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Symbiosis Law School, Pune (SLS-P), a constituent of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) organised the prestigious 9th Late Shri B.G. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture in association with the Pune Chapter of the Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT). The lecture was held on the virtual platform, Zoom on 15th September 2020 at 4:30 PM IST. The event was compered by Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, who warmly introduced the panel to the student attendees.


Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU, delivered the Welcome Address to the student viewers in which she heartily greeted the distinguished speakers, the members of the PCGT and all student attendees. Dr. Gurpur commenced her address by extending a warm welcome to the Chief Guest, Shri Shekhar Dutt, and expressed delight over the great learning opportunity for the students in attendance. She spoke of Shri B.G. Deshmukh as a person with the synergy to transform students intellectually. She stated his influence on this institution as extremely profound and mentioned the scholarship SLS-Pune has dedicated to him. Dr. Gurpur went on to praise SLS-Pune’s collaboration with PCGT and the opportunities this unique partnership has provided to the students of SLS-Pune. Furthermore, Dr. Gurpur went on to extol the contributions of Dr. Majumdar in the cutting edge education, professional development and focused skill development provided by SLS-Pune, by saying: “The excellence our college has attained, is possible purely because of the initiative undertaken by Chancellor Majumdar and all the efforts he has taken to give students a pedestal for excellence.” 


Following the Welcome Address, Prof. Dr. Rajani Gupte, Vice Chancellor, SIU was welcomed to address the student viewers. Dr. Gupte began by expressing her heartfelt praise for Late Shri B.G. Deshmukh and for the lasting impression he made on everyone he encountered. Dr. Gupte went on to stress the importance of learning from the life experiences of stalwarts. She remarked on the great relevance of the lecture’s topic, given the status quo in India. Dr. Gupte memorably concluded her address by emphasising on the virtues that service-learning provide students. Following Dr. Gupte’s address, Mr. A V Krishnan, IPS (Retd.) Member, PCGT introduced the student viewers to the functioning of the PCGT. Mr. Krishnan spoke on the foundation of PCGT in 2002 and its objectives of promoting good governance and transparency. Further, he discussed the work undertaken by PCGT, like working with RTI petitions, rehabilitation of rape victims, waste management, awareness programmes with regards to environmental issues, elections and the importance of voting. He acknowledged with gratitude the support PCGT has received from SIU in its expansion. He concluded with emphasising the significance of the Late Shri B.G. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture. 


Mr. Ajit Nimbalkar, IAS (Retd.), member of the PCGT, then introduced the attendees to Late Shri B.G. Deshmukh. He mentioned Shri B.G. Deshmukh’s role in establishing the validity of the role of IAS during Colonial rule. He spoke about the various distinguished positions held by him, from Secretary to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, to Cabinet Secretary in 1996. He also spoke about how the cause of good governance and social service were close to Shri Deshmukh’s heart and his firm belief that the ordinary citizen should always get justice, something he always fought to uphold, despite personal turmoil and loss. 


Subsequently, Shri Shekhar Dutt IAS (Retd.), Former Defence Secretary and Former Governor of Chhattisgarh graced the occasion by unveiling Lexet July- December 2019 along with Dr. Rajni Gupte, Mr. S.C. Nagpal and Dr. Shashikala Gurpur. Following the unveiling, Mr. S.S. Dodd, Former IAS and Member of PCGT, introduced the theme of the lecture and then introduced Mr. Shekhar Dutt, as a decorated former Army man and IAS Officer, who has served at various positions and won several awards and laurels for the same. Following his introduction, the Hon’ble Speaker, Shri Shekar Dutt took centre stage to deliver the Keynote Address.


Mr. Dutt began his address by paying his respect to Shri BG Deshmukh for his incredible service to his country, both as a Civil Servant and as the head of several NGOs. Further, he spoke about the positive relationship between security and good governance and the dangers to world security by various threats like poverty, casteism, communalism and newer threats like food security and energy security. He eruditely remarked: “People require not just simply an animal existence, but they demand and seek for individual freedoms, like the right to identity, a free society and more.


Mr. Dutt went on to express hope for India to rise above the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed upon the importance of the ambition of the people to rise up again. He gave the example of Dr. Abdul Kalam, who with his genius and perseverance helped develop world-class missile technology, despite the cynicism and lack of assistance from the rest of the world. Mr. Dutt spoke optimistically about how India’s “great legal infrastructure, an efficient political system and youthful and energized population” have made us a self-sustaining global power. He went on to comment upon the border situation with China, and stressed upon the urgency of repairing diplomatic relations with China, while simultaneously preparing for a two-front war with both Pakistan and China. He also went on to highlight the importance of CDS (Combined Defence Services) and the collaboration of the three Security forces - the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. 


Furthermore, speaking of economic growth, he stressed upon the progress of India in not having to depend upon exports, and the growing profitability of investors in India. He did, however lament upon the indiscriminate use of public resources like water and land in India. Mr. Shekar ended optimistically, saying, “India, with our huge workforce along with our intellectual capabilities, can truly add value to products and the world economy.” 

Following the Keynote Address, Mr. S. C. Nagpal, IRS (Retd.) Chairman of the Pune Chapter of the PCGT delivered the Presidential Address in which he spoke of the importance of patriotism in national security and contributing to the growth of the nation. Mr. Nagpal concluded his address by thanking and acknowledging the efforts of Dr. Gurpur and the staff at SLS-Pune for successfully organising this event despite the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.  


Mr. Nagpal’s speech was followed by a Question and Answer session that was moderated by Mr. Satish Khot, in which the student attendees posed questions to Shri Shekhar Dutt about topics as diverse as the use of UAPA to curb Freedom of Speech, the role of a State Governor, Water Scarcity and the lateral entry into Civil Services, among other topics. The above questions were answered promptly and eruditely by Mr. Dutt. After an interactive discussion with the student viewers, the virtual lecture ended on a successful note as Prof. Kshitij Naikade, Deputy Director (Administration), Symbiosis Law School, Pune, delivered the vote of thanks.


Way to SLS




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