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President’s Message – August 2014

19 August 2014

Dear Members and fellow alumni of Oxford/Cambridge,

Greetings for Independence Day, just gone by, and the festive season that is rapidly descending upon us.

As you may be aware, the new office bearers and executive committee of the Society were elected at the recent Annual General Meeting held on 26th July 2014, as below, for a two-year term (2014-2016):

Honorary President: Shashank Vira
Honorary Vice President: Vikram Lall
Honorary Secretary & Treasurer: Uday Walia
Executive Committee members: Rukmini Chawla Kumar, Ketaki Karnik, Indy Sarker, Kavita Singh, Mahima Puri, Anish Dayal

I must begin my first letter as the Society’s president by congratulating Sumanjit Chaudhry, the outgoing President, and his hard-working committee for their stellar leadership of the Society and for the great success of the inaugural and second Oxbridge Ball.

The AGM was coloured by more than a hint of sadness, though, as around the same time, just a few weeks ago, we lost Reggie Khosla, Secretary and Treasurer of the Society, to an illness he valiantly fought; our condolences to his family.

However, looking ahead on a more positive note, this is going to be an exciting year for our Society. The Executive Committee worked extremely hard this past fortnight to review our structure and develop a strategic plan that better serves the diverse membership of our alumni association.

As a reminder, the main objects of our Society are:

  • To bring together and promote fellowship amongst those who are/were connected with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge with a view to providing unity of action in the common cause of the promotion of education and learning
  • To promote and diffuse useful knowledge and advancement of education and learning
  • To undertake, organise and facilitate conferences, seminars, lectures and research in matters relating to different cultural patterns of international society
  • To arrange meetings, discussions, seminars, exhibitions, displays, concerts, films, sports and other cultural and social get-together programmes
  • To issue appeals and applications or otherwise solicit funds in furtherance of the said objects

In the following paragraphs, you can read about the many activities planned for the year. We intend to continue with the rich traditions of the Society and to introduce some new ideas that we find exciting. As President, it is my objective to establish deeper and closer links with the two Universities. We also wish to revitalise the Annual Event (dinner) of the Society and to continue with the Oxbridge Ball. We hope to strengthen the Scholarships programme.

As part of good housekeeping, we have begun a process of checks to ensure that our Society is compliant with all the regulations that it needs to follow and we will present a compliance certificate to the members at the next AGM. At the same time, we are reworking the website and communication mechanism, continuing the process of validating our member database and building up the corpus fund of the Society.

We understand that many members are not receiving communications from the Society and, even in the short time that this Committee has been in place, we have heard from three members that they are not receiving any notices from the Society. This must, of course, be addressed with the greatest urgency. We are sending this letter to you by physical mail as well as electronically. Attached with this letter is a Communications Update Form. Please do fill it up and either email or post it to us by 31 August 2014. This is not a complete profile update request; it is merely to ensure that our communications do get to you.

Our plans for this year include the following:

  • An Annual Event in March, which would be the main formal social gathering of the membership of the Society and their spouses. Our endeavour shall be to make this an interesting social event, at a price accessible to all.
  • The annual Oxbridge Ball, the intention of which is to be a fund-raiser as well as to spread the message of Oxbridge fellowship. The tentative date to block in the calendar for the Ball is Saturday, 6 December 2014.
  • Scholarships, enhanced as much as funds and partnerships will allow, continue. The application process commences in January 2015 and scholarship awards are normally announced by July.
  • ‘Mixers’ – self funded drinks gatherings in association with the alumni societies of other UK and US universities.

We are planning a rather packed social calendar for the Society. The events will be regular and predictable, to allow members and visitors from the universities to plan ahead. Additional special interest events will be interspaced with the regular items on the calendar. Some of the new initiatives include:

  • Monthly drinks gathering on a fixed day every month, for as many as can make it to the venue.
  • Oxbridge Lecture Series, once in two months, in collaboration with an institution such as IIC, IHC or the British Council, and supported by the two universities.

To enhance and support the scholarships programme, we are also initiating a Mentorship programme, to support and guide existing Indian scholars at Oxford and Cambridge and to help these students integrate back into India at the end of their studies. Please do write in and let me know if you would be interested in becoming a Mentor.

This year will also be focused on streamlining our operations and visibility of the Society in the Oxbridge community. Later this quarter, a redesigned website will be available. I urge you to visit our web pages for Society and university news, a calendar of events, and volunteer and mentoring opportunities. Our Facebook and LinkedIn pages are still in place, as well.

We are looking to grow the number of alumni volunteers participating as event organisers or assisting with short-term projects. Even if you have only a few hours to spare, please consider donating that time to serve as a Society volunteer.

The Society is also in need of enhancing its corpus fund. Any ideas for fund raising and any volunteers to assist with this effort would be most welcome!

Finally, do pencil in the following dates into your calendar. Further details will follow.

  • Welcome to Oxford and Cambridge event, Gurgaon: 29 August 2014
  • Oxford India Lecture in New Delhi: 15 September 2014
  • Cambridge Global Event in New Delhi: 19 September 2014
  • Oxford alumni weekend at Oxford: 19-21 September 2014
  • Cambridge alumni weekend at Cambridge: 26-28 September 2014
  • British Council Drinks Reception: 1 October 2014
  • Thursday OCSI Cocktails: 16 October 2014
  • Oxbridge Ball 2014, New Delhi: 6 December 2014
  • Said Business School, Oxford, event in Mumbai: 9 December 2014

The Executive Committee wants to hear from you; this is your Society. Do write in at oxcamindia@gmail.com.

The team and I are honoured to serve the Society for these two years and we look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Shashank

SHASHANK VIRA
Honorary President
The Oxford and Cambridge Society of India