‘Champion Human Dignity-Translate Fear into Hope’- a Unique Symposium at St Aloysius
Mangaluru: In the words of the students of St Aloysius College-Mangaluru, where they said, ” At St Aloysius Institutions, we are acknowledged for who we are and treated like we matter. Dignity and freedom of speech is at the heart of every interaction. Through classroom discussions, debates, seminars, conferences, exposure to various social issues we are made aware of how it feels like to be treated as inferior and discriminated. Differences and boundaries based on caste, creed, and religion are alien to us”. Yes, the students of SAC who wanted to be the change that they wish to see in the world, had organized a unique One-Day Symposium on “Champion Human Dignity: Translate Fear into Hope” on Wednesday, 14 March at L F Rasquinha Hall, SAC-Mangaluru.
Symposium like these keep the spirit of the vision and mission of St Aloysius Institutions-“To Shine To Enkindle” by empowering the students to question, instilling the courage to discuss issues relevant to the times and to translate their thoughts into actions. Dignity and Freedom are inmate worth of a human being which cannot be compromised. In recent years India has seen an exponential rise in naked violations of Human Dignity through Humiliation, Dehumanization, Objectification, and Social Exclusion.From manual scavenging, discrimination based on purity and notions of contamination, gender inequality, prejudice against LGBT, Intolerance of inter-caste and inter-religious marriages, languagism to sectarianism. A greater majority in India are experiencing unthinkable hardships.
Today’s Symposium aimed at evolving a National Perspective and local insight to build resilient people who can withstand crisis, help empower lives of the exploited and sustain intellectual growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. So why do we fear to embrace differences? Let us think beyond boundaries, commit to human values, challenge prejudices, build tolerance and For Once Feel with all those who have been victims of a violation of human dignity. Three renowned resource persons spoke during the symposium, namely: Kiruba Munusamy- a legal practitioner, Judicial activist, Human Rights Defender, Practicing Supreme Court Lawyer-New Delhi; Nakul Shawney- a Documentary Filmmaker, Director of “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai”; and Prakash Rai- Film Actor, Director, Producer, Social thinker and Activist.
Kiruba Munisamy who believes in ‘The Cultivation of Mind should be the ultimate aim of Human experience” spoke on the topic “The Scourge of Prejudice and Discrimination: My Journey. Nakul Shawney, who believes that ‘If one is born Mahavir Phogat; it is quite unlikely that one will die Justin Trudeau” spoke on the topic ” Countering Ideology Through Alternative Narratives”. And Prakash Rai, who believes that ‘People with different opinions should not be threatened”, spoke on “Just Asking”- a Movement for Personal Freedom of Choice”. As Slavok Zizek had said, “Thinking begins when you ask really difficult questions”, so after the talks, the students interacted with the three resource persons with a bunch of questions, which were answered in the right way in order to bring awareness on Human Dignity.
Prior to the Symposium a street play was enacted by the students of St Aloysius College. Rector of St Aloysius Institutions also spoke on the occasion. The three speakers were felicitated on the occasion. The vote of thanks was proposed by Dr Shalini Aiyappa-Dept of Sociology/Convenor of the Symposium, while the programme was compered by student Miss Olinda Fernandes, and Ms Jenice Goveas- dept of Chemistry. The organizing committee of the Symposium comprised of Fr Dionysius Vaz Sj-Rector; Fr Eric Mathias Sj- Director of St Aloysius Institute of Education (BEd) and Fr Dr Praveen Martis- Principal, St Aloysius College (Autonomous).
Let me conclude this report with a thought-provoking words from the poem by Martin Niemoller-it is about what happened when intellectuals failed to THINK and SPEAK :
“First they came for the socialists, I did not speak out, ’cause I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out, ’cause I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jew, I did not speak out, ‘Cause I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me”
The bottom line of these lines is “Let Us Think, Let Us Feel, Let Us ask, and Let Us Act”.