BIS #7056 Annual Philosophical Seminar at Divyadaan

By Cl. Elton Fernandes for BISMumbai

On 13 and 14 September 2023, Divyadaan: Salesian Institute of Philosophy Divyadaan, Nashik, conducted its annual seminar on the topic ‘Freedom of Speech: Is It a Fundamental Right?’.

The seminar had nine speakers and was attended by the students of philosophy and the neighbouring religious communities. The seminar commenced with a hymn to the Holy Spirit. Fr Jacob Palaparambil, the Registrar, cordially welcomed the gathering and invited all to have a fruitful learning experience. Fr Wyman Gonsalves, the Moderator of the seminar, highlighted the procedure and gave a general introduction to the topic, drawing thoughts from the Charter of the United Nations. 

Seven professors presented their papers on the first day of the seminar. The first speaker, Fr Joaquim D'Souza, presented the foundation of human rights and gave a historical and philosophical perspective of human rights. Dn Ian Pinto spoke on the issues of privacy and free speech, analysing the interplay between individual rights. Fr Palaparambil exposed the theme, ‘Hate Speech and Incitement,’ while Fr Felix Fernandes investigated counter-speech and discourses. Fr Robert Pen reflected on the challenges of the digital age and freedom of speech in the era of social media. Fr Nelson Mudaliar examined the freedom of speech in Indian subaltern politics. The last talk of the day was given by Fr Ashley Miranda. Each professor was given thirty minutes to expose their theme. This was followed by questions and clarification. All the talks and questioning sessions were suitably animated by the moderator. 

On the second day of the seminar, Fr Gonsalves gave a brief summary of the seven themes that were presented on the first day. This served as a recapitulation and put the audience into perspective to continue with the exposition of the seminar’s topic. Then  Fr Mavron Fernandes spoke about the neurological implications when faced with hindrances to freedom of speech. The final speaker of the seminar, Fr Anil Gonsalves OFM Capuchin, presented on the theme of cultural sensitivity and navigating free speech in multicultural societies. After these inputs, there was a panel discussion where the audience brought out their queries and clarifications. Students were given the opportunity to address their doubts to any of the speakers.  

To bring the annual seminar to its conclusion, Fr Palaparambil gave the concluding remarks and reiterated that the two-day seminar would bear fruit when each of the participants took the necessary and needed steps to ensure that they became the voice of the voiceless. He exhorted all to make a conscious effort to fight for our rights and the rights of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalised. In conclusion, he profusely thanked each person responsible for the success of the seminar.