P M Bhargava Memorial Lecture on Science and Society: ‘Can Enlightenment prevent Auschwitz’?


Pushpa Mittra Bhargava (22 February 1928 – 1 August 2017) was an Indian scientist, writer, and administrator. He founded the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and was Chairperson of the Sambhavna Trust.

On 3rd August at Vidvarabya High School, Hyderabad the inaugural P M Bhargava Memorial Lecture on Science and Society, hosted by Manthan with the Sambhavna Trust, features Apoorvanand asking whether enlightenment through education can prevent genocide.

Apoorvanand is professor at the Hindi Department of University of Delhi. An avowed secularist, he also writes in English and is known for his frequent interventions in day-to-day politics, and for being a tireless champion of minority rights.

Manthan has been hosting talks by influential thinkers since 2005. With over 245 talks to date, Manthan is considered a leading platform for intelligent conversations in India. The Talks are free and open to all.

‘After the horror of Auschwitz, the question the children of enlightenment were faced with: how could it happen or be allowed to happen! Hitler was no freak, he was very much a product of his times and of Germany. Germany and Europe not only tolerated his genocidal drive but in many ways collaborated, aided and abetted him. He was a creation of his land. 

‘Could Auschwitz be repeated? Theodore Adorno puts the challenge before humanity very starkly by asking what needed to be done to not let Auschwitz occur again. Is it to be the task of politics alone? Thinking about the role of education, he said that the prime task of education was to ensure that Auschwitz was not repeated. Can education do it?

‘As history after Hitler has demonstrated, the genocidal project was not unique to him or Germany. In all cultures, such tendencies thrive under the skin and can dominate the society. We need to think about ways to identify and thwart them?’

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