Carousing for a cause
The tsunami woke college kids to the world around them, and concerts and fundraisers became the order of the day
Students viewing the photo exhibits at the NIFT festival whose proceeds were donated to tsunami relief operations. -- Photo: Murali Kumar K.
THEY WERE loud, they were manic and they comprised days of straight, back-to-back revelry. But although most college fests for this academic year have packed up, students did manage to strike a sombre note somewhere along the joyride, to remember victims of the tsunami.
Unmaad, arguably Bangalore's largest inter-collegiate festival, at IIM(B), held a large tsunami relief concert featuring ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh, contributing donations to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. In fact, the arrangements were so watertight that even press photographers found that they had to pay to enter the venue.
Gaurav Verma, Secretary of the Cultural Committee, says that students of IIM(B) do work with social causes through the year, via Vikasna, a 20-member club that liaisons with the SOS Children's Village. Students are helping build a school in a nearby village, and interact with children in monthly activities, since tight pressures make a larger time commitment hard to eke out. NGOs visited Unmaad to sell goods, and students of IIM(B) often sponsor children's education through schemes facilitated by NGOs. "We don't always have one consolidated event," says Verma, "sometimes we have different smaller events, but the kids seem happy."
NIFT, which usually had their festival in January end, initially contemplated calling it off. But then, "we decided it would be better to motivate the students to do something," explains Hema Maya, Director, NIFT. "We had really a short notice because everyone was just back from vacation. Nevertheless, students and faculty came together to design jewellery, pouches and clothes aimed at a young crowd." Faculty members were keen that students not merely contribute old clothes towards tsunami relief, but rather use their own skills and hard work to make items priced as low as Rs. 40.
The hastily assembled flea market where these products were sold has earmarked 25 per cent of the Rs. 20,000 raised for tsunami relief. Maya denies that these efforts were motivated by the tsunami alone and says the emphasis was on sensitising students and showing them that noble causes can be commercial as well as beneficial. "This year was a trial to see if the young crowd was able to think of ideas and now we are not going to be waiting till the next event to contribute towards social causes," she states.
A group of alumni from Christ College and Mount Carmel College pieced together a rock show; the first large event they had organised outside the protective walls of their colleges. Five bands, including acoustic bands from their own former colleges and rock acts such as Phenom and the Galeej Gurus performed at St. John's Auditorium to contribute some Rs. 40,000 towards the NGO ActionAid. Tickets were priced at Rs. 100, apart from having sponsors.
"We felt the need to organise something," says Vijeyarupaa Muralidhara, a 24-year-old organiser, "and now that everything went fine, we know we can do it again. We can organise events even for smaller scale things."
It might have seemed callous for most students and faculty to throw lavish inter-collegiate bashes so soon after the tsunami; earmarking funds for relief and rehabilitation will certainly have assuaged some consciences. There are hundreds of perennial issues that fade from the limelight because they lack a single dramatic incident to grab the headlines. Most organisers claim they always intended to contribute to a social cause and that the tsunami provided the impetus, so here's to a more proactive college community.
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