Second Edition of Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit concludes in Mumbai
Date: 16 March, 2015
The second edition of the Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit was organized in Mumbai over two days- 14 and 15 March- by Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment (MINGLE) in partnership with both international groups- Fondation de France (key sponsor), Rainbow Solidarite (LGBT Rights Group based in France)- and local community partners in Mumbai- Humsafar Trust, Pink Pages magazine, Gaysi and Gay Bombay. Notably, the summit was hosted by the Godrej Industries group at its sprawling campus in Vikhroli, Mumbai.
The objective of the summit was to identify potential leaders among the LGBT Indian youth and groom them for future leadership roles. More than a hundred young LGBT people between the ages 21 and 32 had applied to attend, among whom 35 were selected to attend based on their leadership potential and willingness to engage on LGBT issues. The participants were a diverse group of men and women from various professional, educational and cultural backgrounds- coming from many Indian cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Indore among others. The theme for the summit was- “LGBT Empowerment: Building Alliances Within and Beyond”
The summit included a talk on ‘Gender, Sex and Sexuality’ by Vivek Anand (CEO, Humsafar Trust) who spoke about his years of work with the LGBT community and had a discussion on how to grow as inclusive leaders of the LGBT community. Kiran Gulrajani's, (Leadership Coach and founder of CoEvolve) session on ‘Living in freedom and Awareness’ gave participants a taste of the power of mind and exemplified how it can potentially be used to be better leaders. Sonal Giani (Advocacy Officer, Humsafar Trust) conducted a workshop on ‘Crisis Management’ and shared the realities of ground work as an LGBT leader. Harish Iyer's talked on ‘Leadership and Counselling’, and Parmesh Shahani (Head of Godrej India Culture Lab) spoke about being out and successful in the corporate world.
The summit ended with a panel discussion on the summit’s theme of building alliances with Nisaba Godrej (Executive Director, Godrej Consumer Products Limited), Meera Sanyal (Leader of AAP), Ashok Row Kavi (Founding leader of Humsafar Trust). Nisa emphasized the need for employees to be vocal and be catalysts for change themselves instead of waiting for change to be initiated by business leaders. Speaking about Godrej’s commitment to build a more inclusive workplace, she said “For us, LGBT inclusion is simply the right thing to do, besides the fact that we do not want to exclude a great source of talent for our organization.” Meera Sanyal articulated the commonality of the need for freedom and an end to tyranny being the crux of many movements and how we can lay the foundations for fostering alliances between different movements basing on this commonality. She said she was hopeful for the LGBT cause in India, “The weight of current times and popular opinion are now on our side”. Ashok Row Kavi pressed the need for strategizing these alliances in the context of current trends.
The two-day event ended on an energetic note with the promise of similar future events being met with enthusiastic cheers amidst certificates being handed out. Nikita Nair from Bangalore said “This summit was thought provoking, introspective and has provided me with an opportunity to meet other bright young leaders of the Indian LGBT community.” According to Shweta Aggarwal from Gurgaon, “I leave not only with greater clarity about some aspects of life but with lifetime relationships.”
Udayan Dhar, Project leader at MINGLE for the Youth Leadership Summit shared his views on the summit, “I am delighted with the level of energy this summit generated. Our objective is to build capacities, and with such enthusiastic participation by such bright and articulate youth leaders from across India, I am confident of LGBT empowerment becoming a reality in India.” Commenting on the Summit, Parmesh said, “I was very impressed by the dedication of the young LGBT Leaders during my interactions with them over two days. I’m sure that they will propel India into a brighter and more inclusive future”.