Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political scientist

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The Right to Dissent

He has made it to these pages in the past few years for being synonymous with the term ‘public intellectual’. This time around, he has added a feather to his cap: as an educationist. As vice-chancellor of Ashoka University, Mehta is expected to live up to the expectations of the hype that accompanied his appointment last year, having taught at foreign universities before joining the Centre for Policy Research.

In these times, we have a dual task. We have to preserve the fundamental, legal, political and social freedoms we cherish. But we also have to make sure public argument becomes more credible and not undermined by its own self-defeating cynicism. If you are sceptical about the possibility of some arguments being better than others, you will be letting the forces of propaganda win. Not all truth is about power

He is not known to hide his displeasure of government policies. He had stepped down from the National Knowledge Commission in protest against the UPA’s. His criticism of the NDA Government has also been vehement. Recently, he wondered whether the Supreme Court of India was being turned into the ‘Servile Court of India’. He is ever ready to challenge people and institutions that undermine the Constitution. For him, intellectual intervention in matters of public interest is always top priority, and thanks to him, a private university in India has acquired an enviable stature.

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Salman Rushdie, Author | Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political scientist | Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Chairman | Srinath Raghavan, Historian | Ram Madhav, BJP Leader | Swapan Dasgupta, Political commentator and MP | Shashi Tharoor, Scholar Politician | TCA Raghavan, Historian | Ramachandra Guha, Historian | Brahma Chellaney, Strategic thinker | Uday Shankar, President, 21st Century Fox, Asia | Anantha Chandrakasan, Technologist | Gita Gopinath, Economist | Soumya Swaminathan, Paediatrician and clinical scientist | Prasoon Joshi, Poet and Censor Board chairman | Madhav Khosla, Scholar | Sidharth Luthra, Lawyer | Shayara Bano, Triple Talaq Petitioner | Reuben Abraham, Economic Analyst | Pratima Joshi, Architect | Reetika Khera, Economist | Shamika Ravi, Economist | Sharmila Bhattacharya, Scientist | Vijay Prasad, Historian | Nayanjot Lahiri, Historian | Avani Chaturvedi, Fighter Pilot, IAF | Pranshu and Nishant Patni, Entrepreneurs

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Virat Kohli, Captain, Indian Cricket Team | Priyanka Chopra, Actor | Jeet Thayil, Author | Anju Dodiya, Artist | Alia Bhatt, Actor | Rajkummar Rao, Actor | Chetan Bhagat, Author | Jahnvi Dameron Nandan, Perfumer | Rupi Kaur, Poet | Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor | Sujatha Gidla, Author | Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Architect | Prayaag Akbar, Author | Ruchika Sachdeva, Fashion Designer | Palghat R Ramprasad, Carnatic musician | Unni R, Author | Kunal Kamra, Comedian | Vikas Khanna, Chef and Television Personality | Shoojit Sircar, Filmmaker | Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton Player | CS Santosh, Off-Road Biking Champion | Mayank Austen Soofi, Author and Blogger | Ratish Nanda, Conservation Architect