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Justice KT Desai Memorial Lecture 2009: Lord Bhikhu Parekh-The Constitution and Challenges to India’s Unity

Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Westminster, UK will deliver the 2009 Justice KT Desai Memorial Lecture on The Constitution and Challenges to India’s Unity.

The lecture will held Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 5:30 pm in the Central Court Room No 46, 2nd Floor, High Court, Bombay.

The Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar will preside, and will deliver the Presidential Address.

Mr Rohit Kapadia, President of the Bombay Bar Association will provide the introductory remarks; Mrs Justice Sujata Manohar, former judge of the Supreme Court, will give a welcome address and Mr Ashok Mundargi, President of the Advocates’ Association of Western India, will propose a vote of thanks.

Justice Bhiku Parekh

Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Baron Parekh of Kingston-upon-Hull

Born in 1935 in Amalsad, Gujarat, Lord Bhikhu Parekh was admitted to the University of Bombay at the age of 15. Educated at the Universities of Bombay and London, Lord Parekh (born 1935) is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Academy of the Learned Societies for Social Sciences, and a Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Westminster. Lord Parekh was chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (1998-2000), whose report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, was published in 2000. He is vice-chairman of the Gandhi Foundation, a trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust, and a member of the National Commission on Equal Opportunity.

His main academic interests include political philosophy, the history of political thought, social theory, ancient and modern Indian political thought, and the philosophy of ethnic relations.

Professor Parekh is the author of, among other books, Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory (2000); Gandhi (2001); Colonialism, Tradition and Reform (1999); Gandhi's Political Philosophy (1989); Contemporary Political Thinkers (1982); Karl Marx's Theory of Ideology (1981); and Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy (1981), and, most recently, A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World (2008).

He also wrote an account of “The Rushdie Affair and the British Press; Some Salutary Lessons” for the Commission for Racial Equality in 1990.

Lord Parekh has received many awards throughout his career: the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for lifetime contribution to political philosophy by the Political Studies Association (2002); the Distinguished Global Thinker Award by the India International Centre Delhi (2006); BBC’s Special Lifetime Achievement Award; the Independence Prize from the Campaign for Democracy (New York, 2006); the Pravasi Bharartiya Samman, and the Padma Bhushan in 2007. He holds twelves honorary doctorates. In 2007, he delivered the annual lecture of the UK Gandhi Foundation, of which he is Patron.

Lord Parekh was until recently Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and is currently Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Westminster. He has been a Visiting Professor at several universities including McGill, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Barcelona, Paris and Vienna. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Baroda from 1981-1984. He was appointed a life peer in 2000 as Baron Parekh of Kingston upon Hull in East Riding, Yorkshire.

Justice K.T. Desai

Justice KT Desai

Born in May 1903 and educated in Bombay, Justice KT Desai passed the Articled Clerks’ examination of the Bombay High Court in 1928. He was enrolled as Advocate on the Original Side of the Bombay High Court in 1930.

Justice KT Desai soon had a large and flourishing Original Side practice at the Bar. Widely acknowledged as a brilliant lawyer in various areas of specialization, he achieved particularly great renown in commercial law. His acute forensic skills and capacity for great industry soon made him one of the foremost lawyers of the Bombay High Court.

In 1957, Justice KT Desai was appointed to the Bench of the Bombay High Court. On the creation of the State of Gujarat in May 1960, Justice KT Desai was appointed a Judge of the Gujarat High Court. Later, the Government of India appointed him President of the National Bank Tribunal. Justice KT Desai was appointed Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court of January 26, 1961.

Justice Desai’s ability to unravel quickly and accurately the complexities of the case before him and his unfailing courtesy earned him the respect of the Bar, while his lively sense of self-deprecating humour earned him the Bar’s affection. At a Bar dinner to felicitate him, he once famously revealed that he was acutely conscious of his duties and, particularly, the maxim that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done—he therefore insisted that on a cushion being placed on his seat.

Fortunately, this remained in jest: for, as Justice KT Desai showed, the stature of a man—and perhaps particularly a judge—is unrelated to his physical attributes.