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Snapshots of YIF guest sessions

The beginning of the academic year for Young India Fellows had a series of guest lectures from speakers across domains. A glance at two of these.

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1 December, 2015 | 5 Mins read

The strings behind war

When we discuss the wars of modern India, Pakistan is the commonly invoked antagonist. After all, the two countries have fought three ferocious wars. However, the war that is not as commonly discussed is one that almost led to the loss of India’s Northeast; the 1962 war with China.

Dr. Rudra Chaudhuri’s guest session, titled “Why ideas matter – A short history of 1962”, was illuminating, not only because he shed light on the little known details of the war but also because he connected it with the broader ideas of international relations.

Dr. Chaudhuri, a senior lecturer at King’s College London, is a diplomatic historian whose book Forged in Crisis. India and the United States since 1947 delved into Indo-American ties through the decades.

In his meticulous presentation, Dr. Chaudhuri explained how the breakdown in diplomacy led to the war that further led to the Chinese annexation of parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The lecture shed light on an important, if neglected, part of war history – the political maneuvering that happens behind the scenes. Dr. Chadhuri spoke about how one of Jawaharlal Nehru’s letters beseeched American President Kennedy for military support and in the process revealed how the lionised former P.M. broke with his political ideology of non-alignment.

At the end of his session, Dr. Chaudhuri enthusiastically took on the avalanche of questions posed by YIF students and infused the proceedings with his laidback style and humour. When one student asked him about the Chinese coming in all the way to Kolkata, he quipped “I wouldn’t have minded if Calcutta had gone!”

(Karthik Shankar, Young India Fellow, Class of 2016)

Breaking ice the Bollywood way

A workshop conducted by Asif Basra was the literal ice-breaker for Young India Fellows, Class of 2016, as he was one of the early guest speakers for this academic year.

Basra is an Indian film, television and theatre artist most popular for his role in the movie, The Outsourced. He has also been a part of successful theatre performances – Mahatma Vs Gandhi, Main Bhi Superman and Love in Nepal.

The day with Mr. Basra involved a whole bunch of fun activities and events ranging from how to polish listening skills, to concentration and speaking abilities. All this was peppered with a Bollywood-style dialogue delivery from popular movies like Sholay, Jab We Met and many more.

Further, he divided the Fellows into smaller groups to perform five-minute skits on topics such as breaking stereotypes and life at the Fellowship. The sessions ended in the best possible way – with laugh riots that also carried an undertone of serious social messaging.

The most valuable takeaway from the session was that the best way to learn something in life is to enjoy it entirely and be involved in it, not go around hunting down the logic behind everything.                                                                                                                                                            

(Vidya P, Young India Fellow, Class of 2016)

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