#ConvergeNow— Karan Sharma (@DarpokKiller) December 12, 2015
|Sofia Ashraf at Converge 2015|
Converge 2015, an event brought up by the Youth Ki Awaaz (YKA) and Unicef, saw discussions streaming amongst the youngsters on various themes and concerns. From giving goosebumps, to describing how important service to the community was – Converge 2015, will always be remembered for its diversity in reaching out to the youth of today and questioning the stereotypes prevailing in the society.
She termed this deed by her mother as the first education given to her by her own family. Another education which she said to have taken was from how, on the basis of religion people fight in India—having been closely affected by the Gujarat riots, she expressed that it happened at so many places on the basis of—RELIGION. Another lesson she received was of physical assaults, when one of her uncles harassed both her sister and her. The Indian Education System is funny she said, "Ratta Maar Aur Paas Ho Ja."
People in attendance got to introspect about themselves, and would keep thinking over the theme which Abhay discussed upon. His talk was moving, and would trigger discussions in future as well. While a lady stood up to say, that one should spend time with oneself when in depression, and one person said—there is a dire need of more counsellors in India, but the counselling fee is very high.
There is some stigma attached with the word Depression, that one can just sight Psychiatrists; and something parents feared from happening to their kid— but the parents would never give the freedom of communication to them, to share their griefs frankly, etc.
The next talk was by Akkai Padmashali, a proud Karnataka Rajyotsava Awardee—who is a transwoman made the audience a part of her cause through her words which really made sense in a Nation where equal rights and an identity crisis still remains. She explained her story, her journey to fight for herself, for who she was within, for her peace, when she did not let the laws and rules of societal standards break her—from the time when her family declined her, to the time when her father called her in tears when she won the second highest civilian award of Karnataka State. A wick, a flame, a hope, a fire—she is all of them—seen life closely through harassment, discrimination, wreck—she is a leader for those who do not have a voice. Towards the end of her powerful talk, she sang a song written, composed by her—that gave goosebumps, and no eye could drop but witness the power of her persona. Midway her talk, she started trending on Twitter in India in the top 10 ten trends. Her voice had made a difference, with people discussing, sharing her lines. Well, is it not how revolutions are framed and the way Youth Ki Awaaz perfects its stand on the issues it feels strongly about? It is, indeed. Some of the tweets sharing her opinions and thoughts can be found below:
"I demand through the platform of @YouthKiAwaaz that Section 377 should be repealed" - Akkai Padmashali #ConvergeNow— Manira Chaudhary (@ManiraChaudhary) December 12, 2015
"My gender is what I decide for myself, not what is imposed on me." Akkai Padmashali at #ConvergeNow *slow applause*— Shruti (@sacredeastwind) December 12, 2015
"We're always concerned about what the society thinks. When are we going to think about what we want" - Akkai Padmashali #ConvergeNow— UNICEF India (@UNICEFIndia) December 12, 2015
If u're a vegetarian, there is a problem, if u're asexual, its a problem, there is a problem with everything in our society-Akkai Padmashali— Ankita Mukhopadhyay (@muk_ankita) December 12, 2015
"People told me 'You are third gender'. I asked, 'Who is first gender?'" - Akkai Padmashali at #ConvergeNow— Youth Ki Awaaz (@YouthKiAwaaz) December 12, 2015
And now Akkai Padmashali trending at #ConvergeNow @YouthKiAwaaz @UNICEFIndia pic.twitter.com/jjM9mVGz5G— Anshul Tewari (@anshul_tewari) December 12, 2015
The next speakers after the lunch were Sikha and Piyal Mazumdar. Ms. Mazumdar is the Director of Salt Lake City Prayasam, an NGO which works in providing skills in necessary fields like effective communication, standing against issues of discrimination, bullying—eyeing towards creating a power shift in society, with creative methods including the smooth run of a technological sound framework of film-making setup, which also teaches the youth to work towards the social issues—and highlight them, through realistic views and originality in ideas and creativity! Sikha is an 18 year old girl who has been working for the past 9 years with the NGO, and is currently the Child Advisor to it. She works with kids in Kolkata who collect health data from the community, to help in rallying information to make vaccines accordingly. She was interviewed by Melinda Gates at TED-X Talks in Seattle and Ms. Gates in her blogpost titled "Impatient Optimists" included Sikha's name in the 8 women from around the world who inspired her in the year 2013.
