Well-known Indian Lawyer and Social Activist Prashant Bhushan Visits California
Los Angeles, Oct. 18, 201
Gary Singh/ Raj
On October 15 in San Francisco Prashant Bhushan, who is known as one of India's top campaign lawyers and an aide to Anna Hazare, attended and received an award from the Indians for Collective Action, a San Francisco based non-profit association. During his visit to California, Prashant Bhushan discussed with US NRIs the Anna Hazare Campaign against corruption; Kashmir is complex problem, and that, “I never asked for separating Kashmir from India.”
Mr. Prashant Visits Los Angeles
Yadunandan Center for India Studies in conjunction with Indians for Collective Action of California State University in Long Beach organized a warm reception for Prashant Bhushan on October 16, 2011 to meet the NRI Community. The Solanki Lecture is an endowed lecture series established by Uka and Nalini Solanki, with the express intention of inviting a distinguished individual to discuss South Asia related topics.
The evening began with a social gathering of well-known successful business people, entrepreneurs, and students from the Los Angeles area attended the event. Mr. Arvind Joshi started the program with Bande Mataram and welcomed Dr. Gerry Riposa, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Riposa shared some of his concerns with the NRI Community and introduced Professor Arnold P. Kaminsky, who spoke few words for the community and introduced Shree Kanth Kocharlakota.
Mr. Kocharlakota gave a brief introduction and then introduced Mr. Prashant Bhushan to the audience. Mr Prashant Bhushan also shared, praised, and encouraged the NRI community to get more involved to fix the judiciary system and to stop the corruption. He also said that with more involvement of the NRI community, along with the Indian community, our voice will be heard.
Following his speech, there were questions from the audience, moderated by Professor Kaminsky. Arnold P. Kaminsky is Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach (CSLUB), and former Chair of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies. He was the Founding Director of the Yadunandan Center for India Studies at CSULB.
Members the audiences wanted to ask hundreds of question, such as - the Bofors Scam, Commonwealth Games scam, Adarsh Housing Scam, IPL scam, the Fodder Scam, the 2G scam, scandals involving the Army, the judiciary, poor quality of bullet proof vests for the policemen, Kargil Coffin scam, and of course, about the politicians.
Due to electronic media and NRI students travelling to India with their parents all the time (see photos), they were actively involved to do more research about corruptionn in India. Due to the short time and tight schedule, 10-15 people were allowed to ask questions.
Mr. Bhushan started his speach describing the root cause of judicial corruption. We have been witness to judicial corruption in the courts for a very long time. We know decisions are passed for extraneous considerations, but it is difficult to get hard evidence of this. The debate around judicial accountability has gotten really hot.
Prashant Bhushan also praised NRIs who have taken an active interest and helped India with many ways through sharing their expertise, technology and making investments.You can join any organization in any country who are helping in our anti-Corruption Campaign.
The Kashmir Issue
The management tried to void questions on the issue of Kashmir, but still people wanted to explore this further. Mostly, people understand that Bhushan's statement on Kashmir are his individual views and comments on the Jammu and Kashmir issue in which he had advocated for plebiscite in the State. Answering to the audience's questions, he said:
*The Jammu and Kashmir problem should be solved through peaceful discussions.
* You cannot have a “forced marriage.”
* We need to normalize the situation in Kashmir. You cannot control it with the army alone.
* We should consider giving autonomy and try to win over hearts and minds of the people there.
Mr. Sasidhar Kalagar, Nancy Quam-Wickham Chair, Department of History thanked Mr. Prashant Bhushan. At the end Mr. Arvind Joshi spoke few words, thanked everyone, and the event ended with the singing of India’s National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana.
There was a special dinner in honor of Prashant Bhushan followed. About thirty people joined for dinner with Prashant Bhushan at Kamal Restaurant, (6374 E. Pacific Coast Highway, # A, Long Beach, CA). Kamaljit, who owns five restaurants in the LA area, welcomed all guests and served a delicious meal.
Nalini Solanki, wife of Mr. Uka Solanki spoke around 3-5 minutes. By mentioning her background that her father was IPS officer and died at the age of 65, she always worried for the rampant corruption, poverty, and ongoing problems in India. She stated that there is a need to look after these affairs seriously and immediately.
Anil Mahajan who attended the dinner, said: It was nice to hear from Anna Hazare's team member Prashant Bhushan about anti corruption agitation. I admire their effort against corruption in a non-violence way. We should all support this movement.
