Caucus, the group discussion forum at Hindu College organized Vaktavya – the 6th annual group discussion festival on 25-26th March. The festival was scheduled to have bilingual group discussions and baithaks.
“Banning the burqua: Can women’s rights trump religion”
For Day 1, “Banning the burqua: Can women’s rights trump religion” was the discussed topic for conventional group discussion (GD). Discussion was moderated by Caucus members. Arushi Walecha was the Chairperson for the discussion and Pratishtha Mahajan sat as the Rapporteur. Each participant during the discussion was allowed to present his or her views and each opinion was recorded with the moderators. Mohammed Ziyad Ansari, a participant in the course of discussion remarked, “Islamic religious books not only talk about hijab (burqua) for women but for men as well. The purpose of hijab is not only covering one’s self, but also to show respect, lower the case and guard modesty.”
After 60 minutes of bilingual discussion, moderation and recording of views, the group came out with a common solution which mentioned that whether burqua or not, depends on the individuals choice. Ziyad also added that, “It should be the woman who should choose. We should keep in mind that Quran doesn’t impose burqua on anyone, it presents a choice.” The group also felt that, in the west there are many predetermined notions about these women who wear burquas. So someone who hasn’t experienced it or someone who doesn’t have full knowledge of the same has no right to condemn this system. Raja was adjudged the winner for this round of discussion.
“Is secularism irrelevant in the current Indian political context?”
Baithak at Vaktavya conducted a discussed on, “Is secularism irrelevant in the current Indian political context?” Baithak is an open discussion where no one moderates the discussion. Instead, a peer evaluation system is followed where the whole group evaluates other speakers and a best speaker is declared. This was also a bilingual discussion on what secularism is defined and understood as. The group also discussed about whether secularism as an issue is relevant in political discourse.
Baithak that was conducted for over one hour came out with the conclusion that despite the current political emphasis on development and economics, secularism still remains an agenda. Sandeep Singh, a baithak participant mentions, “Secularism stands on a proposition that religion and government state should be separated. But this agenda of secularism influences our perception of the political parties and candidates participating in the elections.” Sandeep was also declared the winner of this baithak session by his co-participants.
“Should schools teach – virginity is not a virtue”
On the second day, baithak‘s discussion revolved around the topic – “Should schools teach – virginity is not a virtue.” After 70 minute exercise of presenting their views, the group unanimously decided that virginity should be based on individuals perception and not as a universal virtue. Aishwarya Puri, the winner of this baithak round mentions, “Virginity should not be taught in schools, because when virginity is associated with a term like virtue, it becomes subjective.” A few members of the group also presented their opinions on why this subject of virginity should be a part of school teachings.
“Realism v/s Escapism : Does cinema need a purpose”
The last discussion at the festival had Nimisha Kawatra and Nishtia Khattar moderating the discussion as Chairperson and Rapporteur respectively. The topic, “Realism v/s Escapism : Does cinema need a purpose” had mixed views coming in from the participants. According to the members of the group, cinema works both ways. On one hand, it is a chute to propel one into another world for two hours and on the other, it can ground someone more firmly into the reality and enable him or her to see past the illusions of the society. Sandeep, who also bagged the first prize at baithak of secularism, was declared the winner for this discussion as well.
Vaktavya came to an end with screening of a short film called The Naturalist by Connor Hurley for all the Caucus members.