TEDx Mumbai : Speakers and Ideas - Ravi Balgi


This is a guest post by Ravi Balgi who works at Larsen and Toubro Ltd and is interested in entrepreneurship,enterprising education, grassroot economies and rural empowerment.

TEDx has always brought diverse minds under one single roof and TEDxMumbai was no different. TEDxMumbai was proudly sponsored by Cleartrip at Bluefrog on 3rd April. The entire ambiance was an éclat with speakers from various areas as also attendees from equally diverse backgrounds, each of them bringing superb insights from their life. The entire conference was available online via live feed on Facebook.

The first speaker for the day was our Indian National Hockey team’s ex- captain Viren Rasquinha who gave a talk on ‘What sports in our country need’. Post-retirement earned MBA from ISB. Driven by his keen desire to create back-up and support structure for Indian sports persons went on to establish olympicgoldquest.in under the chairmanship of Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi.

He stressed the need and importance for back-up and support infrastructure for every sportsperson in every form of game, and explained how they play a major role in deciding between winners and last comers through personal anecdotes. His talk was full of insights and appeal to everyone to come forward and support this movement to bring gold and glory to nation.

He was followed by Daniel Carroll and Dr. Anju Venkat who spoke about ‘Curing cancer by just changing diet’ by following rave diet. The only interesting thing about this talk was the information that blood and chlorophyll have the same structure and hence human body has the capability to regenerate and is self –healing.

Anupam Kher was a class in himself. He shared his lovely, funny anecdotes and remarked how they attributed to his initial acting lessons. He shared his own journey and trials and attributed his success to his ability of ‘never being scared of making an ass of himself’, ‘always believing in his dreams’ and ‘always trying to be himself’.

There was an official TED speaker Magician David Blaine’s video shown, which also spoke lengths about hopes and dreams.

Dr V. Raghunath, CEO of GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, a CSR arm of GMR explained the reasons behind ‘Why we are the way we are’ by drawing a parallel between Prisoner’s Dilemma and describing the 12 traits that he identified in Indians for the way they are. He explained that if we apply the game theoretical construct of Prisoner’s Dilemma in day to day life then we will always end up in win-win situations for all.

The next speaker was Kishore Rithe, Founder of Satpuda Foundation with a primary focus on saving tigers (they don’t belong to Aircel). He described the relationship between saving tigers and saving earth. He related the existence of tigers as an important entity in the food pyramid as well as in the eco-system balance. He elaborated his efforts throughout Maharashtra to safeguard tigers through empowerment at the grassroots.

Steven Baker, a bollywood gora followed it with an entertaining talk. He spoke about his own journey as a bollywood extra.

There was an official TED speaker Conductor Itay Talgam’s video shown, which explained how to lead.

The next session was about Languages. Speaker Nisha Yadav from TIFR spoke about the findings with ancient Indus Script. She explained that the ancient Indus script had over 450 symbols and the insight that art of writing was probably developed first among Indus habitants. The scripts recovered from the sights were either damaged or were incomplete. Advance Machine learning and natural language processing techniques like ‘conditional entropy’ are being employed to extract knowledge from the scripts and symbolic patterns.

India is a land of diverse languages and according to 1961 census, the number of languages in India were 1652 which has come down to 108 according to recent census. Ganesh Devy further explained that a language never dies but is killed and the vast knowledge that flows through the language also gets lost. He urged all to allow languages to flourish freely.

Dhanashree Pandit Rai, a classical music trainer explained that there is no difference between Indian and western music. The difference lies in the treatment that we give to the music. She explained the various ornamentations of Indian and western music which can’t be explained in words here. She explained that Indian Music was more melodious and hence can add texture to music from world over.

There was an official TED speaker Bonnie Bassier’s video shown, which explained how bacteria communicate and how they are capable of launching stealth attacks.

Lakshmi Tripathy, the first Indian transgender to represent at UN spoke about her life and struggles, her female like fascinations, her carefree attitude and here passions in general. It is sad that even today, there ae pockets of ignorance on these issues and hence third sexes are often pushed towards the fringes and away from main stream circle.

What happened to be a carefree clicking of single screen cinema theaters had now become The Cinemas Project’ by Zubin Pastakia. The entire talk was narrative and opened up a new world of single screen theaters to all. The pictures were very insightful and narrated a story to all.

Rahul and Mathias were the next speakers who spoke about the urban planning that happens in most urban areas. They cleared the myth ‘Tall rises are solutions to slums’ and explained that areas like Dharavi are more like organized villages and less like slums. They suggested that such organized areas also happen to the economic engines of urban places, with homes and work places together at one place. They urged that such villages be studied and finally they put a piece of photo from Dharavi and Tokyo and put them together. No one could spot the difference.

Cara Eastcott gave a poetry performance ‘the running game’ at the closing of the conference.

The TEDxMumbai conference gave an opportunity to seek insights from from the fellow attendees as well and as Lakshmi Pratury rightly put, ‘these connections will lead to ideas worth sharing to ideas worth accomplishing and ultimately in moving towards a better world’


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