Innovate, Debate, Recreate: These Indian Ted Talkers Are Worth Knowing

Innovate, Debate, Recreate: These Indian Ted Talkers Are Worth Knowing
Huffington Post

“It isn’t all over; everything has not been invented; the human adventure is just beginning.”

As a race, a complex and dynamic history has ensured that we remain consistently attracted to a Jugaad approach. It’s a quality that sustains our ability to survive just about anything and representative of a resourcefulness we should never give up on. A few months ago, we’d featured an interesting series about young Indian entrepreneurs who were inspiring us with this indomitable spirit and today, we have something along rather similar lines.

We all need a pick-me-up mid-week so we decided to delineate a few young Indian Ted Talkers who made both compelling and thought-provoking arguments through their speeches. From disbanding cultural stereotypes to transforming trash into toys, these Indians are challenging all norms of a cubed existence and will force you to ponder on questions you may never have considered. In short, prepare to be inspired.

I. Maulik Pancholy On Disbanding Cultural Stereotypes

Actor Maulik Pancholy, famous for his roles in 30 Rock, Whitney and Weeds opens up about his personal experience with ethnic expectations and cultural stereotypes. He begins to describe how he was subjected to being “slotted” into a role right from his undergraduate studies at North Western University, where he struggled with his Indian Identity. Progressively after netting a few theatre credits from local theatres in Chicago, he moved to Los Angeles, only to discover he was sheltering himself from a widely accepted perspective about his roots. Being asked to do the “Indian accent” countless times, he sheds some light on how producers and directors are often narrow-minded when it comes to casting, which is why it took him a while to establish himself. His speech is endearing and funny, offering an insightful view on social expectations.

Watch his speech here:

II. Lalitesh Katragadda On Mapping The Modern World

In an initiative to kick start economies in poor countries- and potentially save a million lives from natural disasters, Lalitesh Katragadda begins to delineate the world of mapping, and how it can be expanded using a computer software program called Google Map Maker. Using 40 volunteers at Google, it allowed mapping over 1,23,000 km of road and over 3000 hospitals and relief stations in only four days. This breakthrough in technology is a key to assist the meager percent of the world that is properly mapped (only 15%). In his inspiring speech, he describes how the program will enable people to map what they know locally, which will make people more aware of small businesses, schools, stores and gas stations- offering a consolidated system of diagramming.

Watch his speech here:

III. Navi Radjou On Learning From Emerging Markets

Offering an atypical solution to innovation, strategy expert and author Navi Radjou offers a substitute to research and development with “Jugaad”. When translated from its Hindu word it means a “gusty art of improvising an effective solution using limited resources using a dash of ingenuity.” He points out how a prolific sum of money amounting to billions of dollars is spent in believing that it will engender innovation, however it is only fluid, non-rigid thinking that will allow it. Steering away from risks, and standardizing organizations to maintain an elitist and conformal code stifles creativity, according to this thinker. After being exposed to emerging markets in China, India, Japan etc. he explains it is a very improvised and unstructured approach used by CEO’s of companies.

Watch his speech here:

IV. Anand Giridhardas On The New India

In his introspective speech, New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas taps into his own personal experience living both in India and the United States to offer a comparative qualification between the two. He negates the “American dream” arguing that the class system and limited potential for upward mobility in matters of social hierarchy and career opportunities makes the United States no longer an ideal candidate for a place to achieve success. Shifting attention to India, a country that is emerging with its own revolution and me-centric nature, he points out how the improving economic growth makes India a more viable choice to fulfill dreams of accomplishment.

Watch his speech here:

V. Sugata Mitra On The Art of Self-Education

In an initiative to decode the art of self-instruction, Sugata Mitra’s youth education keynote explores how children in India equipped themselves with the necessary information after he installed an ATM with a computer screen in a slum. What followed this experiment was surprising, after he discovered that groups of children learned how to use the computers and Internet independently, devoid of any assistance from any teachers. Being children of different economic and social profiles, they share a common denominator of intuition, which Mitra believes teachers shouldn’t interfere with. According to him, any for assistance and structured learning process hinders the potential lesson and insights a child can gather from a situation.

Watch his speech here:

VI. Sugata Mitra On Education In The Cloud

In another of his insightful theories, Sugata Mitra discredits the need for people to go to school. His speech begins by describing education during England’s imperial reign- a period that issued standard workers who could be plugged into the bureaucratic system anywhere in the world, and still be able to function. For this, learned skills like handwriting needed to be honed because all records had to be written down. However, in today’s day and age, requirements have changed because the world has evolved with the infiltration of technology, and a standardized education structure isn’t needed anymore. In his thought-provoking keynote, he reasons his vision for the future with a few experiments, creating a strong argument.

Watch his speech here:

VII. Arvind Gupta On Transforming Trash Into Toys

Taking the concept of “building on what you already have” to an elevated level of demonstration, Arvind Gupta creates educational toys for children using discarded materials-including garbage.

With a background in design and being a motivational teacher, he used both these skills to his advantage to inspire children who have little to no hope of ever experiencing a formal education. He started several teaching programs for the poor in India in 1978, and invented the idea of engineering new toys from basic materials and scraps like pencils, straws, cardboard and Velcro to engage children in important lessons in science, design and geometry. He sheds some light on his philosophy for what it means to help people- it’s creating an intimate learning experience by living with people, and to help them understand what they know and build on what they already have.

Watch his speech here:

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