#TEDxConnaughtPlace Live Blog

Posted on February 11, 2012 in Specials

[liveblog]16.30: TEDxConnaughtPlace commences now. Get, TED, Go!

16.35: Witness a movement of sorts, A culmination of ideas and perspectives: TEDxConnaughtPlace


16.38: 8 speakers prepare to enthrall you with their stories and dreams of a bigger, a better future.

16.45: Piyush Tewari talks about the occurrence of accidents, the fact that India, every hour, encounters 20 road accidents. In this he highlights the highly imperative need for an Emergency Medical Response from We, The People of India. An education of such manner can save the lives of many. He continues to talk of gathering and mobilizing people, or First Hand Respondents, as he denotes it, in order to create a system of effective action during the post-accident stage. It is through these efforts and work that his organisation has been able to create an information network within India to communicate the occurrence of an accident in a certain part of the country to volunteers in order to gather help and support in the immediate need of saving a life.

17.15: Ishita Khanna of Ecosphere shares a story of life in the region of Spiti, home to only around 11000 people, and how she works towards establishing a harmonious way of subsistence for inhabitants of the cold desert.  Ecosphere thus sensitizes tourists and people, in general towards the need for preserving the culture and ecological balance of the region through sustainable means of energy usage. “Getting Spiti of the Grid” is thus an initiative that works towards “Decentralizing Energy” and making it community-owned, in order to provide the people of the place with a self-sufficient means of existence. “We need to stop being the audience… we cant change the World, but we can change ourselves” — it is this effervescent spirit of wanting to Do Good and Be Good that she leaves us with.

17.40: “It’s a really good time to be an entrepreneur in India…” says Ajay Chaturvedi, as he begins his dialogue. He underlines the great inequalities existing in the Nation of India, how the average expenses of a 5-membered household in India is less than 10% of that of a rich family in India…and the difference is just of a few 30 kilometers. It is with this concern that he started HarVa, or short for ‘Harnessing Value in Rural India’. While it is an easy task to go to a village for a week and making a few arrangements to improve the living a few households, he emphasizes on how, more importantly, it is required to set up a long-term foreground of empowerment to truly change the lives of the Living.  The socio-capitalistic way, as he puts it, creates opportunities as much as it develops a skill set among people, thus creating a sustainable means of social and economic subsistence.


18.05: Natalie Warne recounts her story of advocacy in the Invisible Children Movement, and her move towards protesting against the abduction of children of Uganda for use as child soldiers in the context of the military conflict in the country. This video from TEDx Teen, held in April 2011, reaffirms the fact that Change can be brought about, what one requires is a want for conviction, not recognition. In her words, “It is the act that makes us extraordinary, not the Oprah moment”.


18.35: Tania James, author of “Atlas of Unknowns”, talks of the very epistemology of the English language. She shares her story of growing up, and experiences that collectively shaped her person and incited in her creative energy that writers live on. Literature speaks to her and inspire her to channelize her thoughts into the written word.


18.40: B-boying in the House- Need I say more?


18.48: Snack time. Famished. Will not speak. MUST eat. (Say the speakers)


19.30: Pramada Menon, the queer feminist activist talks about Gender, Sex and Sexuality. She talks of sexuality and how its meaning goes beyond the act of sexual intercourse, to encompass different spheres of life, and how one’s sexuality is reflected in our ways of living. She questions stereotypes of sexual identities and orientations and raises the issue of heteronormativity, to emphasize that everything is normal, everything is natural, and this universally applies to all things as long as actions of one do not infringe upon the rights of another. She highlights the liberating potential of identity, of the need to question hierarchies of oppression that tries to curb anything that falls apart from the convention. “When I say ‘Not Straight, Not Weird, Just Commonplace’, I mean the need to re-interrogate, not negotiate” — it is with this thought that Pramada takes leave of us.


19.50: Swati Sahni begins to talk about the state of the education system in India, the challenges and opportunities it presents. While reforming the system of schooling, one is confronted with may challenges- be it the alienation of certain social groups from being able to benefit from the educational services provided by the government, or the high drop-out rates among girl students. She talks about the need for education that the people of the country can truly use and benefit from, about the respect that teachers of schools deserve, about the need for decentralized planning in villages to make sure that services reach the most remote corners of rural districts. Our education system has, in the words of Amartya Sen, a First Boy Syndrome, says Swati, the education system needs to be truly inclusive and go beyond the first desk, to reach the child sitting at even the furthermost bench, and only this form of knowledge can truly empower the masses.




20:30 Anoj Viswanathan of Milaap, our penultimate speaker is here to talk about engaged giving and creating a change outside the system.
Anoj talks about his fight against the system, convincing his parents to see that he did intend to bring about change and simultaneously figuring out what exactly he could do with his life. His trials and tribulations in a superpower like the United States, the whole idea of the poor- the idea of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ ,  failure of the system in implementing the needs of the not so affluent strata of our society. He uses pictures to showcase how the most basic of problems such as sanitation in the rural areas were overcome by virtue of community participation. Charity, personal connection and engaged giving are vital in order to bring about change. Anoj is an engaging speaker and his dedication in his work is evident, so is his sense of humor.[liveblog]


[liveblog] 20:53: Osama Manzar of Digital Empowerment Foundation started off with a witty remark ”Looks like America has arrived having Osama on stage at the American Center” which got the audience roaring in laughter and clapping as loudly as they could.
After a little background on his early life peppered with his self-critical humor and replete with sentences like ”The only two words I knew about IT during the 90’s were hardware and software”, Osama was as natural a speaker as one could be. He traced his journey as the founder of Digital Empowerment Foundation and then spoke about the various problems our country is plagued by. It was remarkable as to how well-versed Osama was with figures as he stressed on the lack of IT usage in a developing economy such as ours.
His initiative seeks to connect people to reach out to the market and help the’ technologically challenged’ learn and empower themselves. To enrich the world, we should have local knowledge reaching outside and bringing about a developmental change.