Saarang the annual festival at IIT Madras brings with it a riot of colours of every flavour in every conceivable field - be it arts, music, theatre or dance, to thrill all who become part of this phenomenon. It provides a platform for people to come together, a chance for their ideas to merge, a place for exchange of ideas and emotions, resulting in a confluence so magical that the experience is hard to put into words.
As a pre-cursor to the more than 60 events to be held over a period of 5 days for Saarang 2011, a Pre-Saarang invitation lecture was held today at Student Activity Centre, which hosted none other than honourable Member of Parliament, Dr. Shashi Tharoor.
Dr. Tharoor shared with the students his experiences as a student at St. Stephen’s and later at Tufts University, took them on a quick journey through his early career with the United Nations, and told them about the new role he has donned. He conveyed to the eager young crowd how “sometimes circumstances decide what occurs to your mind, what you do”. He touched a chord with them when he brought out how they could make a difference through their actions and decide on what to do in their lives by the strength of their own convictions.
His stint with the UN High Commission for Refugees was instrumental in his decision to continue with the organization. He related touching stories about refugees from different parts of the world that made all the effort seems worthwhile and very rewarding indeed. Dr. Tharoor was kind enough to field a variety of questions from the students. Questions, which ranged from how he handled a conflict of identity as a gifted writer and as a public figure, to those on the issue of having the system of primaries to improve intra party democracy. He also answered queries regarding his views on WIkiLeaks, relevance of the UN today and India’s stand on Iran’s nuclear program.
Most entertaining were the prolific writer’s exposition on his experience with using social media. References were made to various instances in the past year or two, when the media was increasingly focusing on what Dr. Tharoor had to say and do. Regarding social media, in a lighter vein Dr. Tharoor clarified that his wife (who was among the audience) was not on either Twitter or Facebook and if anyone was following her profile on these sites, it was probably an impostor.
The witty politician exhorted the students to join youth politics and other public forums where they could air their views. He said grassroots experience would enable them to manage the country they would inherit in the coming years. He closed by sending a message to the young people that they cannot fear to do the small acts in fear of failing in bigger endeavours. Calling everyone to be fearless in realizing their dreams, Dr. Tharoor admitted that he’s failed many times but he does not regret the learnings he’s gained from them. He said, after all it is “in trying, that you discover your worth.”
Class of 2011.