UNESCO & Cardinal Paul Poupard Foundation
International Symposium 2019-2020
St. Andrew’s College, Bandra
The day started off lively as the speakers were welcomed and greeted by our Principal, Dr .Marie Fernandes. The speakers were escorted over to our principal’s office where they conversed with each other over tea and breakfast.
The lighting of the lamp by the Principal, the esteemed guests and the executive committee to mark the inauguration of the Symposium 2019-2020.
Our Masters of Ceremonies, Ayush Pandey and Alisha Lijo commenced the conference by giving an introduction to the theme for this year i.e ‘Celebrating diversities’.
To express the beauty of the world through the humble perspectives of the visually impaired we had an unconditionally melodic Choir Performance by Happy Home and School for the Blind. A truly unparalleled performance.
Our dynamic and humble principal Dr. Marie Fernandes warmly welcomed the wonderful speakers for the conference.
Mr Ashish Khetan, a lawyer, a journalist and a public policy expert was our Chief Guest for the event. Mr. Khetan as an individual possesses a list of accomplishments under his belt. With his expertise in public policy, he worked in the Delhi government. In addition to the aforementioned, he worked as an undercover journalist during the Gujarat riots in 2002. In fact he was amongst the writers trying to find the reason behind the riots in the place called Naroda Patiya where more than 100 people were burnt alive with their houses. He is also a practicing lawyer, and has supported “human rights”. He spoke about how he exposed a dozen of Anti-Terror Agencies which revealed that the state has been knowingly prosecuting innocent Muslims for terror cases and keeping the evidence of their innocence from the courts. Mr Khetan ended his speech with the ‘Horse-Stag and Hunters’ golden line.
‘“Diversity is a blessing to us and it should be celebrated in every possible manner”, the line by itself is a highlight of the event. Mr Phillippe Guillien had a humble beginning in his career as a teacher of English, he not only specialised in the French language but is also an advisor for “Lifelong education of science minister of National education”. For the conference Mr Guillien chose the topic ‘Citizenship and Identity’. He juxtaposed the different human organs and their functions to diversity. According to him we live in a universal mark by diversity ,as there are different animal species, different kinds of plants.Being French he spoke about the French constitution that, in 1958 France ensured the equality of all citizens irrespective of their origin. In addition, he spoke about how citizenship can be studied in different ways , ‘Civil point’, ‘Political point’ and ‘Social point’ for the individual right of people and the importance of education for a better future of the country.
The Folk Dance was an outstanding means to transition into the more glamorous and flamboyant aspect of our conference. It served its purpose as it brought joy to the audience.
The Keynote Speaker, Ms. Nandita Das spoke about the topic ‘Identity and the motion of the others’. Ms. Das is an actor and a director and has worked in ten different language movies. She herself has a different identity and says that identity is something that we all crave for, we all have it but we keep working on it to improve it for the best position. She also says identities are given to us from the day we are born and it comes first from our family. ‘Being a woman is an identity’, in this world there is no single identity to a single person and we let others define our identity on the basis of differences that we possess.
Dr. Avinash De Sousa is an experienced practitioner in the field of psychiatry. He commenced his speech by stating the restrictions on women in our society and how even in today’s world people find it taboo for women to talk openly about menstruation, which should be freely spoken about. He continued by explaining how mental health is treated nationally and internationally, he spoke about how some people believe that marriage is a cure for mental health. They say, “People can sort out mental health by themselves”, but they can’t. Mental health is a topic which people tend to avoid as they think it may affect their family background or their personal life.
Dr. Mithu Alur an educator, disability rights activist, researcher, writer and a published author on issues concerning people with disabilities in India, spoke about how celebrating diversity is related to her personal life and also about her daughter who was suffering from spastic issues since childhood. The spastic students have no special educational facilities and they have to get themselves educated. She put in all her efforts and went all the way to become a teacher in the field of spastic education and opened a school where students with disabilities can be specially educated, counselled, given speech therapy so that they can be part of the society, equally and comfortably.
Mr. Anthony D’souza, being a Board Member, Ex.Chairman of the Citizen Credit Co-operative Bank, graced us with his company as a representative of the Citizen Bank and spoke in high praise of how St.Andrew’s College has been progressive in taking initiatives to raise a generation of youth that is not merely educated but also knows how to appreciate the diverse cultures that exist in our society today.
Moving ahead we had another beautiful musical performance by two of our students which brought pleasure to our ears and a rhythm to our hearts.
The committee went on the stage to address the event. Our very own student Ms. Ronica Sequeira was then given the privilege to come up on stage and address the Vote of Thanks which was followed by everyone rising together for the National Anthem.