With the theme “Bridges not Boundaries”, Shri Ram College of Commerce held the sixth edition of the annual Youth Conference on the 22nd and 23rd of September 2017. The two-day event saw a confluence of distinguished personalities from the fields of politics, cinema, music, and comedy.
Day 1 kicked off with a with a lamp lighting ceremony by the Guest of Honour, General V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs. In her brief address, Professor Simrit Kaur, Principal of Shri Ram College of Commerce, thanked the sponsors, attendees, and speakers for participating in the conference and hoped for the enriching two-day extravaganza. General V.K. Singh spoke candidly about his early days in the army, power of entrepreneurship, and his transition from military to politics. “Confidence between the men and the officer wins wars. Be it an insurgency operation or a full-front war, the moment your team loses trust in each other, that moment you lose,” he said, asserting the need for teamwork. When asked about the difference between working in the army versus working in politics, he answered, “In the army you know who the enemy is, but in politics you don’t.”
The second speaker of the day was former Miss India, social activist, entrepreneur, and actress, Gul Panag. In a highly interactive session, she shared stories about her modeling career, education, aviation dreams, and her tryst with public speaking that started in Patiyala Government College and remains till date. She also invited a fan, who was named Gul after her, on the stage.
The second half of the day resumed with the coming of Aranya Johar, a Mumbai-based poet who recently came to limelight with her poems such as “A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty” and “A Brown Girl’s Guide to Discrimination”. She highlighted the misconceptions people have regarding feminism. She explained that feminism is not only about women but is also for men who are suppressed by the patriarchal conventions of the society. She also recited the aforementioned poems to the audience before ending her speech.
The ebullient crowd finally witnessed the much awaited speaker Usha Uthup. The legendary singer was humorous as ever from the minute she got onto the stage. She talked about her personal life, reminiscing her childhood days. It was only a matter of time before she started singing, bringing the auditorium to life. The crowd erupted in applause as she sang one song after the other. From “Skyfall” to “Kolaveri Di”, claps and cheers were all that could be heard inside the hall. Gurcharan Das, author, public intellect, and former CEO of Procter & Gamble, happened to arrive while Usha Uthup was still performing. He talked about how to find one’s passion and also shared a story addressing that the right attitude is essential for organisational success. He quoted “We learn how to make a living. We must know how to make a life.”
The day ended in disappointment after Mohit Chauhan did not arrive even after a long wait of more than two hours. To make do for his absence, a singing competition was organised, followed by performances by individuals and the music society of the college. It was later announced that Mohit Chauhan would come the next day instead. Delhi’s rains could not deter students of various colleges from turning up at SRCC Youth Conference’s second day. The auditorium was bustling with energy of the students. The first speaker, Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Aviation arrived in the auditorium with the Principal of the college, Simrat Kaur. He was felicitated and then rose to address the audience. He emphasised that the students of today are the leaders of change for the future. He said that the three complicated problems that these world leaders will have to solve are – global warming, shortage of natural resources, and urbanisation in a way that quality of life is ensured in all cities and villages. During the question-answer round, he descended from the stage to talk to the students one-on-one. He enthusiastically answered all the questions and even quoted John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country has done for you but what you can do for your country.” He wants Indians to work for their own country rather than other countries where they go to study and settle down. He ended by teaching the students to dream big and think global.
#Live | “No other country has the talent, natural resources and frugal development that we have and it all depends on you now. Dream big and think Global” Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation who is himself a graduate from Harvard University opens the second day at #SRCCYouthConference2017. Photography by @hemantgoyall for DU Beat A post shared by DU Beat (@du_beat) on
Rega Jha, the Editor-in-Chief of BuzzFeed India, arrived at the venue clad in a bright yellow jumpsuit exuding energy. She started her speech by asking the audience if anybody had said anything really dumb on the Internet and to everyone’s surprise, the entire audience had done that. She narrated her own instances from the past of being trolled. While laughing, she commented that our generation has said the dumbest things on the Internet in history. She talked about Mira Rajput being trolled for her motherhood statement and none of the people trying to teach her in a courteous manner, and how the new song ‘Bol Na Aunty Aau Kya’ is immensely sexist, validates rape culture, and is simply obnoxious. People have gotten into the habit of calling out people online for something they had said ages ago. While interacting with the students, she said that nobody should be called a ‘Nazi’ in reference to terms like ‘grammar-nazi’ or femi-nazis’. Before leaving, she taught everyone that one should be accepting of people changing and evolving because people’s perspectives change every day. She also stated that we shouldn’t make fun of people with weak English.
