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Declassified – Covert Operations by Blank 101

On 17th January 2019, the public speaking club of Manipal, Blank 101, conducted its first event of the semester, where speakers declassified the world of Covert Operations for an eager audience. “Unlike James Bond stuff but more Die Hard”, is how Blank 101 member, Hemant Srivastava, described the topic. The talks were presented in a more laid-back manner and used layman’s terms to help put forth different concepts to the audience.

The speeches dealt with secret operations from those occurring during World War-II to most recently, the search for Osama bin Laden. Presenting the audacious tale of, “Mincemeat swallowed. Rod, line and sinker”, the first speaker Mayank, began the evening on a high note. Although his talk about Operation Mincemeat was punctuated with bouts of laughter, he effectively managed to communicate the severity of this operation during World War-II. Following this were talks on the Norwegian heavy water homicide – Operation Gunnerside, the hostage rescue mission – Operation Entebbe, India’s first successful nuclear bomb test – Smiling Buddha, Juan Pujol Garcia, and The Phoenix Program.

Maureen spoke on the famed Operation Neptune that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. Vanshika delivered the chilling story of Project MKUltra, a program where the CIA used torture to try and control the minds of the test subjects. There were nine speakers in total, but perhaps the most memorable talk was the final one given by Praneeth. He spoke about failed operations, comparing a botched assassination attempt to a 1940’s Bollywood movie, and an operation involving “the power hungry and egotistic” Americans using cats to spy on the Kremlin.

A member of Blank 101, Snigdha said that “The turnout is pretty good as usual. We as a club attract people who are interested in a particular topic. The thing with this topic is that it gives out conspiracy vibes. The moment you find out the government is hiding something from you, it makes you want to know more about it.” Neeharika, an audience member, described the event by saying, “It was a very informative and unconventional topic. I came here today because my friend had previously enjoyed a session on prisons and I wanted to see for myself what the hype was all about.”

Soon after the event ended, the club held its recruitment test. As all recruitments go, nervous candidates waited their turn at a chance to impress their interviewers with witty and well-thought opinions. The questions were quirky and required some pretty creative and outrageous thinking. The event ended on a high note and can be counted as another success in Blank 101’s pocket.

Picture Credits: Akshat Joshipura, The Photography Club, Manipal. 

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