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Speakers at The Star Seniors Festival

Shattering stereotypes

Author: admin

Overcome barriers of age, health and discrimination and lead a vibrant life—that was the message of The Star Seniors Festival, held on 19 May 2018 at the Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Kaladan Auditorium in Pune.

The programme commenced with an interactive music performance by Bharat Krishnan. Followed by a round of vocal calisthenics, in which the audience participated wholeheartedly, he sang some favourite tunes from yesteryears. In fact, one of the silvers present, V Hariharan, joined him on stage, showing off his own impressive talent!

In his welcome address, Dr Ashwin Naik, physician-entrepreneur and founder of The Star Seniors Festival, shared the need to create “a platform to celebrate the contribution of seniors and their aspirations for the rest of the senior community”. Further, lauding the efforts of seniors and impelling them to break their shackles was chief guest Madhuri Sahasrabudhe, corporator of the Pune Municipal Corporation, who set the tone for the event with her inspiring speech.

The event’s first panel, ‘Age is an Asset’, examined how seniors can be a force to reckon with. Moderated by Arati Rajan Menon, our executive editor, the panellists included Sailesh Mishra, founder of Silver Innings, a social enterprise to provide need-based services to senior citizens and their families, and gerontologist Dr Nidhi Mishra, founder of Senior Express, an online platform to discuss healthy, productive and active ageing. From highlighting the challenges of demography and dispelling the myths of ageing, the panellists discussed the idea of seniors going beyond their preconceived roles. “They have to realise that they are more than just grandparents but a contributing part of society,” urged Dr Nidhi Mishra. The discussion concluded with Sailesh Mishra speaking of his efforts to promote intergenerational interaction among silvers and youth.

Following this, Col S G Dalvi, district manager of The Climate Reality Project, took to the stage to sensitise the audience about the water crisis and the inevitable cataclysmic effects of global warming. He, too, laid emphasis on the need to incorporate intergenerational participation, sharing stories from his past about how implementation of such practices was the way forward to brave the challenges posed by the changing climate.

The second panel of the event on ‘Active Ageing’ was moderated by Dr Nidhi Mishra of Senior Express. The panellists included Professor Ravindra Nimbalkar, president of Sanghvi Jyeshtha Nagrik Sanstha; Madhuri Pawar, president of the Women’s Wing of Associations of Senior Citizens’ Organisation of Pune (ASCOP), and Madhukar Pawar, vice-president of ASCOP. Following a brief on the definition of active ageing and its three pillars (health, security and participation), the panellists, active-agers all, spoke about their own service for the welfare of the senior communities of Pune.

Two more active-agers took the stage for the third panel on ‘Fulfilling the Need for Rightful Ageing’, moderated by Arati Menon. While Dr Vidya Gokhale, founder and director of Maya Care, provides free services for silvers with a dedicated band of volunteers, Subhash Gupte, founder of Diapers to Home, ensures they get adult diapers at their doorstep at a subsidised price. Their inspiring journey held the audience in thrall.

This was followed by a rousing talk by Col Achal Sridharan, managing director of Covai Care, who spoke upon the need to banish negativity, reinvent the idea of retirement and focus on positivity and activity in the silver years. The event ended with closing remarks from Lt Col Kumar Fulay, president of Colonel’s Cube, who encouraged senior to “help others and be compassionate”.

Indeed, there were many takeaways from the event; foremost was the need for silvers to believe in themselves and their potential to craft change, and aim for the stars.

Photo courtesy: Nikhil Makode
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
June 2018