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The Young Adults Series at the Bangalore International Centre

 November 2020

With France reimposing lockdown restrictions, closing universities, and restricting people's movement to just 1 hour per day, I decided to fly back to India. My rationale was simple; rather than attending online classes in a foreign city, with no roommates, no extra-curricular activities during which I would have usually interacted with people, and it being illegal to meet anyone you are not living with, it made more sense to return to a safer environment in which I could enjoy more freedom, as Bangalore was in a pretty good state, at least compared to France. 


While waiting to board my flight at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and came across a post published by the Bangalore International Centre. Clickbait-ly titled 'MUN Ki Baat' (for those who don't get the reference: PM Modi has a monthly radio show called 'Man Ki Baat'), it piqued my curiosity, and I found myself watching a recording of it. When I initially clicked on the link to the recording, I thought that I was going to listen to a panel of young MUNners talk on the BIC platform which has previously seen the likes of experts (read: old, aged and grey haired) in their respective fields - from Abhijit Banerjee to Joseph Stiglitz, Ram Guha to Harsh Mander to many more. Though I have enjoyed these grey-haired people's talks on more than one occasion, to my surprise, the 'MUNners' speaking were all in their late 20s to early 30s and in no way represented the MUNners of today, although I digress. 


Though the talk was quite enjoyable, with one of the former MUNners being a part of the Indian delegation at the real UN, I was disappointed that the BIC stage had not included youngsters and the youth thus far. Rather than merely being disappointed, I decided that now that I am back in Bangalore, and saw myself staying here for at least a couple of months, there was no better time to act on my disappointment. I had nothing to lose by trying. A few phone calls later, I was in touch with the BIC team who were extremely receptive to the idea of including the youth in public discourse; hence the Young Adults series was conceived. 


A little bit about the Bangalore International Centre


The BIC was founded in 2005 by like-minded intellects - civic leaders, educators, professionals, government officials, artists and others to facilitate 'open dialogue' in the city. Its vision is to engage with a community of thinkers and foster 'intellectual activity, dialogue, cultural enterprise and innovation'. It's building was inaugurated in 2019, and it's 48,000 square feet premises has witnessed debates, exhibitions, pop up kitchens and much more. 

What is the Young Adults Series?

Ep. 3

Ep. 2
Ep. 1

The BIC and I conceptualised the Young Adults Series. Its aim was simple; include the unrepresented youth in a platform meant to attract a diverse set of audiences, focusing on the 'younger demographics', in line with their vision statement. All panellists have to fit in the age category of 17-22 years.

The journey....

We have so far had three panel discussions beginning with the existential question of 'When are we old enough?'. The talk was well-received, and the Q&A slot turned into a counselling session in which our audience was asking us, 17-18-year-olds, for advice. Based on feedback received, and the pro-bono counselling session we had conducted, we were convinced that we were indeed old enough, and having set a good precedent, ventured into our second discussion regarding youth in activism - 'There is a bit of 'Greta' in us'. The panellists were domain (youth) experts in various fields - politics, women's rights, education and the student community. The panel spoke about the relevance of youth in activism, why they do what they do, its effectiveness, challenges, drawbacks, victories and more. The third episode dealt with screens, a ubiquitous item, especially in the pandemic stricken world. From parents forcing their little ones to restrict screen time to now forcing them to stare at a screen all day long in lieu of online classes, the panel spoke about the usage of screens - it's benefits, challenges, the role of short-form content, reduced attention span, misinformation due to social media etc 

BIC adapting to the changing times with a venue  + virtual event in which 1 panellist tuned in from Kolkata while the rest were at the BIC in Domlur, Bangalore

The series so far has been interesting, to say the least. What I am most proud of is the ability of people my age to articulate straightforwardly and maintain a sense of dignity while presenting themselves on a public platform. Credit must also be given to the BIC for not only listening to a random 18-year-old rant about how the youth should be included in public spaces but also act on it and launch the series. It has given me an opportunity to dabble as a moderator, besides being the ideator and catalyst. 

The uniqueness behind topic ideation and conceptualisation 

After having had three such talks, be rest assured that there are more to come. Though the details are still under wraps, I can promise that they will be equally, if not more impressive. After all, having adopted a system of using social media to come up with ideas of what should be discussed has influenced the nature and scope of what we talk about. Reaching out to north of 800 followers by clicking on 'post' has shaped the series and made it what it's supposed to stand for - engaging and representing the youth. How did I manage this? People (and in some cases, later, panellists), gave their ideas, held short discussions (on social media) on issues plaguing the youth, false narratives held by adults and more. Based on responses I received on social media, topics were finalised and ideated. The topics being discussed are not a reflection of what only the BIC, or I think is important. It's representative of the community of the youth we have reached out to, their ideas, thoughts, frustrations and more, and that's what makes this series unique, and truly representative.

Below, are links you may be interested in. Video recordings are available on the links as well.

1. Bangalore International Centre

2. Breaking Free: When are we old enough?

3. There is bit of 'Greta' in us

4. Here a screen, there a screen

Comments

  1. Dear Sir,
    This is a wonderful opportunity. I am a young adult, who is working on my college applications as well as preparing for school exams. As both are strongly interlinked, it would be great if you got an exam topper or someone on those lines to do a session. Especially to discuss about work-life balance and handling the pressure. It would be very useful for us young adults who are facing lot of pressure.
    Regards,
    Rangarajan TB

    ReplyDelete

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