College fests are not only getting bigger and better by the year but they’re taking up stronger causes as well. This year, St. Xaviers’ annual fest, Malhar, will see human rights activist and public health specialist Dr. Binayak Sen, who is currently out on bail, addressing students at Conclave, an event dedicated to free discussion, with eminent personalities.Confirms his wife Ilina Sen, “Dr. Sen has been to Xavier’s twice before and the college has supported us during the campaign for his release.We look forward to attending Conclave and actively contributing to it.”
Since his arrest in 2007 for supporting Naxalites in Chhatisgarh, the college has been espousing Sen’s cause by organising protest rallies against his arrest. It has even giving out the college premises for meetings to Sen’s organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties.“Dr Sen represents freedom of thought, an ideology that the youth relates to. We not only support, but also admire and appreciate his selfless work and hope that he creates a stir with his ideas and philosophy,” says Shivanee Agarwal, vice-chairperson, Malhar.
A few new events at the three-day fest that will be held between August 13-15 will also keep socially relevant issues high on the agenda. World Wide Wakening will test participating students’ calibre at using the Internet to their advantage. Each college contingent will be required to take up a social cause and create an awareness campaign around it. They will be judged on the number of hits they receive, content, mass appeal and overall impact.
At ChakaChak participants will compete for points they will receive for carrying out cleanliness drives at city beaches. Each college contingent will also be required to segregate collected waste, creating awareness about recycleable and non-recycleable wastes. College students will train street kids in the dance form of b-boying at another event, B-Boying Bole Toh. Says Agarwal, “Malhar is attended by thousands of students, so it the best platform to create awareness about social issues among the youth.”