India is the inspired effort of our great scientist, astronaut, and innovator Dr. Homon frik. He is a living tribute to the vision of a new India and a new India.

The time has come for an India that is known for science and technology, but also has an economy that is growing at the pace of the past. We need to think of ways of helping the development of the young and old of our country. I hope you will take up this task and see the evolution of Indian economy as an integral part of the grand plan of Jawaharlal Nehru and his great forefathers. I wish you all well in your deliberations. I wish your deliberations all success. I congratulate Shaar Bhairon and Venu University for attaining the world’s highest institutional honour. This is the first time a Delhi University has won the prestigious award.

The idea of India is yet to be firmly established. This has been made plain by the slow progress in attaining economic parity and prosperity with developed economies. Great challenges lie ahead for our economic system and for our people. The world’s attention will be called to these and other issues when we meet in #G20 Summit to discuss the Future of the Modern Economy. But for now, let us say that India is on the right path. Our growth rate is the third highest in the world, at close to 8percent. It is also impressive given the large current account deficit. Our savings rate is much higher than that of many of our competitors.

Liquidity is another important constraint that has stood in the way of a rapid economic growth in the medium term. I am happy to see that the Reserve Bank acknowledges the role of fiscal policy in controlling financial flows, especially of foreign investment in the financial sector. I am conscious that maintaining a stable exchange rate is a prerequisite for sustainable long–term growth. The relative devaluation of the rupee is an important contributor to the stabilization of the foreign exchange exchange.

I am confident that the Indian people have the underlying vision and spirit to take the country forward. I am confident that within our nation there will be a new generation of men and women who will be world class engineers, designers and builders. In the coming years India will once again become a power house. Our children will have the capacity to generate enough income to see their investment invested for their development.

I have always believed India has a very important role in the world and a special obligation to play a positive role to contribute to peace and goodwill among different nations and peoples. The Indo–China relationship is on the path of sustained progress. Both countries are well placed to realise our common developmental objectives. The bilateral relations between India and China are of immense value to both. We stand to broaden and deepen our cooperation with each other.

The idea of India is not new to this world. Only, this world has lacked the courage to learn its role and to emulate its example. This has created a gap in our development plans and, even now, we have remained as a relatively backward and unemulated economy. This may be the reason why a decade or so ago, if you looked at the world of Indians with regard to India, there were few books you could name that began with the words “belonging to our people”. It was only a few years later when the “Organisation of Indian Economy” was erected to reflect the Organisation’s achievements in the fields of business, finance and management. However, the “Organisation” has clearly not lived up to the expectations we have experienced in its early years. Its capacity to provide finance and expertise has also not been as robust as we would like it to be.

Narendra Modi (2014–)

The idea of India is ‘All Together Now’. I would like you all to try to take this vision to your hearts, free from achievements and failures. If you succeed, it will be your own achievement. If you fail in your efforts, you will not have the strength to continue on your path. If we want to take India to a position of all–round success.

Are you ever surprised to hear rubbish being spread on the name of a country? If it is easy to write, signs up, start a graphical serving, it becomes easy to make money. We have to make people aware of the love and respect for the country. For this there is a need to do something for them.

My idea of India is simple – to make every citizen of India umi-sisters too; every Indian citizen should be a umi-sister, especially a son, daughter, grandson, great-grandfather, great-grandmother. Each and every citizen should have confidence, with the help of technology, at the mercy of the government.

My idea of India is to do good, and bring about change in the lives of the common man. In India, we feel proud that I got the opportunity to serve my poor family.

My idea of India is my mind and it cannot be separated from my thinking. If our mind is the glass of water, our body is the sand of beaches then why can a mathematician be a scientist? This is the lot of mathematics required in life.

We have to take the country forward by following our own traditions too. Navratri is the festival of service. And it is our tradition to serve the Fatherland. And today when we are with our PM, I observe that he is doing this work from the rear. He is not doing it from the front. That is why I say that we should not feel embarrassed for sending our PM.

My dear countrymen, Arun Ji was saying in the beginning that there was a time when the PM used to visit foreign countries. There were times when he was chosen for the same. But today, he is also talking about the service of the country in foreign countries. And this will not do. I, personally, will visit each and every country of the world.

But these were my close friends, but change comes often, that comes often, such changes come. I strongly believe that if I talk of India’s future, of mine and my friend Narendra Modi, our future will not be about the politics of the 20th century, the politics of the 21st century or even of the 22nd century. It will be about the future of the next generation. Our future will not be about winning or losing earnest or endearingly. Our future will be about making the most out of our existence.

