1. Freedom Caravan
“Underlying most arguments against the free market is the lack of belief in freedom itself!”
Honking gleefully, the Freedom Caravan arrived straight at the gates of NMIMS Mumbai, to dispel widespread myths surrounding the reasons for India’s poverty, and to interact with curious young minds.
Setting in motion the wheels of the Caravan was the ‘World’s Smallest Political Quiz’, a platform where students’ attitudes towards freedom are identified on two scales, personal and economic. Participants’ answers were used to categorize them into five divisions: Authoritarian, Leftist, Conservative, Centrist, and Liberal. The quiz made the audience realize their stance on freedom and thus ignited their thought processes.
The event was conducted by India’s top think-tank, Centre for Civil Society, a fountainhead of social change through public policy. Guest speaker Amit Varma, a maverick in the field of journalism best known for his blog India Uncut, threw light on the chief topic for the day: Why is India Poor?
The Caravan covered all aspects of the journey to find an answer – halting briefly on areas like illiteracy, unemployment, corruption, politics, colonialism and globalization. This was facilitated by an open and interactive discussion with the audience. Various facts and figures were put forth by the speaker through an informative presentation, to support his views and remove general misconceptions. He used ample and apt examples to compare India with countries facing the same problem. Towards the end of the journey the answer was brought out loud and clear – India is poor due to lack of economic freedom.
Re-fuelling the Caravan were two activities, conducted to drive home the importance of a free market and free trade between countries. Initially, different varieties of resources (chocolates) were distributed unequally amongst the participants. In the first activity, they were allowed to trade their resources only with their neighbors. This resulted in a negligible amount of trade and a disconcerted audience. In the latter activity, everyone was allowed to trade freely without any restrictions. This approach proved more profitable to everyone and resulted in greater social benefit – a win-win all around. The activities proved that free markets do not necessarily result in ‘rich getting richer, poor getting poorer’ mechanisms. In fact, they refute it.
Thus before departing, the Caravan pointed out that for a winner to exist; there needn’t necessarily be a loser. Economic freedom benefits one and all. Summing up in the words of Ayn Rand,
“Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”
2. SafeCity Workshop on women safety and sexual harassment
RedDot Foundation, an NGO working for women safety and sexual harassment conducted a workshop on Women Safety and Sexual Harassment on 4th of November 2015.
About SafeCity: Safecity, registered as RedDot Foundation under Sec 8, is a not for profit organization founded in 2012 to encourage women and girls to record incidences of sexual harassment and educate them about personal safety and mobility. Safecity provides a platform for people to share their personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This data, which may be anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities and local administration for social and systemic change for safer cities. SafeCity was launched on 26 Dec 2012 and since then have collected over 4000 stories from over 50 cities in India and Nepal.
Agenda of the workshop: Most people don’t recognize sexual harassment because they don’t know what constitutes it as such. It is important to educate ourselves about laws and rights and resources available.
Points that were discussed
• Sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces
• Sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace
• Sexual awareness for youth
• Child sexual abuse
• Sexual abuse and legal rights
ElsaMarie D’Silva : She is the co-founder and Director of SafeCity .She is an experienced aviation professional who excels in operations and people management. She made a career switch about 2 years ago to the developmental sector in order to improve the lives of women, youth and children through awareness, interaction and education. She is an Aspen New Voices Fellow, a Vital Voices Lead Fellow and a Cherie Blair Foundation Mentee in the Women Leadership programme.
Riddhima Sharma: She is the communications officer of SafeCity. She is also a founder of FemPositive which is a movement to promote inclusiveness and positivity in feminism. She is an Advisor to The Centre for Women empowerment, Law for Aid and Welfare.
The session was attended by 30 female students of School of Business Management, NMIMS. It was an enriching session which laid bare before us some starting facts. Facts which more than often we choose to ignore. Incidences will go down only when all incidences starts getting reported. It was highlighted brilliantly with facts and figures.
Social Responsibility Forum is in debt of SafeCity for conducting such a an amazing workshop for the students of Nmims.