Sikha in her talk referred to how she got inspired from the NGO, when she questioned herself—whether she was satisfied with her society? She believed in herself that she could bring about the much needed change in the society. Her father was a rickshaw puller when she was 9 years old, and did not stop her from following her heart, of serving the society. She said, "do not become the product of the society, instead make society your product." She expressed on how, she would keep working towards empowerment of the youth, and the service of the community is her only goal. There was a good round of applause for the young girl, who had wisdom in her words.
Now it was time to listen to the young entrepreneur, Ritesh Agarwal who is building up the biggest hotel chain of India, OYO Rooms. At 22, he has been working with a smart team—whose 3 members including himself are college drop-outs—he is proud of it, because of his experience of not being able to attend college due to boredom. He wanted to create something different, of his own; and he shared stories of how he led that tryst to come alive. But needless to say, it was a long struggle after failures could no longer fail his determination. At 16, he would travel to Delhi to attend startup events where usually the ticket would cost some $100 dollars. It was then that he found a catch, that the people who did not wear the badges, were allowed the entries as presumably they were the VIP's. So, he did not have to worry for tickets any longer. Those in attendance enjoyed his talk thoroughly, and he answered the questions asked for him, wholeheartedly. As a lady asked him if she could expect "women only" hotels in all cities in India, so that they could travel all over India "On Your (their) Own"? Ritesh at this point brought fore his witty nature; by saying, that is why OYO name came into existence. He expressed how proud he was of his team, as I already wrote in the beginning; Ritesh also said that he was building this business for next 35 years in his mind—even if one of two years came in between as low periods, those would not affect his confidence in it. He further added that his idea was taken up by 22 new startups, and still counting. He is undoubtedly a youth icon, and hopefully will take OYO to greater heights and make India proud, the path it is on already."It doesn't matter who your family is. You have the power to speak for yourself." - Sikha from @ngo_prayasam speaks at #ConvergeNow.— Youth Ki Awaaz (@YouthKiAwaaz) December 12, 2015
The last session of the day was a discussion with Film Director Kanu Behl and Abhay Kumar. Abhay this time came with his funny and not so serious outlook—he was cracking jokes, and the people loved that. Other than the light moments, the discussion was very much insightful, where they discussed about the limitations of Independent Film Making.
Kanu Behl's recent film "Titli", was released on 250 screens whereas the film which came a week later, a Salman Khan flick, "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo" was released at 5,000 screens. This came even after the Kanu's film being produced by the biggest production house in India, the Yash Raj Films. People asked Abhay on why he did not put his film, "Placebo" on Youtube or online platforms for good reach? To this he answered that, the life of a film reduces if it gets online. Otherwise it stretches long. Kanu gave tips about screen writing to the budding writers, he said, "go by what I like to write."
This is even felt with the screenplay of Titli where at a point in the film, there is no music which otherwise could have been used to signal the audience that a frightening scene was in the frame; but there was no music used, to leave it open to varied interpretations. Kanu said, he had thought of working on Titli in 2011 but he kept saying himself, "not yet, not yet" (that it was not the right time), but finally he succeeded.
It is important for a film-maker to realise why he/she decided to make films? "Why did I take this decision in my childhood? It was then, the reality hit me back and I realised that I had lost the plot; also some personal issues back home; but I had to find myself back." He said.
Converge 2015 concluded with this session, leaving the audience engrossed wanting for more. The speakers were really sweet to everyone who came up to them to have a chat after their talk got over. There were one to one sessions also, and the team of Youth Ki Awaaz took good care of everyone—bringing creative ideas of having frames with which people could pose and click pictures. I got a picture too with the Founder of YKA, who was proud of the event that his team had brought forward with him, and Unicef. He thanked the media partners including, www.quint.com! Also a chance to be a next speaker was given to every participant, who could fill the form with one's idea to bring about a social change— the form was called, TEST TUBE. Truly Converge 2015, came as a blessing to me; I look forward to Converge 2016.
The event cover was also published at the website of Youth Ki Awaaz. Follow this link, to read it, http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/12/testimonial-converge/
Read more about the event at, http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/12/converge-2015-post-event/
Gagandeep Singh Vaid