4.1 Neelan Tiruchelvam and the Imagination of Southasian Constitutionalism

Session #4: Wednesday, 29 December, 9.00 - 10.45 am (Chanakya 1)

Panel coordinator(s): Arvind Narrain and Siddharth Narrain (*)

Chair/discussant: Sudhir Krishnaswamy (*)

Panel description

Panelists, paper titles, and abstracts

  1. R. Sudarshan, Constitutions as the Conscience of Nation-States
  2. Kanak Mani Dixit, *
  3. Sudhir Krishnaswamy, *

Panel description

Ten years have passed since the tragic assassination of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam by a LTTE suicide bomber in July of 1999. Dr. Tiruchelvam exemplified the best traditions of activist scholarship combining a political career as a member of parliament along with deep engagements with fields such as ethnic studies and constitutional law. Thus Dr. Tiruchelvam's engagement with Constitutionalism was forged in the crucible of the struggle for a Sri Lanka which was committed to an ethic which respected plural identities and plural ways of living.

This particular struggle of finding the right constitutional architecture which reflected the nobler aspirations of a society and working to get warring ethnic groups to accept such a framework was Dr Thiruchelvam's life's mission and tragically the very cause of his assassination.

This particular struggle for a just Constitutional order remains of deep salience in South Asian society. As a way of remembering and taking forward Dr Tiruchlevam's vision, this panel is dedicated to his luminous memory.

In this panel we engage closely with the promise, tragedy and lived history of Constitutionalisms in South Asia. Nepal in some ways exemplifies the perilous promise of a Constitutional future, Sri Lanka sadly shows the continuing tragedy of a state which refuses to accept a pluriverse sanctioned by the Constitution and India exemplifies the lived history of a certain form of Constitutionalism.

Exploring these three contexts of constitutionalism in South Asia will be the best tribute we can pay to an eminent South Asian thinker who ceaselessly strove to build a better world through his exemplary life of thought in action.

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Constitutions as the Conscience of Nation-States

R. Sudarshan (*)

*

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*

Kanak Mani Dixit (*)

*

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*

Sudhir Krishnaswamy (*)

*

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