Your vision is my aspiration.

Your hopes and dreams are my strength.

Our paths will connect the two of us.

Together we can walk to a better future.

Thank you.

It is a great pleasure for every Indian to be a part of this cultural heritage.

Our ancient texts tell us that freedom is reserved for the blessed.

We see it in the dedication of different sorts of special monuments or festivals to these great heroes or scholars.

Some years from now, the entire world will celebrate this festival of continuity.

We should remember the words of our great poet Maniputra îma nirajuh.

We need to create a family which values reverence, quality, talent, innovation, work and sacrifice. Thus, when we walk on the path of development, we do not let ourselves be divided.

This the society in which the welfare of the poor is as big as the welfare of a child. It’s the heritage and now we have to accept it. And what is the solution to this? The solution is that we have to move towards aspirational society. What is the reason that in India people born after 1971, who gave birth to 200–250 children, living in slum, or in slum areas, who had to wear shoes in their feet, no one could imagine that they could become world’s tallest or the tallest person in the world. No one could imagine.

My idea of India is ‘One India, One Constitution, One Rule, One Bureaucratic Mode’.

Who can argue with empirical evidence on your side? Who will argue with experiences? If the opinion is true, you must have tried it. Can you deny it? Anybody can dispute with empirical evidence? Every generation has questioned me, i.e. have I ever tried it?

Are we doing our work of development or not, are we doing our work or not? Amrit, the children who never imagined of starting their education, have begun their journey with their parents’ blessings. They have started their studies while carrying the confidence of parents. Can we forget that Amrita is Braverman, the daughter of a farmer?

The idea of India is to serve everybody. Our values are such that even if there is no money there is no injustice in serving the poor. We are far-sighted and compassionate. We are honest. We are unambiguous. Our ancestors have written this. Our scriptures, our scriptures say so. Our poetry, our poetry says so. Our folklores say so. Our idols say so. It is our duty to serve and to serve everybody. We have to prepare ourselves for life in that way.

Our first justice is our duty to the poor. Our first duty is to serve the poor.

Today, the world is moving toward multi–culturalism. Why would Hindustan deliver us such a bad message? But unfortunately, Hindustan has decided to face this threatening change. You are no longer allowed to send native and speak of forming a community.

If we want to make people aware of what the greatness is, then we have to promote a message of respect and honor towards the society. If the society is made aware then the country will automatically become aware.

I became concerned that these mothers would sell the animals to the estates and get a huge profit. But I was successful in explaining these women. They would sell the animals to the villages, to the families and the whole city would be happy.

Appendix 2: Alternative exhibition layouts of the Chat-Hi: installation

Fig.4. Alternative A, one-to-one display
Fig.5. Alternative B, group display

References and Notes

[1] Thompson, Dennis. 2010. “Representing Future Generations: Political Presentism and Democratic Trusteeship.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13(1):17–37.

[2] Numerous historical analogies in contemporary India are encapsulated in everyday political idioms such as “undeclared emergency,” “second partition,” “unfinished independence,” “semi-colonialism” or even “fascism.”

[3] Moffat, Chris. 2019. India’s Revolutionary Inheritance: Politics and the Promise of Bhagat Singh. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[4] Loyer, Emmanuelle. 2004. “Sous les pavés, la Résistance. La Nouvelle Résistance populaire, appropriation et usages de la référence résistante après Mai 1968.” Pourquoi résister ? Résister pour quoi faire? Pp. 181–96 in. Paris, FR: CNRS Editions.

[5] Khilnani, Sunil. 2015. “Nehru’s Faith.” Economic and Political Weekly 37(48):4793–99.

[6] See pp.58-59, Nehru, Jawaharlal. [1946] 2004. The Discovery of India. New Delhi, IN: Penguin Books India.

[7] Cf. p.1376, Nota 1, Quaderno 11 (XVIII), Volume 2 in Gramsci, Antonio. [1948] 2014. Apparato critico: Edizione critica dell’Istituto Gramsci. Prima edizione “Nuova Universale Einaudi.” edited by V. Gerratana. Torino, IT: Einaudi Tascabili. Biblioteca.

[8] See p.12 in Blanco, María del Pilar, and Esther Peeren. 2013. “Conceptualizing Spectralities.” Pp. 1–29 in The spectralities reader: ghosts and haunting in contemporary cultural theory, edited by M. del P. Blanco and E. Peeren. London, UK: Bloomsbury Acad.

