16th October 2023|Chennai Strengthening the endeavour to celebrate the collective progress and sociocultural richness of India’s Southern states, the first-ever edition of the ‘The Southern Rising’ Summit was launched today at Chennai.
Sharing the context and setting the overview of The Southern Rising Summit, Avinash Pandey, CEO, of ABP Network, said, “The South has already risen. It tells us that when Governance is dedicated to people to improve their health and education; it will be a success. The Southern states have the highest GDP and lowest population growth rates. The story of South is the story of the human spirit.”
Speaking on the role of the Governor, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan, Hon’ble Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, said, “The Governor is a bridge and a bridge not only to the central and state governments but also to the people. There should be a good relationship between the CM and Governor.”
In his keynote address, Udhayanidhi Stalin, Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development, Govt of Tamil Nadu, said, “A bigger conspiracy is being hatched to punish the Southern States for their good performance through the impending delimitation exercise of Lok Sabha Constituencies. In the 1970s, the Union Government promoted the population control program. The South Indian states implemented the program effectively. Their population growth rate slowed in comparison to states that did not implement the program well, whose population continued to grow at a higher rate. This effectively reduced the population share of the South Indian States. Today, this is being used against us. As you all would know, the Constitution mandates that each state must receive seats in proportion to its population, and constituencies should be of roughly equal size to the population.”
The event also witnessed the presence of renowned actor, Rana Daggubati, popular actress and director Revathy, and music composer, environmentalist and 3 times Grammy Award Winner Ricky Kej who shared their thoughts on a wide ranging issues during the Summit.
Speaking during a session titled ‘India on the World Stage: Rhythm Divine’, Ricky Kej, said,” When it comes to climate change, India is making significant strides. Concern in India on climate change is much larger than anywhere in the world.”
As the summit’s attendees hung on to every word, noted public intellectual, author, and commentator, Gurcharan Das’s session delivered an impassioned address on the pivotal role that freedom plays in shaping human progress. He eloquently stated, “A lot of people, like me, are in the middle of the political spectrum; and I am a liberal. Being a liberal, you are on a lonely road, as there’s no one to vote for.”
Amid the grandeur of Summit, an extraordinary musical journey unfolded in the form of “Making Music: Crafting A New Style.” Featuring the brilliant talents of Mahesh Raghvan and Nandini Shankar, two musical luminaries who have left an indelible mark on the world of music, this session enthralled the audience with its unique blend of tradition and innovation.
As the audience leaned in, P. Thiaga Rajan, Hon’ble Minister of Information Technology & Digital Services, Tamil Nadu, delved into the manifold benefits of federalism, remarked advocating for federalism in India stating, “The notion of democracy is that a thousand voices should be heard. We should try and figure out policies; if that doesn’t work, we should recalibrate and readjust.”
Compelling panel of political visionaries, who converged to explore the future of India in a session titled “Whose New India? Past, Imperfect, or Fast Forward.” The panel, featuring John Brittas, Narayanan Thirupathy, and M V Rajeev Gowda, delivered a mosaic of contrasting viewpoints.
John Brittas, a Member of Parliament (CPIM), said, “India is a multi-religious country and you can only have democracy when you have free and independent media. ” He further adds, “India has a rich history of welcoming all cultures and boasts a diverse heritage. South India is the home of reformists. With 18% of the population, we contribute 35% to the GDP.
Narayanan Thirupathy, Vice President of the BJP said, ” Many say BJP can’t have a foothold in Tamil Nadu. In the last 60 years, it is the BJP that has been growing in the state more than other parties. We have done very well; our booth committee is very strong. There is a big vacuum in the absence of Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi, and BJP will definitely fill the vacuum. Definitely, the BJP is going to form the government in 2026.”
Contributing to the discussion and presenting a unique angle M V Rajeev Gowda, Vice Chairperson, State Institute for Transformation of Karnataka and Ex-Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha (INC) said “We are experiencing a BJP-free South India. In Karnataka, we saw corruption. The contractors wrote letters to the PM complaining about corruption. We need to provide people with fair prices and a safety net. This is something Congress will continue in the country. The Nyay scheme is also a safety net for people. We are expected to win Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh in a spectacular way.”
