It is to Converge 2016’s credit that it provided a stage for discussing a plethora of topics that needed healthy, unbiased conversations. And the topics ranged from the heteronormative stereotypical gender division prevalent even in the country’s respectable universities to the role humour can play in educating masses on social issues.
Converge 2016 stuck to it’s tagline – For Those Who Give a Damn! And by giving a damn they meant going out there and taking steps that’ll help solve a problem the world at large is facing. Like Ritumoni Das of Kat-Katha, aptly put, to make society more inclusive and welcoming for the sex workers at GB Road and for sex workers in general one does not need to sympathise with them through eloquent words on social media. Rather it would be great if one took time out of their schedules to visit GB Road and actually talk to them and hear out their stories. That is exactly what she does through her foundation, Kat Katha and she expects the help and support from one and all in her effort to neutralize the opinion society has of sex workers and their children.
Every speaker in his or her own way urged the listeners to be harbingers of change rather than sitting and waiting for things to happen. Sabika Naqvi from Pinjra Tod made use of poetry and simple metaphors to bring forth her point struck a cord with us it did with most of the audience. She explained how society works for women in India using the metaphor of a pinjra or multiple pinjras and one can only fight and break out of one to find themselves entrapped in a larger one. Not only did the imagery resonate in our minds for a long while, we also witnessed, after a very long time an entire crowd of about 500 people ardently listening to the speaker on stage and also engaging and interacting with her through prompt responses.
While she used an emotional approach to drive home her point, Tanmay Bhat did it in his own humourous way. Since ancient Greek civilization we have been told while tragedy is an inward reflection of an individual, to create a mirror for society we need humour. And that is exactly what Tanmay said. While most the things that he mentioned in his talk weren’t new or unheard of, there wasn’t anything in his speech that we wouldn’t agree to. And at a time, when every event is greeted with an overload of venom spewing on the internet, his idea of using humour to educate people and dissipate the cumulative anger seems the most logical one. And if you need some inspiration on how its done you can always look up AIB’s videos for inspiration.
If we had to sum up the message of the entire event in a sentence it would be this – In order to break stereotypes, we need to initiate unbiased conversations. And as M Suman rightly pointed out in her speech, the only to end stereotyping is by talking to people and discovering for yourself that the notions you have of them were never real in the first place.
All images have been sourced from Youth Ki Awaaz’s Facebook page.
P.S. We would also like to mention that we loved the diary that we received at the entrance.