The 10th Modernites Excellence Awards & Conclave were held on Saturday, 13th November. The annual event, organised by Modern School Old Students Association (MSOSA) was held at the school’s Front Lawns located at Delhi’s Barakhamba Road. In attendance were the school’s prominent alumni members, many of whom also chose to join the event virtually from different parts of the world. The event commenced with the unveiling of the Wall of Fame, a wall display of eminent Modernites who have made invaluable contributions in various walks of life. This year Dr Sayeda Saiyidain Hameed and Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi were added to the school’s Wall of Fame.

The unveiling was followed by a Welcome Address by Mr Rohit Jain and an address by Mr Sunder Hemrajani, President, MSOSA. Mr Hemrajani outlined the schedule for the day and spoke about how the ‘Modern Community’ came together to help those in need during difficult times this past year. The school’s Principal, Dr Vijay Datta also delivered an address. Speaking about the theme for the evening The World in Turmoil: Crisis of Leadership he laid emphasis on what should be the ideal traits of a leader in the field of education. He elaborated how an educational leader must lead by example, combine theory with practice, think out of the box and have the ability to channelise the best in people.

The addresses were followed by the presentation ceremony for the Modernites Excellence Awards 2021. Every year, these awards recognise those alumni members who have excelled in their respective fields, have driven meaningful impact and have served the nation. This year the list included distinguished personalities, some of whom were being recognised posthumously. The awardees this year were: Late Dr Bharat Ram, Late Dr Minoo Shroff, Late Air Marshal Man Mohan Singh, Mr Bhawani Shankar, Vice Admiral (Retd) Kailash Kohli, Ms Geeta Kapur, Late Captain Kiran Sethi, Air Marshal (Retd) Narayan Menon, Mr Kiran Sethi, Mr Priya Veer Kapur, Prof Harsh Pal Singh Sachdev, Mr Rajeev Bhargava, Mr Ram Rahman, Hon’ble Justice Manmohan, Dr Vivek Nangia, Ms Shweta Sethi Sahni and Mr Sharad Kumar.

The award presentation was followed by the Gurudakshina ceremony, honouring some of the school’s teachers who dedicated their lives to their students and the school. This year five of the school’s retired teachers were conferred with this honour. The ceremony was followed by the Conclave themed: The World in Turmoil: Crisis of Leadership. Chaired by Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the panellists for the evening were Prof Harshpal Singh Sachdev, Mr Rajeev Bhargava, Ms Sunita Narain and Mr Rishabh Gulati. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon’ble Justice of the Supreme Court of India, delivered the opening remarks and unpacked the theme. He spoke about how the world is in turmoil due to a ‘crisis of leadership’ which emanates from the inability to accept other points of view. He added that our connectivity as the human species has declined, how people are no longer seeking information and are satisfied with rumours.

The first panellist was eminent Indian political theorist Mr Rajeev Bhargava who spoke about how it is not just the outer, but also the inner world which is in turmoil further elaborating on the problems which the world faces today. Mr Bhargava spoke about increased polarisation, deep inequalities which have emerged in the world along with indifference to these said inequalities. He added that people have lost a sense of discernment between what is true and false. ‘Greed has become a virtue’, he said, adding that global problems need global solutions and that the world doesn’t need managers but leaders with a vision who can inspire.

Renowned Paediatric researcher Prof Harshpal Singh Sachdev began by speaking about how power, desire and materialism are increasing alongside the corresponding decline of moral and ethical values such as compassion. He spoke about how young people are unwilling to meddle in politics, elucidating several dynamic forces at play in the world currently. These forces, Prof Sachdev said include globalisation, increasing protectionism and infiltration of transnational industries and mega philanthropic associations at the highest levels creating an ‘industrial complex’. This, he said ‘has infiltrated the functioning of the governments’. He ended on an optimistic note, stating that positive examples exist in the world as well.

Prof Sachdev was followed by prominent Indian environmentalist Ms Sunita Narain who began her address by saying that the world is witnessing the ‘revenge of nature’. She explained this further using examples of Covid-19, Air pollution in Delhi and Waste management in Thiruvananthapuram. She added that these problems can only be solved through inclusive growth. ‘You have to talk about an inclusive world, to have a sustainable world’, Ms Narain said. She further emphasised the principles of equity and justice to tackle climate change and other environmental problems.

The last panellist for the evening was Mr Rishabh Gulati the Managing Editor of NewsX, who spoke about how amid this turmoil, the ‘hope lies in India’, adding that the syncretic fabric of India is unparalleled. He further added that the world is currently facing challenges it no longer understands. Citing examples from his own profession, he emphasised the need to recognise these problems and then look for their solutions. ‘These solutions lie within India’, Mr Gulati said as he reiterated the need to discover theories and practices from within India to solve issues
of the world at large.

The conclave concluded with closing remarks from Justice Kaul. This was followed by a Vote of Thanks by Mr Puneet Raman which drew a close to the events for the evening.