I think most people here are aware that the M.L. Sondhi Institute for Asia- Pacific Affairs is an independent think-tank, a continuation of the Institute for Asia Pacific Security established by Professor M.L. Sondhi in 2003.
Sadly, he passed away shortly after.
We aim to continue his
work by studying the historic emergence of the Asia Pacific Region in international politics in the twenty first century, especially with regard to understanding certain key political, security, economic and cultural issues confronting the region.
has chosen a subject of great interest not only to China watchers but also to anyone who takes an interest in international affairs.
says it is a question of vital interest to the whole world.
I want to thank the Institute of Asia Pacific Affairs
and Ms Sondhi
for asking me to be here.
As the Chairperson said earlier, I am among those who can call themselves a student of Chinese affairs, but I am certainly not an expert on democracy and China.
A lifetime of study of China is not enough to make you an expert.
It is, I suppose, studying what is going on China that qualifies one to say something on the subject.
But before I do that I would like to recall my association with Mr Sondhi
It was very brief and episodic.
I remember the first time we met was way back in 1967 when he had just won the election from New Delhi to become a member of parliament.
came to see me.
I was very impressed that he
should do so and it did great credit to him as he
was a sitting MP.
The immediate trigger for the meeting was the protest demonstration organised by us students outside the Soviet Embassy
in support of Czechoslovakia and against the invasion by Soviet Union Forces in mid-1968.
came to see me because I was one of the organisers of that demonstration.
came all the way to Jubilee Hall and asked, what is it that we can do together?
Therefore I am particularly grateful to you, Ms Sondhi
, for asking me to be here and giving me this chance to recall and remember these events of forty years ago.
Also, continuing with the general tenor of all of us remembering our association with Professor M. L. Sondhi
(in whose name this host institution has been set up), I must also share, very briefly, my own association with Professor M.L. Sondhi
Professor Sondhi was my teacher at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
And, apart from all things that you may be aware about him, I have the memories of a young student who found this Professor extremely accessible to his students.
It is only gradually and much later that we were to discover his
other great achievements.
That was something very unique about his
I think this memory of mine of Professor M.L. Sondhi
has direct relevance to the theme of democracy that we are debating here today.
In some ways it also highlights how such relationships, perceived by young minds, can influence the whole evolution of certain understandings about democratic traditions and processes at all levels.
This fond memory of Professor Sondhi
clearly flows into my presentation in our discussion about the prospect of democracy in the People's Republic of China.
Before I go into these I also would like to thank Ms. Sondhi
I was also a student of JNU about twelve years back between 1992 to 1994, when I had the chance of being a student of Professor Sondhi.
I also remember him as somebody very accessible and very friendly.
This is also a moment to remember him and know how great a human being he
, Professor Swaran Singh and Dr. Rangachari gave examples of the recent earthquake in Sichuan and how the Chinese have been more open about it as compared with Burma, which kept everything under a tight lid and did not allow relief or aid workers from outside.
(Ms Sondhi was absent from the hall and the matter was not taken up)