iconimg Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sucharita Kanjilal, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, August 14, 2011
Introduced as the ‘man who stands up for everything that Xavierites believe in’, human rights activist Binayak Sen on Saturday captivated 300 students and professionals with his speech at Malhar, the annual festival of St Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao.

“I am proud to say that I was convicted under the same law that Mahatma Gandhi was during the British rule. It is ironic that the British who made the law have now repealed it in their own country, but the same sedition laws continue to exist in ours,” said Sen in his keynote address at the Conclave — an event meant to inspire and provoke young minds into tackling socio-economic issues.

The 40-minute speech was followed by a discussion where Sen tackled questions on violence, the media and life in prison among others.

“There is no access to justice for the poor in our country. For us to truly move forward, we must start eradicating the inequality we are surrounded by,” he added.

The audience, which comprised of students from various city colleges, also had academicians and professors who were impressed by the quality of Sen’s speech.

“I hope that students can use such an experience to find out about issues that affect our country,” said Nandini Sardesai, former head of department of Sociology at St. Xavier’s college.

The Conclave also held three forums and a town hall session on subjects such as ‘corruption’ and ‘culture and identity’, attended by Aruna Roy, Anupam Kher and Nandita Das.

Praising festivals for providing an unstructured learning environment, theatre personality Alyque Padamsee, who was present as one of the speakers said, “Malhar gives young people a chance to interact with people from different cultures, arts and professions.”