Now that the convocation's finally over and TISS looks more like a student campus than a police station with gumbles of policemen and women in every corner, I thought I’ll pen down the day's events chronologically...
5th May 2006
Time : 2:10pm
State : Asleep on the sofa
My cell buzzes, waking me up from my dream world. It’s a call from my college, asking me to come latest by 3pm since the Registrar wanted to see me. All kinds of thoughts ran through my head - my convocation was the following day and I wondered if I had forgotten any formalities. I was supposed to leave for the airport to receive my mother and had asked for the car around 5pm. I prayed I would be able to leave TISS before that.
I reached TISS only to find that my green institute was enveloped in sheets of white, cutting off visibility from curious passer-bys and onlookers. There were policemen and security personnel everywhere. In the midst of so many suspicious looks, I was glad to see my institute security guards recognize me and wave me in.
After completing the formalities and meeting the Registrar, I met up with Akila and we both left for my residence, thankfully in time to leave for the airport. After receiving my mother, we got ourselves dropped at Juhu beach where we talked and talked till a considerable part of the night. After a quick bhelpuri and dinner at ShivSagar;s, we decided to sack at Cafe Mochas where I indulged in a 4-storey chocolate temptation. Around midnight, we again left for the airport to receive Anu, a classmate of ours who was flying in for the convo.
Her flight finally landed at 1:00am. It was so awesome to meet up with Anu. We left for my home where we talked till the wee hours of the morning and then got up to get dressed for the convocation. We left at around 8:30am for TISS – my parents, Anu, Akila and Moi.
The campus was completely covered. All entrances were sealed and there were police personnel in all buildings and approach roads. There were metal detectors, scanners, body-scanning equipments and walky-talkies all over the place. No mobile phones and cameras were allowed. Entry was strictly on identity card basis and a complete scan was done before we were allowed into the enclosure. Since I was an awardee, I was given a special security clearance badge, which would allow me to sit in the front row. We were asked to wait in classrooms where we friends all caught up with old times.
Finally, we were made to stand in a queue and escorted to the enclosure. The first row has sofas, which were occupied by personages and invited guests. The awardees were seated just behind them. Behind us was our entire batch of 170 students. Faculty, parents and television crew brought up the rear.
The PM had been provided with the top "Z" plus security cover. Protected by the elite Special Protection Group, the Prime Minister's route was guarded by men drawn from the Delhi Police, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Rajasthan Armed Police. He landed on the helipad in BARC and his convoy was escorted to the venue.
The dignitaries were Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, and Mr R.K. Krishna Kumar, Chairman, Governing Board, TISS, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, Maharashtra Chief Minister, and Mr S.M. Krishna, Governor of Maharashtra. Ours was the 66th Annual Convocation.
The convocation was simply superb. Right from security arrangements to decorations to the dignitaries on the dais was awe-inspiring. TISS conferred the degree of doctor of literature on renowned social worker Mr Murlidhar `Baba' Amte and Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, in the presence of the Prime Minister.
Some students expressed their solidarity with the continuing struggles of people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the Bhopal gas survivors, when the Prime Minister inaugurated the "Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management". An alumnus held up a black banner, protesting in silence.
I was announced on stage for receiving the award for securing first position in my department. To be receiving the certificate and my degree from the hands of the Prime Minister of India was a huge honour.. There are convocations and convocations but how many students get their degrees from the hands of the PM and in the presence of such eminent luminaries? I felt deeply humble. I went up on the dais and when I took the degree, the PM smiled and said – congratulations. God bless! – I returned to my seat and realized I was trembling. It was an absolute honor and a moment of deep pride. I was overwhelmed at the magnanimity of it all.Loved the limelight, loved every bit of the cheer and applause that went up when I received the award. The lunch that followed was sumptuous and I was happy to have made my parents proud.
And so… that’s how I graduated… went from my bachelor’s to master’s degree… this is one moment I’ll not forget in a hurry!