A Word of Reflection
The issues discussed by Mr. Prashant Bhushan are of great interest to the NRI community. The people of Indian origin in diaspora look to the land of their birth and ancestors with great pride in its history and heritage, but also great concern for the rampant corruption, poverty, and ongoing problems in the states and on our borders. They are especially hopeful that the recent campaigns to end menacing corruption at many levels will be brought under check in the near future. This is an important India needs to give to its citizens and millions, including NRIs seeking further opportunities and investments in India and would greatly accelerate India’s emergence as a major super power in Asia. NRIs look to that prospect with great anticipation and becoming greater partners in realization of that dream.
About Prashant Bhushan
Mr. Prashant Bhushan is an advocate practicing in Delhi and is a social activist. He is the son of lawyer and former Law Minister of India Shanti Bhushan. He has been practicing in the Supreme Court since 1983 and he has worked on around 500 PILs. He is a strong supporter of a Clean Judiciary.
Mr. Prashant Bhushan, along with Arvind Kejriwal, is involved in the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement in India.
Father and son live in the same house in Noida. Both are outraged by the corruption among judges. He is an eminent Supreme Court lawyer and a tireless advocate for the rights of the disempowered. He is a relentless crusader for judicial accountability and for making India's higher judiciary more sensitive to the poor.
* Graduated in Arts and in Law from Allahabad University and Masters in Philosophy of Science from Princeton University, U.S.A.
* Specialization covers Public Interest Litigation particularly involving Human Rights, Environmental Issues, and Accountability of Public Servants.
* Mr. Prashant Bhushan has appeared in some of the most high profile cases, which include Narmada Bachao Andolan case, Bofors case, Contempt of Court case against Arundhati Roy, Enron case, Doon Valley Mining case, Right to Information case, Panna Mukta Oilfields case, Oil Companies Disinvestment case, Mauritius Double Taxation case, and the recent controversial case where candidates in elections were obligated to disclose their assets and criminal antecedents.
Mr. Prashant Bhushan is associated with many Organizations and Governing bodies, including The Committee of Judicial Accountability, The People's Union for Civil Liberties, The National Campaign for People's Right to Information, The National Alliance of People's Movement, Transparency International (India), The Centre for Public Interest Litigation.
There are many articles on legal and political issues to his credit. He is the author of two books:
* The Case That Shook India (About the case challenging the election of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, which led to the declaration of Emergency and the suspension of civil liberties in India in 1975).
* Bofors: The Selling of a Nation (About the Bofors Gun deal and its unraveling).
About: Uka and Nalini Solanki Lecture Series- The Solanki Lecture is an endowed lecture series established by Uka and Nalini Solanki, with the express intention of inviting a distinguished individual to discuss South Asia related topics.
PROFILE OF SPEAKERS:
- 2011: Prashant Bhushan- The ninth Solanki Lecture, featured on Corruption in India.
- 2010: Ramachandra Guha: The ninth Solanki Lecture: This year, a historian, one of India’s leading intellectuals, Padma Bhushan recipient, columnist for the leading newspapers and writer of 22 books- Ramachandra Guha was the featured speaker at the 9th annual Uka and Lalini Solanki Lecture at California State University, Long Beach, California
- 2009: Pico Iyer-Pico Iyer delivered the seventh annual Solanki lecture entitled Our Global Century and Its New Possibilities. Pico Iyer is one of the most revered and respected travel writers alive today and the author of nine books.
- 2008: SAEED AKHTAR MIRZA- Saeed Akhtar Mirza delivered the sixth annual Solanki lecture entitled Ammi: Letter to a Democratic Mother on Saturday, May 3, 2008. Mirza is a writer and director of Hindi films and television. He lives in Bombay and Goa.
- 2007:SUKETU, MEHTA- The fifth Solanki lecture is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, 2007. It will feature Suketu Mehta, acclaimed journalist and playwright. His book Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found was short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.
- 2006: SAM PITRODA-The fourth Solanki lecture, featured Sam Pitroda, currently chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission. Mr. Pitroda is also largely considered to have been responsible for India's communications revolution. The title of his talk was “India's Knowledge Society in the 21st Century: The CSU-Knowledge Commission Collaboration.”
- 2005: RICHARD GARNICK-The third Solanki Lecture featured Richard Garnick, CEO of WIPRO Technologies. This event was attended by 250 people. The title of his talk was “India, Outsourcing and Globalization.”
- 2004: SUNITI SOLOMON-The second Solanki Lecture, featured one of India’s most distinguished HIV/AIDS researchers, Dr. Suniti Solomon. This lecture was attended by 200 people.
- 2003: ARVIND PANAGARIYA- The inaugural Solanki Lecture, featured economist Arvind Panagariya, Bhagwati Professor of Economics at Columbia. He spoke on comparative development issues between China and India. The title of his talk was “Why India Lags Behind China and What To Do About It.”