Living up to IIMB’s ethos of building socially responsible leaders, EPGP celebrated the annual day of its social initiative Prayaas on Sunday, 5th February. This year’s theme of ‘Social inclusion’ resonated all over the campus with inspiring slogans: ‘Together we can’ and ‘Be the change.’ Today’s event is yet another successful milestone in the journey that began with the inception of Prayaas in 2009.
About 31 transgenders from Payana, an NGO for sexual minorities and 46 children from Surabhi, an orphanage for destitute children, joined the IIMB community today to stand together and celebrate the essence of humanity with a powerful message of social inclusion. Delivering the inaugural speech, Prof. Dinesh Kumar, Chairperson EPGP, lauded the students’ efforts and hoped that the event will instill a sense of confidence in the attendees. Ms. Jyothi Rao of Kathaalaya entertained the audience with her masterful storytelling; her interactive narration of ‘Chrysanthemum’ and ‘Pony Tail’ not only captivated the crowd but also, subtly but surely, delivered the message of challenging what is ‘socially acceptable’ and standing up to bullying.
Mr. Nagaraja Prakasam from NSRCEL, the start-up incubator at IIMB, informed the audience of some social enterprises mentored by the Institute and encouraged all to seek solutions to the everyday problems in our society. Mr. Abee Daniel, founder Rural Shores, spoke of his calling to work on social causes after quitting a successful corporate career. Screening of the short film ‘That’s my boy’ highlighted the various challenges faced by transgenders in India, through the inspirational journey of Sonu, who was born Sonia.
Following the lunch over which all the attendees got to socialize and interact with each other, group activities brought forth the collective talent from EPGP students, children and transgenders. All the participants, divided into ten groups, showcased posters, skits, and paintings – each with a socially relevant message. The audience cheered the many talents with thunderous claps and appreciated the ideas put forward.
Speaking about social inclusion, Mr. Prakash Belawadi, eminent theater and film personality, highlighted the need for change in policy-making and social attitudes towards the underprivileged sections. When one Ms. Saroja described how, despite being an accomplished student—winning several awards from the Government of Tamil Nadu— she was driven out of her home and resorted to begging for being transgender, it was a heart-wrenching moment for everyone. It is indeed a reflection of our collective failure as a society to provide an appropriate platform for the often misunderstood, marginalized and vulnerable members of the transgender community to succeed and live up to their fullest potential.
The event culminated with a fun-filled group dance that witnessed everyone discovering the inner-child and joining the kids to shake a leg. Children, students, and transgenders joined to put a splendid dance performance for popular film and patriotic songs. All the guests to IIMB were presented with a memorable memento, crafted by Diya Foundation—an organization providing vocational training and livelihood for the intellectually challenged.
In summary, the well-orchestrated Prayaas day couldn’t have chosen a better theme for this year. As intolerance is on the rise world over, and leaders of the developed world are busy building walls or shunning refugees, IIMB’s EPGP drove home the message of social inclusion loud and clear: sustainable communities must be inclusive, where even the weak and the vulnerable feel empowered members of the society regardless of their background, birth, religion, gender identity or gender expression. Is the world listening?
Pavan Swaroop Rapaka