Congratulations Shannon Philip Malangs Scholar 2014
Being elected the first Malangs Scholar is a great honour. I got to meet, drink and dine with a fascinating group of eminent South Asians who studied at Oxford almost 50 years ago. The stories the Malangs told me about their Oxford days had very little to do with essay writing or studying, but indeed a lot to do with the topic of my essay on gender and women. Not only could they drink me under the table, but I listened to the painful memories of the Malangs trying to court girls from my current College, Lady Margaret Hall, which back then was an all girls college, tales about forgetting essays in Benazir Bhutto’s yellow sports and useful tips on dodging College porters.
I had the privilege of being seated next to Pakistani politician and senior Supreme Court advocate Kamal Afzar who gave the key note address and talked to me at great length about my essay, student life and current University politics. It was also fascinating to talk with two prominent women working in South Asian development, Baela Jamil and Shahida Saigol, about the policy situation on various gender issues and the pressures faced by people like themselves working in the field. After a decadent three course dinner, several glasses of champagne, three different types of wine and Balliol College’s finest port, I somehow felt I had become best friends with this highly accomplished group of diplomats, ministers and top government officials. Even if this remains a distant dream, what is true is that the Malangs South Asia Essay Prize has given me not just confidence and encouragement for my future work on gender issues, but also a whole set of personal insights and stories about life, love and work from fellow veteran Oxonians. I am extremely grateful for the prize and encourage everyone to apply.