[9] Good, Byron J. 2019. “Hauntology: Theorizing the Spectral in Psychological Anthropology.” Ethos 47(4):411–26.

[10] See p.226 in Gunning, Tom. 2013. “To Scan a Ghost: The Ontology of Mediated Vision.” Pp. 207–45 in The spectralities reader: ghosts and haunting in contemporary cultural theory, edited by M. del P. Blanco and E. Peeren. London, UK: Bloomsbury Acad.

[11] Bajpai, Anandita. 2018. Speaking the Nation: The Oratorical Making of Secular, Neoliberal India. First edition. New Delhi, IN: Oxford University Press.

[12] Zachariah, Benjamin. 2004. Nehru. London, UK; New York, USA: Routledge.

[13] Cf. p.183 in Khilnani, Sunil. 2012. The Idea of India. 2nd. Ed. Paperback. New Delhi, IN: Penguin Books India.

[14] See p.46 in Geuss, Raymond. 2008. Philosophy and Real Politics. Princeton, USA: Princeton University Press.

[15] Except for Narendra Modi, who is both the previous (i.e. during the 22nd Ministry of the Republic of India, 2014–2019) and the current (23rd Ministry, 2019–) Prime Minister, all the other personalities are former executive heads.

[16] Radford, Alec, Jeffrey Wu, Rewon Child, David Luan, Dario Amodei, and Ilya Sutskever. 2019. “Language Models Are Unsupervised Multitask Learners.” Pp. 1–24 in PMLR: Proceedings of Machine Learning Research. Vol. 97. Long Beach, USA.

[17] Radford, Alec, Karthik Narasimhan, Tim Salimans, and Ilya Sutskever. 2018. “Improving Language Understanding by Generative Pre-Training.” Computer Science at UBC. Retrieved April 27, 2020 (https://www.cs.ubc.ca/~amuham01/LING530/papers/radford2018improving.pdf).

[18] For the implementation in R, see Keydana, Sigrid, and Javier Luraschi. 2019. “Innocent Unicorns Considered Harmful? How to Experiment with GPT-2 from R.” RStudio AI Blog. Retrieved April 27, 2020 (https://blogs.rstudio.com/tensorflow/posts/2019-10-23-gpt-2/).

[19] Raffel, Colin, Noam Shazeer, Adam Roberts, Katherine Lee, Sharan Narang, Michael Matena, Yanqi Zhou, Wei Li, and Peter J. Liu. 2019. “Exploring the Limits of Transfer Learning with a Unified Text-to-Text Transformer.” ArXiv:1910.10683 [Cs, Stat].

[20] Lozano, André. 2015. “Chris Marker Dialector Reloaded KansasFest.” Chris Marker. Retrieved May 10, 2020 (https://chrismarker.org/chris-marker-dialector-reloaded-andre-lozano-english-translation).

[21] Béghin, Cyril. 2013. “L’intelligence d’une machine.” Vertigo 46(2):117–21.

[22] de Cayeux, Agnès, Andrès Lozano, and Annick Rivoire. 2015. “History of the Dialector Program.” Chris Marker. Retrieved May 10, 2020 (https://chrismarker.org/history-of-the-dialector-program).

[23] Rivoire, Annick. 2013. “Chris Marker, Identification d’un Geek.” Poptronics. Retrieved May 10, 2020 (https://poptronics.fr/Chris-Marker-identification-d-un).

[24] Benjamin, Walter. [1969] 2007. “Theses on the Philosophy of History.” Pp. 253–65 in Illuminations, edited by H. Arendt. Schocken Books.

[25] Ryan, Marie-Laure. 1997. “Interactive Drama: Narrativity in a Highly Interactive Environment.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies 43(3):677–707.

[26] Karras, Tero, Timo Aila, Samuli Laine, Antti Herva, and Jaakko Lehtinen. 2017. “Audio-Driven Facial Animation by Joint End-to-End Learning of Pose and Emotion.” ACM Transactions on Graphics 36(4):1–12. See also Vougioukas, Konstantinos, Stavros Petridis, and Maja Pantic. 2020. “Realistic Speech-Driven Facial Animation with GANs.” International Journal of Computer Vision 128(5):1398–1413.

[27] Deluermoz, Quentin, and Pierre Singaravélou. 2016. Pour Une Histoire Des Possibles: Analyses Contrefactuelles et Futurs Non Advenus. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

[28] Bunzl, Martin. 2004. “Counterfactual History: A User’s Guide.” The American Historical Review 109(3):845–58.

