With the term of this committee coming to an end, I am writing to appraise you of the work done by us. Three important themes, that I mentioned in my first letter, of Fellowship, Fundraising, and Furthering Scholarship, have governed all our initiatives. While a point wise chronological listing of activities and events is attached for your ready reference, I would like to specifically mention a few highlighting their significance to the society, marked in bold.
But before that, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to my committee – Uday Walia, Bharat Kumar, Sidharth Luthra, Neha Goyal, Rukmini Chawla, Vinod Grover, Neelotpal Mishra and Kartik Das (who left us for Wharton midway) for their support.
To start with, we have maintained the continuity of the rich TRADITIONS of the society – of annual dinners, cocktails, mixers with other Ivy League Universities, talks by visiting scholars from the two universities and cricket matches along with establishing our own OCSI Cricket Cup – each a celebrating of fellowship in their own way and made special by the efforts of Rukmini, Bharat, Vinod and Uday.
To these we also added some NEW IDEAS exploring possibilities of change and innovation – that could bring together members and alumni in meaningful ways, to enable sharing of their academic, professional and life experiences, through which we could mutually enrich each other.
THE OCSI DIALOGUES, was therefore conceived to be centred around our members and the idea of fellowship, as a platform to share their compelling stories, lives and accomplishments. Structured as panel discussions amongst members who are connected thematically, these conversations transcended boundaries and brought together younger and senior members through engaging conversations. Through Neha’s remarkable efforts, several members participated in panel discussions on a diverse range of topics: ‘Culture of Start-ups in India’, ‘Authors amongst us’, ‘Careers in International & Multinational Organisations’, ‘Variations in Legal Profession’, and ‘Wildlife, Conservation and Ecology’.
The formidable intellectual potential of the society found a fitting opportunity to express itself in the day long conference THE OCSI DIALOGUES 2018: INDIA PERSPECTIVES. This became a gathering of a large Oxbridge community, of scholars, policy makers, members of the government, entrepreneurs, and representatives of think tanks, who came together to engage in a high level debate to reflect on a series of key issues that shape India and its impact on the world. The panel discussions was articulated through four broad themes ‘Law and Governance’, ‘Energy, Ecology and Built Environment’, ‘Education, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Employment’, ‘Crisis of Identity: Civilisation, Culture & Hindutva’. I would like to thank members and alumni who spoke at the conference and without whose support this event would not have been possible – Mani Shankar Aiyar, Niraja Gopal Jayal, Rathin Roy, Athishi Marlena, Justice Badar Durez Ahmed, Suman Berry, Vikram S Mehta, Arunabha Ghosh, Ashok B Lall, Gyanendra Badagaiyan, Rajiv B Lall, Rukmini Banerjee, Sanjeev Sanyal, Madhu Khanna, Swapan Das Gupta, Saumya Saxena, Gitanjali Sharma, Nur Liaq & Vidhur Bhatia. I am also thankful to Prof Arvind Sharma, Prof Dipankar Gupta, K. Vijayraghavan, Pavan Varma and Bahar Dutt for joining us in the conference.
Another exciting initiative explored CULTURE AND ARTS, which was translated into heritage walks, guided tours of art and craft exhibitions, interaction with artists and curated talks. Again Neha managed several events: Heritage walks lead by historian Swapna Liddle, through Qutub Complex and Shahjahanabad, explored architecture of the Sultanate and the Mughal period. Talk by Dr. Jyotindra Jain on Indian Art & Craft was followed by a guided tour of Indian Terracotta, Textiles and Everyday Art at Sanskriti Kendra. Kartik helped in organising an exclusive guided tour of an exhibition of Modern Indian Art which was further enhanced through an engaging talk by Ashok Vajpayee organised by us. Visit to retrospectives of two eminent contemporary artists Madhavi Parekh and Vivan Sundaram was followed by an exclusive discussion with the artists.
These events helped in making the society attractive to alumni, and persistent efforts of the committee has substantially increased our MEMBERSHIP base. We are therefore delighted to welcome the 54 new members who have joined in the last two year, whose presence in events has made the society even more dynamic. We also extended our reach of fellowship by visiting Belgium where besides networking drinks with Oxbridge community of Brussels, we visited several museums in Brussels, Waterloo, Ghent and Brugge.
FUNDRAISING has always been a compelling task, but with Siddharth’s guidance and initiative, we have successfully raised Rs. 7.5 Lakhs for ‘The OCSI Scholarship’ through donations from members in 2017. For this we are very grateful to Gourab Banerjee, Siddharth Luthra, Amit Sibal and Neeraj Kishan Kaul for their contributions. We are also delighted to state that the OCSI Scholarship is now being announced on the official web sites of the two Universities.
In 2018 we raised additional Rs.4,00,000-00 towards expenses for organising the conference OCSI Dialogues 2018: India Perspectives from the Government of India and were also supported by India International Centre who provided the venue free of cost.
Taking a long term view, for creating a sustainable and permanent source of money for the scholarship, the Executive Committee has conceived and recommended the establishment of a distinct corpus fund called the OCSI CORPUS FUND with specific terms and conditions, which has been put up to the AGM on Sept 8, 2018 for approval. We are very grateful to Sidharth Luthra and Gourab Banerjee, who have made conditional donations of Rs. 30,00,000-00 each towards this fund, subject to the acceptance of the proposed terms and conditions of the OCSI Corpus Fund at the AGM.
In the midst of these activities we remained CONNECTED WITH THE TWO UNIVERSITIES through lectures and panel discussions of visiting scholars from Cambridge and Oxford. In addition the society has hosted receptions for the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge, Pro VC of Cambridge and the Director of Cambridge Trust during their visits to Delhi.
Each of these events have been presented vividly though large number of pictures in our SOCIAL MEDIA, website and Facebook. The credit for our renewed and active presence in the digital world goes entirely to Neel. Accomplishing any of this would not have been possible without the steady and consistent work of Bharat in managing our finances and administration. The Committee’s judicious financial management and event expenditure planning has resulted in a larger surplus in the Society’s accounts at the end of our term.
The experience of the last two years has convinced me even more that the society is only as good as the support and participation it gets from its members. You, therefore have been central in making this journey memorable and worthwhile.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and the society.
The Oxford and Cambridge Society of India
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