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‘Can’t outsource good governance only to govt. Onus on citizens too,’ says Rohini Nilekani

New Delhi: Samaaj (society) is the foundational sector for which sarkaar (government), and bazaar (economy) were created to enable larger public interests, and all three must work together, said author and philanthropist Rohini Nilekani Friday.

Nilekani was in conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Senior Editor-Science Sandhya Ramesh, during a session of ‘Off The Cuff’.

She spoke about her new book, ‘Samaaj, Sarkaar, Bazaar: A Citizen-First Approach‘, the role of youth in politics, climate change and its impact, as well as gender inequality.

Nilekani said her book aims to promote public discourse on accountability of the state and the society. She also said that the youth should be involved in debates on India’s future because young people “being part of active citizenship” was important in a “democracy like ours”.

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‘You cannot outsource good governance’

Nilekani said youngsters, especially men, don’t feel empowered enough to take part in political debates and bring about larger changes in society. To counter that, she asserted, there was a need for public policy/policies and programmatic funding to help young people, to have institutions that build more social capital.

She also said there cannot be women’s empowerment unless men also feel empowered, to fill the gap so that both genders can reach their potential.

“You simply cannot outsource good governance only to the government, it’s important for citizens to co-create good governance. If we don’t participate, we lose ground,” she said, highlighting the need to get involved in solving local issues.

She further pointed out how the youth is increasingly asking more and more questions and getting involved in debates around climate change, education and wealth inequality.

Need for philanthropy

Nilekani said philanthropy will always exist and it is something that even ordinary people do, not just billionaires.

She also mentioned how samaaj, sarkaar and bazaar came together during the pandemic to provide resources, and that “it was the best example of quick integration”. She said societies tolerate wealth creation because they “assume that it will spur innovation, create jobs, and create better societies too”.

Nilekani said the pandemic proved that the country has “the best public infrastructure in the world”, where people are both empowered digitally and come together for mutual aid.

“There is a great human capacity for empathy and co-existence and to do that the moral leadership of the samaaj has to come up,” she added.

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Source: The Print

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