The next speaker was the most awaited guest, Mohit Chauhan. He was welcomed into the auditorium with claps and hoots by the students. He started his speech by saying that he didn’t think much of himself as a speaker and that speaking gives him jitters. He introduced the audience to his childhood living in Dharamshala, Kullu and such hill stations, how music took over his soul from a young age and how he would camp alone in the hills for peace and creativity. He told the youngsters that he chose science stream as he was a fine student and he went on to study B.Sc. and M.Sc. hoping to get a decent job hailing from a family of bureaucrats but deep down he wanted to make something of his own. He talked about meeting A.R. Rahman in November, 1998 in Delhi, hoping to work in Bombay soon but actually got a call to sing for the movie Rang De Basanti after 6 long years. His quote that touched the students was, “You don’t realise you are working hard when you are working with passion”. The audience roared when he finally picked up the guitar to sing ‘Dooba Dooba Rehta Hu’ and ‘Tumse Hi’ of Jab We Met while the students sang along. After the students’ chant of ‘Sadda Haq’, Mohit Chauhan relented and sang it for the eager audience at the end of which the auditorium reverberated with the thunderous claps and the singer left behind a chirpy audience.
The last speaker before the lunch break was Bimal Jalan, who has been in the advisory committee of the government, been the Chief Economic Advisor, and the Governor of RBI twice. In his speech, he talked about the cyclical movement of the economy, India’s literacy rate, incentives, the complex system of administration, rural development, UPSC’s selection criteria of candidates, India’s economy, and poverty. He jokingly mentioned in the answer to a question that he wouldn’t have approved of demonetisation but what could one do after the government had announced it, except simply follow it. Before leaving he said that a reform that this generation has to do is make better roads in Delhi as he was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half. The students then proceeded to lunch.
The second session of the Youth Conference resumed around 2:30pm. The energy of the audience was still pumped up to the zenith level of their enthusiasm to welcome the subsequent speakers. The session kicked off with Rajeev Shukla, Chairman of IPL and a journalist. “There can be personal differences but there is no space for personal rivalry in politics,” he said. He talked about his career in journalism and narrated how he grew close to politics and the Indian National Congress. He advised the students to try different things in life and take rational decisions. The next speaker in the pipeline was Sudhir Mishra, an Indian film director and screenwriter known for directing critically acclaimed movies like Hazaro Khwaish Aisi, Dharvi, and Chameli. He is a graduate of the University of Delhi and has three national award under his belt. The session with him was extremely humorous and entertaining. He urged the people to pursue what they love.
Karan Thapar, the next speaker, said, “When you look at me, don’t look at my religion. I am an individual first. If you see me as a member of a religion, you see a blur. But that’s not me. That’s not my identity. I am me because I have an individuality.” He was very concerned about the rising intolerance in the country and addressed the audience with very balanced views which pushed the students into contemplation. An engineering drop out, singer, and composer, Siddharth Slathia who is well known for singing the cover version of ‘Tum Hi Ho’ staged an enchanting performance at the SRCC Youth Conference. Talking about his career he said, “You may not be the most talented person but you can be the most hardworking person”. He took the audience back to the retro times and the crowd swayed to his melodious voice and rocking songs.
The pumped up crowd finally witnessed the much awaited performance of Zakir Khan. The walls of the auditorium reverberated with the chants of ‘Zakir Zakir’ when he entered. The audience got on the top of their enthusiasm when he started delivering his signature jokes which gave a perfect closure to the conference.
SRCC Youth Conference 2017 was a full-on extravaganza that left its audience stunned!
Image Credits: Sahil Chauhan, Hemant Goyal, and P.V. Purnima for DU Beat