Life throws many things at you. It is up to you to make your choices. Your happiness, your success are all choices that you make every day in life. Life becomes so much simpler once you understand this basic tenet and move on.

From the eminent ophthalmic surgeon who made his choice to work for the poor rather than make his millions, a musical prodigy who chose to become more than just a violinist and to a dancer, who could channel her passion for her craft as a life-giving force to conquer cancer, almost all those who spoke at the on-going Erudite Conclave at Medical College, had valuable lessons for life for the young doctors.

The Erudite Conclave, a two-day interdisciplinary festival organised by the 2005 MBBS batch of the Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, who are just leaving the portals of their alma mater, began here on Tuesday.

The graduating batch did themselves and their institution proud as day one of the conclave turned out to be a spirited session and an occasion for the medical students and faculty to unwind themselves. Also, to ponder for a moment at least, about the choices that they made in life.

Sandak Ruit, the ophthalmic surgeon from Nepal and a Magsaysay award winner, who has dedicated his life to giving sight to sightless millions in poor nations across the world, enlightened students about the rough paths he had trodden before he found success in his life's mission.

The young musician and violin prodigy, Balabhasker, soon had the entire audience clapping and singing along as he played several popular numbers as well as his classic compositions on the violin.

Ananda Shankar Jayant, dancer, choreographer, Padma Shri recipient, who is also a senior bureaucrat with the Indian Railway Service, had the audience listening enthralled as she spoke about the power of mind and positive thinking. It was in 2008 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Jayant spoke about how after the initial days of despair, she decided that she will not wallow in self pity and (not) allow cancer to take over her life. She motivated students to make their choices in life to be positive, to succeed, to push one's own boundaries and move on.

Air Marshal S.P. Singh, Commander-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, spoke about leadership in corporate world. Anil K. Gupta, faculty, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and founder of Honeybee network and National Innovation Foundation, had much to say about how grassroots-level innovators and non-conventional wisdom of rural India were being ignored by the educated elite in urban India.

He pointed out that despite living in filth and the most unhygienic surroundings, many slum-dwellers were quite robust. But none of the health researchers had till date thought about researching into the reasons for their robustness. Dr. Gupta also spoke about the Honeybee network and Srishti that he had founded to promote indigenous innovations and to ensure that the innovators got their space.

Former diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan chaired an interactive session between engineering, medical, and management students which debated about nuclear energy and air pollution.

“The Erudite Conclave is an occasion for medical students to interact with eminent persons from various fields and to get their perspectives on various issues. Doctors and scientists should have a well-rounded view of the world, with inputs from various spheres like art, humanities, technology, and economics so that their vision and thinking is broad-based,” MCH Principal Ramdas Pisharody said. The event ends on Wednesday, the highlight of the day being an interactive session with Nobel laureate Rolf M. Zinkernagel.