Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ISFiT Diaries III - The Plenary Sessions

Recollections from the International Students’ Festival in Trondheim 2013

The Plenary sessions, held in the oval Storsalen, with its emergency exits at both sides, was listening and questioning leaders from various spheres of life. I write only about two of them.  

John Hope Bryant. Source: Google Images

John Hope Bryant is a silver rights entrepreneur and a financial literacy/poverty eradication activist. He is the show stopper at ISFiT 2013.  He delivers a speech that Studentersamfundet will never forget. His ideas are so loud and clear, his voice so powerful, its appeals to your senses, his call so sincere, it touches the soul, his passion so intense, it penetrates the mind, his spirit on fire, it ignites the spark of change. He starts with “You cannot have a rainbow without having a storm first” and ends with “What kind of bird do you want to be?” he asks. Storsalen is resonated with “The eagle!” in one voice. He blames ‘laziness’ and calls for change, to bent the arc of history for a better tomorrow, drawing reference to Martin Luther King, not once, but many times. He also tells us about ‘cathedral thinking’. He continues and says, “the Ph.ds are good but the Ph.dos are better”. When John finishes, there is silence, Storsalen is illuminated with vibes of appreciation and the Hope is honored with a standing ovation.

Dr Vandana Shiva is an outspoken critic of globalization, eco-feminist, an eloquent advocate of mother nature, and a green campaigner - she is a rock of determination. She speaks of dwindling natural resources, a planet in perish, and reminds us of our moral obligations to mother nature. She speaks of agro-engineering corporations assaulting mother nature’s sacredness. I support her calls for eco-justice. She goes on to speak of dehumanizing inflation and of an economic system that thrives on the poor, with utter disregard for environmental sensitivities. Her cogent vivisection of globalization, delivered in impeccable English, is food for thought. Besides, her elaborate saree and her dotted forehead (called a ‘bindeya’ in Hindi) shuns mono-culture, as propounded by globalization.

Dr Vandana Shiva. Source:

Source: Google Images
I agree with most of what Dr Shiva offered. Climate change, with South Asia being one of the most vulnerable, is a repercussion of the industrial revolution in the West. Moreover, the economic recession of 2008 and the recent Occupy Wall Street Movement revealed the fragility of contemporary capitalism. The prosperity of yesteryears is now empty consumerism. Our mechanical way of life which is not in harmony with nature and rat race for money, have made life a disposable commodity.

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