Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram launches his book Standing Guard — A Year in Oppositionhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/picture-gallery-others/senior-congress-leader-p-chidambaram-launches-his-book-standing-guard-a-year-in-opposition/

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram launches his book Standing Guard — A Year in Opposition

Chidambaram was speaking after the release of his book "Standing Guard— A year in Opposition", a compilation of his Sunday columns published in the Indian Express in 2015.

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Former Finance Minister P Chidambram on Friday launched his book "Standing Guard - A Year in Opposition" a compilation of his Sunday columns published in the Indian Express in 2015.

The event saw the presence of many senior Congress leaders incluing former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh, Shashi Tharoor Rahul Gandhi. J&K National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah, JD(U) member and Author Pavan K Verma, social scientist Shiv Visvanathan, Anant Goenka and Sanjay Baru and many were also present at the book launch. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

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Speaking at the book launch, Chidambaram said that in just one year, the narrative of this Government had dramatically changed from one of development to one of division.
There have been only “three occasions,” when India has been most “polarised,” said the former Union Finance Minister and Home Minister: the Partition, the demolition of the Babri Masjid and now. (Source: Express photo by Aaron Pereira)

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"2014 was a year of acrimony and I thought 2015 will be a year of acronyms but at the end of 2015 it is a most polarised year. Today the year has turned out to be deeply polarised. How polarised the Indian society has become. Please talk to a Muslim, dalit, or a man of small land holding. There is great insecurity and fear as to where we are heading, towards a deeply divided polarised society. This is what we want we you to think about," he said. (Source: Express photo by Aaron Pereira)

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His observations came days after HRD Minister Smriti Irani defended the government action in the JNU in Parliament. In an apparent counter to Irani, Chidambaram said: “What do we understand by a university? The university is not a monastery. We are confusing between universities and monasteries. A university is a place, where I, as a student, at my age, has the right to be wrong,” he said, adding that in a university there is no need to always be profound as “I can be ridiculous also”. (Source: Express photo by Aaron Pereira)

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“How are we framing debate in the country? Please reflect on the manner, the perverse manner in which debates are being framed,” the Congress leader said. “Look at how the debate is being framed today,” Chidambaram said. “The debate in Dadri was not whether the man had beef or buffalo meat or mutton in his house. That is how the debate is being framed. The real issue was whether the mob had any right to lynch a person. The debate in Hyderabad central university is being framed as was he (Rohith Vemula) a Dalit or not a Dalit. The real debate is how an insensitive university drove a first-generation learner from an underprivileged family to commit a suicide." (Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri)

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Underlining the importance of standing guard in a democracy, Chidambaram, to much applause, quoted poet Thiruvalluvar: “A king without a critic will fall even if he has no enemies. A king must embrace his critic. A king must listen to his critic. A king must welcome his critic.” (Source: Express photo by Aaron Pereira)

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Chidambaram said that in his first column of 2015, he had written that 2014 was the year of acrimony, “2015 promises to be the year of acronyms”. “Today, at the end of the year I am afraid”, as it turned out to be a “year of deep polarisation”.
He noted that when he had begun the column Across the Aisle in The Sunday Express in January 2014, he had “decided to write mainly on economics, but as the year went by the narrative has changed so dramatically, that there are fewer columns on economics and more columns on other issues.” (Source: Express photo by Aaron Pereira)