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Culture: Power and Independence

Culture: Power and Independence


Culture: Power and Independence


The Hindi Department of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College held a lecture on the poignant topic ‘Culture: Power and Independence’ i.e. Sanskriti: Satta aur Swadhinta. The chief guest of the evening was Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of University of Delhi. Dr. Sunil Tiwari moderated the event. Other personalities on the dais were Prof. Hari Mohan Sharma, Head of Department of University of Delhi, Dr. Kamlesh Kumari, faculty at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College. The speaker of the evening was Shri Ashok Vajpeyi, former Civil Servent and renowned poet and essayist.

Culture: Power and Independence

Ashok Vajpeyi delivering his speech

Shri Ashok Vajpeyi took the podium and talked about various aspects of Culture and its correlation with power. He said that the pre-independence era saw many great personalities writing about culture. It all started with Mahatma Gandhi writing Hind Swaraj in the year 1909, followed by Rabindranath Tagore and Shri Aurobindo. In more recent times Ram Manohar Lohia. They all did a commendable work in their respective field to inform the masses.

Culture: Power and Independence

Ashok Vajpeyi said that power has many menifestation

But in the post-independence era the exact opposite happened. India fell in the trap of radical western thought. He said that people in India surrendered against the west. That is was an example of a fall of a culture.


He then came to the different meaning of power. He said that people see power only in the framework of political class. The state and its power are often the only context. But in actuality power has many manifestations. Like religious power; a priest introduces a Fatwa and people going gaga over it, is an example of religious power. It is entirely different from political power. In fact, the caste system in India, which has been practised for over years now, is an example of power. It is a social power. The hierarchical distribution of different castes, which puts people in different sects of priority, is a perfect example of how fanatically people take power to be. It is negative and discriminatory is a matter in itself, but its power nonetheless.

Culture: Power and Independence

Dr. Sunil Tiwari- the moderator for the evening

Faith for that matter, even though it’s a personal choice, has social implications. The temples, the mosques, the churches, are not personal but social property and that transpires to faith as well. He then talked about economic power which is prevalent in the recent times. He said that economic power is so powerful that it is taking over political power. Everything is market driven.

Culture: Power and Independence

The staging area for the lecture

He then talked about two major revolutionary ideas which transformed India in ancient time. He said that India gave rise to the concept of Society and Individual. Both the concept revolutionised the world. But both of them are on the cusp of extinction. Everyone wants to ape each other. They want to become a singular entity. This singularity is driven by market. It is easy for market to feed on singular entity rather than a diverse concept. Individuality gives rise to diversity. But in recent times the individual esteem has taken a beating. So, both these concept, which contribute greatly to culture, are on the verge of perishing.

Culture: Power and Independence

The guest of honour-Dinesh Singh

Towards the latter part of his speech he talked about the political establishment. He said that he has been a part of the institution of political establishment. He said that it seems to be united but actually is not. One of his friends, Shri Vijay Devnarayan Sahi, used to say that India has every possible law to curb individual freedom but it’s a blessing in disguise that the machinery responsible for the implementation is inadequate. The inadequacy of the machinery is responsible for individual freedom.


To sum up he said that to understand culture one must understand power and power could mean different things at different place. In a democracy to, approach power with singular mindset is a mistake.


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