Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Report of the 2nd Atlas Meet in Delhi

The 2nd Atlas Meet in Delhi, the previous Saturday, was another stimulating evening of ideas! While the participation was almost completely different from last month, the group was larger in size, just as engaging and had a wide variety of people.

Apart from the usual suspects, Barun, Vikram and Amar, we had the following participants:

  1. Dr. Gurmail Benipal, a professor at IIT Delhi.
  2. & 3. Pavan Bagai, the COO at EXL Service, and his wife Geetika Bagai, both long time admirers of Ayn Rand.
  1. Shivani Kaul, a Chartered Accountant by trade who’s been working closely with this initiative lately.
  2. Kumar Anand, a recent Economics graduate who discovered Rand strictly outside his classroom.
  3. Sunil Khetan, an entrepreneur who heads a company called the Ayn Rand International!
  4. Ravi Shanker Kapoor, a journalist who’s fairly well-versed with Ayn Rand’s ideas.
  5. Mr. VK Kharbanda, who’s completely new to Ayn Rand’s ideas but still found the prospect of this meeting engaging enough for a Saturday evening.
  6. 10. & 11. And, finally, the feature of this evening – Rakhi, Manoj and Anupam, members of a theater group that recently performed Ayn Rand’s play, The Night of January 16th, in Delhi.

There was also Rakhi’s unusually patient daughter who followed in the footsteps of Rohan, the little one from last time. This made 15 in all!

After the customary introductions, we began the evening by watching an interview of Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, where he talks about Capitalism and its moral basis. This led to several interesting conversations – the need for an ethical basis for capitalism, optimism vs pessimism in the Indian context, and why discussions on the political and economic aspects of Ayn Rand’s philosophy literally veer towards the free ‘market’ and business world and always seem to ignore other professions and trades such as art, teaching and non-profit work.

We followed this by brainstorming ideas that could make for intellectually stimulating discussions during future meetings. Several thoughts were shared, and after a bit of debate and discussion that yielded a tangible list, we moved on to the part where we discussed possible avenues of activism, i.e., spreading Ayn Rand’s ideas. This is where the inputs of Rakhi, Manoj and Anupam came in. They told us that they had staged the Night of January 16th thrice in Delhi, and the theater was houseful each time! They showed us some video clips of their play, and we followed this up by discussing the possibility of hosting this play again, perhaps as part of a weekend ‘Ayn Rand festival’ some time in November and December. We also have the We The Living movie that we could screen during such an event.

Other ideas for activism were discussed as well, such as ways to actively promote Ayn Rand’s ideas in school and college campuses and translating excerpts from her books in regional languages. However, much like last time, all these ideas desperately require initiative, further thought and attention to detail from the participants, if they are to see the light of day.

By the time we finished, it was 8.40 pm. We had gone past our scheduled time by over an hour, but the three hours, in all, had left us with several thoughts to chew upon.

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