You know it’s a special day when on a friday afternoon the IC-NLH area is 10 times less packed and the cafetaria gate of AB 1 is shut. Of course it was special. It’s not everyday that a prominent leader of the country visits MIT to give a talk.
I am not a great fan of Dr. Shashi Tharoor. Of course, he is the person I respect the most from the party he represents. But apart from the Oxford speech there isn’t much from his life that I know of to really admire him. This could have been an article to give you an insight of his life and go through all the details from the talk. But the two wonderful media bodies of our college would already be doing it. Instead, just as a pure spectator, let me break down for you on what are the things that I found interesting.
It began with the customary address from the dignitaries present other than the Man of the Hour. And as the welcomes, introductions and briefs were being given, we could see Dr. Tharoor himself was busy in writing something . I am quite sure it amused many at the audience, or perhaps even the dignitaries themselves!
As he took the stage, everyone’s amusement was put to rest. In the middle of his already-written speech, he inserted that the next time, he would prefer books instead of bouqet as a welcome. “Why to have dead flowers welcome me?”. Narayana Sabahit, our Registrar`, earlier had presented him with flowers as a token of welcome. “Okay, so that was what he was doing all the while.” I said to myself.
And that is what actually made the talk interesting. Of course, the great orator that he is, he had a great grasp with his words and the language. And though he did address the topic in question (innovation), there were instances where I felt that I have heard of it before. Being a writer himself, he had written it all and referred his notes most of the times during the speech. The real fun was in hearing the spontaneous ones. Like in another memorable moment, it was 3:30 PM and he was in the middle of saying something about young kids. Bam goes our all-famous siren.
“I think it’s a warning bell for the rest of the world. For me also, because I am ageing.” And as the siren mellowed down slowly, “And that’s how the warning goes down too”. His charm and presence was on full display at that moment as the crowd rose to a bigger applause.
Half of the crowd (including me) were patiently hearing him to see if he takes a chance to speak about the current government. He mentioned about demonitization twice, stating that the economy was taking a hit. There was a Modi reference during the interaction session too, but he didn’t say anything that would make us wide-eyed. It’s quite admirable for a big politician like him didn’t try to bring politics into the talk and spoke only about how our generation can help build a better, stronger India. And that complemented his idea of politics that he mentioned during the session.
“Why did you join politics?” he was asked, to which he replied, ” It is hard to answer that because the question is right.” That’s the only part of Q&A that I liked. Perhaps it would have been better if it were left for the students themselves to hear out more interesting questions.
Ending his speech “in a cliched way” (his own words), he quoted Mahatma Gandhi (Thankfully, the only Gandhi he talked about). After the speech, we were reminded that Dr. Tharoor is not here for no reason after all.
INK’s TEENOVATORS participants came up on stage to recieve a token of appreciation ( as the majority of the crowd were making their mind to leave the venue). In some cases, it wasn’t the student participants who were standing besides him but their teacher accompanying them. It could have been the student’s biggest moment in their lives, and I feel it should have been them sharing the token for the picture. By the way, I don’t know why there isn’t much excitement around for TEENOVATORS! It’s just our Tech Tatva’s VEDANTH on a bigger platform, for school kids.
All in all, it is good to have speeches like these where we are reminded of how privileged we are to get an education we deserve. And when the time comes, we have to step up and make our society a better place to live in.
P.S: The quotes mentioned here are not the exact words. But the gist of it is the same.