The city of Pune is known for its intellectual tradition. Touted as the Oxford of the East and the cultural capital of Maharashtra, it boasts of a vibrant student community which is socially enlightened and politically active. The city is known for the abundance of the scholars and a healthy tradition of debates. A grand programme is taking place on coming Saturday, March 14, 2020 that takes this tradition further in 21st century. The Think India Pune chapter is hosting this once-in-a-long-time event that brings together a spectrum of thoughts and ideas. While the city is not new to these speakers, most of them have appeared on public forum separately and individually. It is perhaps the first time that these dignitaries will share the dais at one go. Moreover, the event is not limited to city specific issues but encompass a wide range of issues from national politics to socially taboo topics.
Titled Think India Pune National Conclave 2020, the one-day conclave will be divided into five different sessions. The galaxy of speakers include Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy; Director of the Indian School of Political Economy Dr. Abhay Tilak; Director of the Propells Consulting CS Ashutosh Muglikar; Senior research fellow of the Nuclear Security Programme (NSP), Delhi; author and columnist Abhijit Iyer Mitra; sexual minorities activist and journalist Ashok Row Kavi; professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, columnist and scientist Anand Ranganathan; psephologist, author and CEO of Jan Ki Baat Pradeep Bhandari; professor at Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce Dr. Deepak Powdel; board member of ILGA Asia Gopi Shankar Madurai and founder of Queer Hindu Alliance, lecturer and writer Ankit Bhuptani.
The tightly packed itinerary includes many hot and contemporary issues. While MP Dr. Swamy will speak on ‘CAA-NRC: Band-aiding the wounds of the Partition or Reopening them?’, there will be a panel discussion on ‘The need for having the LGBTQIA+’ conversation in the light of the Indic civilization, culture and religion’ in which Abhijit Iyer Mitra, Ashok Row Kavi, Giti Thadani, Gopi Shankar Madurai and Ankit Bhuptani will participate. The panel Discussion on ‘Can India become an Economic Superpower by 2030?’ will see participation of Dr. Abhay Tilak, CS Ashutosh Muglikar, Dr. Deepak Powdel and Mayur Garud. The panel Discussion with Dr. Anand Ranganathan will be held on ‘War and Peace in Indian Institutions: An Ideological Crusade’ which will look at the crucial issue of domination of academia by leftists.
The attempt is to add as much variety as possible and provide a holistic debate to all those who are in attendance. As Nachiket Gangakhedkar, one of the members of the organising team, said, “We have taken efforts to add speakers from as different thought streams as possible so that it does not became a one-sided affair. India has always been famous for the dialogue and debate. We have endeavored to bring that tradition on the platter in this conclave as well.”
How much the organisers have been successful in this effort can be gauged by the inclusion of Ashok Row Kavi and Ankit Bhuptani in the list of speakers. Both of them are vociferous advocates of rights of transgenders, queers and sexually exclusive class. These issues are always taken as antagonistic to the nationalist thoughts. However, these issues can also be amalgamated deftly and easily with the Hinduness or the Bharatiya thoughts. This will be demonstrated by these speakers and it may be a great realisation for the students and youths attending the conclave.
Think India is a national forum of students, alumni and faculty of premier institutes of national importance like the IITs, IISc, IIMs, the NLUs and other institutes across India spanning several academic disciplines. Think India is an initiative to bring the best talent from the finest institutions with the broader objective of generating ideas and views geared towards national rejuvenation. It also envisages inspiring young minds to take upon themselves their responsibility in the procewss of nation building. The speakers and audience add a unique value by their exposition on various national issues.
Therefore, the Think India Pune National Conclave 2020 also promises to be yet another melange of thoughts and a guiding light for the impressive minds.