Mumbai Monthly Meet
REPORT OF MMM ON 7TH APRIL 2012
After a long period of hibernation, Mumbai Chapter has finally been awakened and seems raring to go.
During the initial meet which took place on the 3rd of March at the new convention centre on the campus (Victor Menezes Convention Centre or VMCC for short), it was decided that the Mumbai Monthly Meets (MMMs) would be revived and that the chapter will meet on the first Saturday of every month. A group of young volunteers, Shrikant Mulik (SOM ‘05), Sachin Shirwalkar ( Civil ‘08), Himanshu Arora (ChE ’07), Chandrashekhar Bhide (CSE ‘ 99) have stepped up to the plate and assumed the responsibility of organizing the MMMs with veteran Mahavir Jain (EE 76) providing able support.
The event on the 7th April had a off-beat topic but one which is nonetheless extremely relevant in these stressful times. After opening remarks by yours truly, Prof Ali Contractor introduced the Speaker to the audience. Mr Johnson Thomas, who is a founder Director of Aasra, an NGO operating out of Navi Mumbai with a well defined mission of helping the depressed and preventing suicides, was the Guest Speaker. Mr Thomas is a versatile personality and operates as a film critic, journalist, writer, biographer, TA practitioner and a hypnotherapist. He is also the Coordinator of the NGO forum of Navi Mumbai which consists of about 70 NGOs working in diverse aspects of social welfare. He is also a visiting faculty in a number of colleges.
Mr Thomas screened a short documentary on the genesis of stress in a city like Mumbai which he followed with a power point presentation detailing the various factors which could push a young impressionable person into depression and make him / her a candidate for attempting a suicide.
He listed out the characteristic signs which should alert the potential victim’s friends and family about the possibility that such an act could be under contemplation and also elaborated upon the ways of dealing with such a situation.
Prof Gopalan, who was the Dean of Student Affairs until recently, sketched out the problem as it exists in IITB today. It came as a surprise to all in the audience that the prime causes of depression among the students on the campus were due to rejection by same-sex friends and addiction to narcotics; this was followed by disinterest in the academics due to addiction to internet and then the usual suspect inability to cope with the academics. Prof Gopalan then outlined the proactive steps adopted by the offices of the Counselor, Dean (SA) and Dean (AP)in forming peer watch groups in hostel as well as departments which monitored both the hostel and academic activities of students showing tell-tale signs of stress. The students who exhibited deviation from their known normal behavior were referred to the Dean (SA) and the Counselor. If required, the students exhibiting symptoms of stress were hospitalized and their parents / guardians contacted so that the patient could be taken away and cared for by the family members till such time as he/she was not deemed fit to resume the academic activities. Prof. Gopalan also highlighted that roughly five to six potential suicide attempts per year were avoided through this mechanism.
The talk concluded with a question and answer session where almost all of the 25 alums present participated with a questions and observations of their own about their experiences in dealing with similar situations.
The session was concluded with Mahavir Jain passing the Vote of Thanks. Prof Ali Contractor gave away mementoes to the Speaker and the Aasra team members who had accompanied Mr Thomas. Tea and snacks from Gulmohar made the lively interactive evening all the more enjoyable.
The next MMM shall be held on the 5th of May at the same location and same time. Formal announcement shall soon be made once we have the confirmation from the Speaker. See you there.