[29] See p.85 in Ferguson, Niall. 1999. “Virtual History: Towards a ‘chaotic’ Theory of the Past.” Pp. 1–90 in Virtual history: alternatives and counterfactuals, edited by N. Ferguson. New York, USA: Basic Books.

[30] Budzianowski, Paweł, and Ivan Vulić. 2019. “Hello, It’s GPT-2 – How Can I Help You? Towards the Use of Pretrained Language Models for Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems.” Pp. 15–22 in Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation. Hong Kong, CN: Association for Computational Linguistics.

[31] See pp. pp. 25–26 in Derrida, Jacques. [1993] 2006. Spectres de Marx: L’Etat de La Dette, Le Travail Du Deuil et La Nouvelle Internationale. Paris, FR: Editions Galilée.

[32] In the DIPMS corpus, the speeches delivered in Hindi or in other official languages have been translated into English.

[33] Peirce, Charles. [1932] 1985. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. 5th Ed. edited by C. Hartshorne, P. Weiss, and C. Peirce. Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press.

[34] Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine, and Dvora Yanow. 2012. Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes. New York, USA: Routledge.

[35] See the notion of “fresh contact” in Mannheim, Karl. [1928] 1952. “The Problem of Generations.” Pp. 276–320 in Essays on the sociology of knowledge, edited by P. Kecskemeti. London, UK: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

[36] Unless stated otherwise, text within quotation marks refer from that point on to material generated by the model.

[37] See p.608 in Bayly, C. A. 2015. “The Ends of Liberalism and the Political through of Nehru’s India.” Modern Intellectual History 12(3):605–26.

[38] Bulat, Luana, Stephen Clark, and Ekaterina Shutova. 2017. “Modelling Metaphor with Attribute-Based Semantics.” Pp. 523–28 in Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter. Valencia, ES: Association for Computational Linguistics.

[39] Tanasescu, Chris, Vaibhav Kesarwani, and Diana Inkpen. 2018. “Metaphor Detection by Deep Learning and the Place of Poetic Metaphor in Digital Humanities.” Pp. 122–27 in The Thirty-First International Flairs Conference (FLAIRS-31). Melbourne, AU.

[40] Gentner, Dedre, Brian F. Bowdle, Phillip Wolff, and Consuelo B. Boronat. 2001. “Metaphor Is like Analogy.” Pp. 199–253 in The Analogical Mind Perspectives from Cognitive Science , edited by D. Gentner, K. Holyoak, and B. Nokinov. Cambridge, USA: MIT Press.

[41] Jasper, Robert J., and Leslie M. Blaha. 2017. “Interface Metaphors for Interactive Machine Learning.” Pp. 521–34 in Augmented Cognition. Neurocognition and Machine Learning. Vol. 10284, edited by D. D. Schmorrow and C. M. Fidopiastis. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

[42] Bande Mataram (Mother, I bow to thee) and Bharat mata ki jai (Hail to mother India), both originating from Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Anandamath were popular slogans during the independence movement, but the emphasis on the Mother as a fully-fledged Hindu goddess progressively turned the icon into a characteristically Hindu nationalist symbol. See Clémentin-Ojha, Catherine. 2014. “‘India, That Is Bharat…’: One Country, Two Names.” SAMAJ: South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (10).

[43] Overrepresentation of cooccurrents – words that tend to appearing together in a given corpus – is based on words’ hypergeometric probability distribution as computed with the software of text analysis TXM. C.f. also Heiden, Serge, Jean-Philippe Magué, and Bénédicte Pincemin. 2010. “TXM: Une Plateforme Logicielle Open-Source Pour La Textométrie-Conception et Développement.” Pp. 1021–32 in Proceedings of JADT’2010 . Vol. 2. Rome, IT. See also Manning, Christopher D., and Hinrich Schütze. 1999. Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

[44] A lemma comprises the forms of words appearing as an entry in a dictionary. For example the lemma “think” represents “thinks”, “thinking” and “thought”.

[45] Numbers in Fig.2 are estimates of the strength of the association between the pivot lemma India (comprising Indian and Indians) and its cooccurrents.

[46] 125 refers to 125 crores (1 250 000 000), the approximate number of inhabitants in India.

[47] Basu, Anustup. 2020. Hindutva as Political Monotheism. Durham, USA: Duke University Press.

[48] Khilnani, Sunil. 2009. “Nehru’s Judgement.” Pp. 254–78 in Bibliography of the works of John Dunn, edited by R. Bourke and R. Geuss. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[49] Visvanathan, Shiv. 2020. “The Republic of Modi.” Seminar 725(January):224–33.

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