Renowned thinkers, from various streams and more than a dozen countries across the world, will converge in Patna later this week to take part in a five-day international conference on the life, ideas and influence of Karl Marx, its organizers said Wednesday.
Prominent among those who would be attending the function is economist Lord Meghnad Desai, who would be delivering the keynote address on June 16 and present the summary of the conference at its valedictory session on June 20, Neeraj Kumar, Convenor of the Academic Advisory Committee of the Conference, told reporters.
Kumar, who is also the Managing Editor of the Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance (CEPPF), which functions under the aegis of city-based think tank Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), said other prominent speakers would include noted sociologist and columnist Dipankar Gupta, former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar and Samuel Hollander, one of the foremost historians of economic thought.
Addressing the same news conference, Shashwat Gautam, one of the Directors of CEPPF, said they had made a conscious decision to retain the academic character of the five-day event. Hence, although a number of political figures like Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and leader of opposition in the assembly Tejashwi Yadav have been invited, they have not been assigned a place among the speakers, he said.
Gautam said they wish to apprise the young generation of the historical significance of Karl Marx as a thinker and his impact on world politics. As a matter of fact, even though communism as a political ideology is becoming extinct world over, many welfare measures of free-market economies can be seen as inspired, even if in an indirect way, by Marx’s emphasis on equitable distribution of wealth, he said.
It is for this very reason that even academicians who are not necessarily of Leftist leanings have been invited. Lord Meghnad Desai is a notable example. He can not be called a hard core Marxist and his sympathies for free-market economics are well-known, Gautam said.
He said the delegates at the conference were more than 200 in number and from about 18 countries, many of these in far-off places like Latin America and Africa and the themes of discussion would include, but not remain limited to, Marxism in the Indian context, Marxism and Feminism, Latin American scenario, Russian experience and broad global trends.
Gautam also said it is a matter of pride for Bihar that such a mammoth event is being organized here when the 200th birth anniversary of Marx is being observed world over.
The state has had a vibrant intellectual past and we are dedicating the conference to the memory of historians Pijushendu Gupta and Radha Krishna Chaudhary who were instrumental behind the conference organized at Begusarai, way back in 1967, on the 150th birth anniversary of Marx, he said.
The conference at Begusarai, known as the Moscow of Bihar in those days by virtue of the vibrant communist movement there, was attended by esteemed historians like Debiprasad Chattopadhyay and Ram Saran Sharma and hailed as the finest and the largest conference in India at that time, Shashwat said.