Countering to that John added, “The BJP can maintain its optimism, as everyone has the right to dream of coming to power in Tamil Nadu in 2026.”
In the session, “Mahatma Forever: Why We Need Him Now,” Prof. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Governor of West Bengal clarified that Gandhi did not seek immortality or was not keen on being relevant.
“It was the people from the South India who propelled Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi in South Africa towards’ struggle for India’s dignity in South Africa.” Prof. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, said speaking about the South Indian connect with Gandhi. He outlined, “No South India in South Africa, no freedom struggle led by Gandhi in India”
In a world where social media exerts a profound influence, ABP Network’s ‘The Southern Rising’ Summit unfolded a captivating session, provocatively titled “Social Media: Playground or Business School?”
Speaking at the session, Chaithania Prakash, a digital content creator, shared her perspective, saying, “As influencers, we have a responsibility to ensure that nothing negative impacts our followers. We make sure the content we provide is of high quality to avoid any negative influence on our followers.”
Ardhra Sajan, another Digital Content Creator, spoke about her journey, stating, “Initially, we didn’t know what to do on social media. Our follower count gradually increased, which brought a sense of responsibility.”
Highlighting challenges, Deepika Venkatachalam, another noted digital content creator said, “Some influencers are promoting betting apps, which negatively affect people’s lives, and I find this distressing. Everything is becoming digital, and people are seeking shortcuts. We have a responsibility to follow laws and use hashtags for paid collaborations to make it clear to viewers that it is a promotional partnership.”
During the session, “Women in Politics: A Different Kind of Leader,” Ms. Jothimani Sennimalai’s, said, “To empower women in politics, there’s a need for fundamental changes in the party structure. At the party level, men are present in various positions starting from the local government to the district level. If such opportunities are given opportunities especially to women through that experience they can perform better even when they come to power”
In the session, “General Election 2024: Who Wins, Who Loses?” political heavy weights intensely debated on the upcoming elections.
K. Annamalai, State President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for Tamil Nadu, said, “BJP Tamil Nadu is an ambitious party, and we are determined to reach our goals. The upcoming 2024 elections are pivotal, with just seven months to go. BJP’s comeback in Tamil Nadu in 2024 will solidify our party’s position.”
To this, Kavitha Kalvakuntla, Member of Legislative Council (MLC) – Kamareddy & Nizamabad, Former Member of Parliament (MP), BRS Party countered, “People don’t want power-hungry parties. The people want a decisive Government. She further added, “We are neither with Congress nor BJP. I.N.D.I.A, the alliance will crumble. Post-poll alliances have historically worked, while pre-poll alliances have not. I believe every party will need to rethink their strategy.”
On being asked that India alliance may crumble, Karti P Chidambaram, Member of Parliament for Sivaganga (INC), “It is the Congress party which is present in all 5 southern states. The alliance will not crumble. In these 5 states, INC will perform exceptionally well.”
Speaking at the session, “Making New Myths – Recreating the Old”, Suhasini recalled how Maniratnam made the historic epic Ponniyin Selvan. “I asked him not to make this film. After the failure of some of the politic-historic films we make, I was uncertain, if this idea would work,” she revealed and further added, “The thing that worked for the success of PS, was the fact that the story of Ponniyin Selvan has been there in our culture. People loved it even before we made it.”
Speaking at the session, ‘Reinvention and Resurgence – Staying Alive in the Movies’, celebrated actress turned politician, Kushboo Sundar, shared a reflection from her personal life, “I slept like a log after coming out in open of being a victim of child sexual abuse. There’s nothing for me to be ashamed off.”
The Southern Rising Summit was conceptualized and instituted by ABP Network as a tribute to the exceptional growth, cultural opulence, and societal harmony exemplified by the southern states of India. It aimed to celebrate the spirit and richness of southern states, united on a singular mission of driving a transformative journey for India. The summit witnessed profound deliberations and sharing of insights by the movers and shakers of South Indian states and Union Territories.