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In Photos: Patrika Keynote 2017 plays out in India's holy city of Varanasi

Catch Team | Updated on: 28 August 2017, 19:20 IST
(Photo: Manas Gurung/CatchNews)

On 26 August, 2017, the halls of The Clark's Hotel, Varanasi, played host to the Patrika Group's annual ideafest -- Keynote 2017. With panels comprising academics, politicians, student activists, athletes and scientists, the event  was as diverse as it was informative.

Starting the event off was Union Minister of Communication Manoj Sinha, the chief guest. Mr Sinha first performed the lighting of the lamp, before going on to hold forth in the day's first session, Internet Democracy: Changing horizons. Sinha spoke at length about internet in the country, and what the government was doing to increase internet penetration among India's aspirational masses.

Following Sinha, were Jayant Chaudhary (RLD) and actor, producer, political activist Raja Bundela. Speaking successively on polarisation and divides in UP, the two gave their perspectives on the topic, also using the opportunity to deliver their political messages. While Chaudhary was well received, Bundela's vision of a Bundelkhand state drew a fair few questions from the assempled audience.

Breaking from the trend of politicians, the day's next speaker was American expat Marta Vanduzer-Snow. Marta, a PhD scholar, wowed the crowd with her amazing work building toilets for UP villages, helping the fight against open defecation.

Later in the day, student body leaders Rohit Mishra, Richa Singh and Shehla Rashid spoke on the issue of freedom of speech. Their talks, filled with the fervour and fire that has seen them creating mainstream headlines, drew laughs, cheers, as well as skepticism from the Varanasi crowd. While there was disappointment at there being no time for questions, audience members could be seen milling around the young speakers following the session.

The final session of the day though, was a fitting one on which to end the event. With two inspirational women, Nidhi Singh Patel (Power lifting champion) and Arunima Sinha ( First Indian amputee to summit Everest), the stage was set for a grand finish. The bubbly Sinha wowed and motivated the audience with her tale of loss and redemption, drawing loud cheers from an enthralled audience.

It was Patel's speech however, with the real message. Blessed with the Keynote platform, Patel launched into a passionate plea for funding for women's sport in India. Her passioante appeal won the audience over, with tales of hardship and government apathy clearly striking a note with the assembled crowd. Curated here are some photos from the event:

Raja Bundela speaking on UP: Divide or Unite (Photo: Manas Gurung/CatchNews)
A lively debate with Jayant Chaudhary kept proceedings lively. (Photo: Manas Gurung/CatchNews)
Sessions stretched from 11 in the morning all the way to 6PM (Photo: Manas Gurung/CatchNews)
Originally from Boston, Marta Vanduzer-Snow has dedicated herself to improving UP. (Photo:Manas Gurung/CatchNews)
Photo: Manas Gurung/CatchNews
The final session, Nidhi Singh Patel and Arunima Sinha in conversation with Avinash Das (Photo: Manas Gurung/CatchNews)
First published: 28 August 2017, 19:20 IST