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Orientation with a difference: Saathi reaches out to incoming students at IIT Bombay

Saathi is a LGBTQ resource group consisting of LGBTQ individuals and allies associated with IIT Bombay. Set up in 2010, Saathi aims to create a safe space for community members and a more inclusive IIT Bombay campus. Saathi has organized several social events in the past, including movie screenings in coordination with Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival.

At the undergraduate orientation on 25th July 2014, Saathi was introduced to the new entrants of the IIT-B campus. The details of the orientation are as follows:

0) Aditya Joshi and Aditya Shankar worked on a pamphlet that introduced LGBTQ and Saathi in four languages: English, Hindi, Marathi and Telugu. Avinash, Navdeep wrote the Telugu writeup while Prudhvi suggested edits. The languages were dependent on availability of writers in these languages. A print copy of the pamphlet was distributed at the orientation. The pamphlet can be found here.

1) We screened a new video. Check it out. It’s very cool 😉. The idea of making it multilingual worked well with the audience applauding each time a new language came up. The quotes at the end were received very well. Sudipto suggested the concept of “first love” that was used in the video. You see Aniket, Peeyush Sharma, Aditya Shankar, Prudhvi, Ruturaj, Madalsa and Aaditya Joshi (me) in the video. Aditya Shankar did a brilliant job at filming and packaging the video.

2) The video was followed by Aditya Shankar introducing Saathi and conducting a quick quiz with the audience. I was amazed to see that ALL questions were answered correctly! (Some of them were definitely level 2 like “Which cryptography expert was gay?”).

3) We also had a rainbow-decorated stall outside the venue where we distributed freebies, displayed the books in Saathi library and collected registrations. 43 signed up to be on the mailing list! Way beyond our expectations!!

Meanwhile, when the video and the quick quiz ended, a part of the “cast” of the movie assembled on stage. The audience greeted us with a roaring applause – it’s the hardest I have heard anyone clapping, seriously!

Seeing the participation of all us volunteers and the response from the audience, I am positive that this awesome orientation is only the beginning of an awesome year for Saathi.

Note from the Editors: Saathi’s efforts and resource materials for orienting incoming undergraduate students on LGBTQ issues are, to our knowledge, the first of their kind in India. We hope the resources they have shared in this post will benefit wider audiences, and spur similar initiatives on other campuses. Check out Orinam’s list of LGBTQ campus groups in India, and our resources for educational institutions. Also, please let us know of other initiatives of this kind.


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