The 55th Foundation Day of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi witnessed the commendation of the most distinguished faculty members of the institute, as well as a compelling lecture delivered by Mr. Bhanu Pratap Mehta, President & Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
With the venue, Seminar Hall, being packed with enthusiastic students and faculty members alike, it was an event worth reminiscing.
The proceedings got under way at 5 pm with the Director, RK Shivgaonkar welcoming the audience as well as the eminent speaker of the night. He proudly introduced our institute to Mr. Mehta, discussing it’s QS Ranking as well as its proposed paradigm shift in the near future from a teaching institute to predominantly a research institute. This was quickly followed by the handing out of Teaching Excellence awards for the previous 2 semesters. These awards were categorised under 3 suitable classes : ‘courses with large enrollment’, ‘courses with medium enrollment’ and impressive ‘young faculty’ awards. Recognition of the tremendous amount of hard-work the faculty members put in should indeed be on of the high- priority agendas for any institute. Even the stone-faced professors beaming with child-like fervour on receiving acclamation was one of the highlights of the evening.
The limelight shifted when the Director asked Mr. Mehta to address the gathering on the topic “The Crooked Lives of Free Speech”. Albeit a recipient of the Amartya Sen Prize for Social Science among other awards, the latter still claimed to be “intimidated by IIT Delhi” because of it’s ever-growing prowess, not only in technical fields, but in social sciences too. His speech was a definite eye-opener for the hypocrites and plaster saints of the world. The discourse pertained to the notion that free speech in the world is in jeopardy, and the worst enemy of free speech in India are those who tend to pose liberal ideals of freedom of expression. Perumal Murugan, a Tamil-language author who was forced to withdraw copies of his novel for sale after some right-wing Hindu groups pressurised him, acted as a major example throughout his speech. Perumal, MS Hussain etc. are just a few names which Mr. Mehta used to emphasize that free speech is indeed more of a hypocritic notion in today’s world. He poignantly brought out the fact that the essence of free speech is individuality, and today’s “free-speech liberals” have, more than anything else, shown that the perpetrators’ aim was indeed realised.
After the thought-provoking speech, the Director addressed the gathering once again, and thanked Mr. Mehta for eking out time for the event. He brought to an end what was one indelible evening.
Reported by Divyansh Srivastava