A discussion club for students, by students

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Student-led club Pinnacle, which is a platform for students of Goa University to freely exchange diverse ideas, has organised discussions on a variety of issues of significance to society. NT KURIOCITY gets details

RAMANDEEP KAUR|NT KURIOCITY

Pinnacle club was created in 2018 as a discussion club for the students of Goa University (GU) in order to initiate freewheeling conversations on issues that matter to students and the academic community at large. Ramrai Naik, a former student of the department of political science convened the first discussion which ultimately led to the founding of the club along with Shailesh Tanpure and Norman Fernandes (chairperson of its non-executive arm which is the permanent body).

Although the club maintains its independence in operation, it has been largely successful due to the active support provided by professor Rahul Tripathi and other faculty members of the department of political science. Assistant professor, Yugank Naik has been another pillar of support and has provided consistent mentoring to those associated with the club.

Over a span of two years, Pinnacle has hosted 20 activities that include discussions, debates, lectures and webinars that have taken place in different departments of GU. The themes chosen for the discussions were always central to that particular department. Pinnacle witnessed massive participation from the general public and students for its webinar series which began during the COVID-19 lockdown. Some of the critical and important topics like the New Education Policy, India-China relations, migrant labour and mental health were discussed as part of the webinar. President of Pinnacle, Aniket Kanolkar says: “There are brainstorming sessions within the organising committee for the planning of upcoming events and they arrive at a topic by consensus in keeping with what is most relevant for discussion at that point of time.”

However, after organising events since July 2018, they realised that it would be unsustainable to maintain this without funds. So initially Pinnacle activities were funded by its founding members but eventually they started the donation process and have received funding from most of the social science faculty members of GU. “To further sustain its activities in the future, Pinnacle will always appreciate support from private individuals and organisations,” says Kanolkar.

Apart from discussions, there are also debates and lecture series but the frequency of that, says Kanolkar, is very less and their primary focus remains on discussions. “It has become a necessity more than a responsibility for Pinnacle to continuously stimulate public discussion on matters that are important to students and for our changing world,” he says.

Also, one of the many objectives of the club is to encourage diverse ideas in order to help build an inclusive culture and a knowledge-driven ecosystem in the university. Kanolkar says Pinnacle has always resolved to give voice to people belonging to different political and social backgrounds for the sole intention of bringing diverse opinions and ideas on one platform. He says: “A significant part of its discussions deals with political issues, but Pinnacle remains independent from any political affiliation. It has been clearly mentioned in Pinnacle statutes that at no point of time will Pinnacle take the shape of a political outfit or be involved in a political protest on campus. As a body its role will mainly be to discuss, debate, present, recommend and advise.”

The club has over 300 members who are regularly part of its discussion, however since all of its activities are public, they always have new faces joining and actively participating. In its current academic year, the organising committee of Pinnacle has over 15 members under the leadership of Kanolkar.

It is also to be noted that any student who is currently studying or has previously studied at GU or colleges at the undergraduate level can take up the Pinnacle membership. “We can be reached on our social media pages. Pinnacle’s organising committee also welcomes suggestions for new ideas and activities by its members,” says Kanolkar.

And although it’s been two years since its founding, the members of the club believe that they have just started and they are far from creating the vibrant culture of discussions and debates on campus. “Through Pinnacle we provide a platform for students to develop their critical thinking and speak for issues that concern them as individuals. Pinnacle envisages to build a student community that will enable its members to share and gain knowledge with regards to different academic fields as well as general matters,” says Kanolkar adding that over the years the club aspires to mature as an organisation that allows students to help set public discourse.

(The next discussion will be held on October 24 on the issue of Projects at Mollem. Those planning to register for the webinar may visit Pinnacle’s social media pages for more details, ie Instagram.com/pinnaclediscussionclub)