Inspiring figures on one stage

Informative Seminar

TEDx, an interactive seminar conducted by Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, was recently hosted on the college campus.

Strumming away: Benny Prasad with his bongo guitar.The seminar had a wide variety of speakers, each excelling in his or her own field, to speak to the students about his or her journey, tactics to achieve success and share a few inspirational anecdotes. The auditorium was packed throughout the day, and some of the speakers even entertained the students with brief performances. The event truly lived up to its tagline — challenging the conventional.

Among the speakers for the day were well-known names such as Tanmay Bhat, the stand-up comedian; Babar Ali, the youngest headmaster in the world; Bhakti Sharma, a talented swimmer and Dr Benny Prasad, who invented the bongo guitar.

Prasad’s speech was particularly inspiring. Originally from Bangalore, he confessed that he was delighted to be back.

“I’m glad to be back in this City, where I was born and brought up,” he said. Having been treated to wrong medication during his youth, he never expected to live very long and confessed that he had contemplated suicide at the age of 16. Over the years, however, this talented musician has been to every single country — including Antarctica— performed for audiences there. So much so, that his passport now resembles a brick.

He also invented the bongo guitar, a peculiar instrument with a built in drum that he played for the students. The piece, called ‘Shout to the Lord’, was one which he had played at the Olympic Games as well. He manipulated the instrument in an unconventional manner, at times simply tapping the frets to produce lovely tunes.

Another inspiration speech was by Babar Ali, the youngest headmaster in the world. Babar, who is from West Bengal, was struck by the urge to do something for society — when he was in the fifth standard. He began to spend his after-school hours teaching neighbourhood children the matter he had learnt in school that day, and by the age of sixteen, his school had eight hundred students and several teachers — who were all school-going students. “I was inspired by Swami Vivekananda. I believe in the importance of education,” said Ali, at the seminar.

Another interesting session was that of Snake Shyam, the legendary auto driver-turned-wildlife conservationalist from Mysore. His name is Balasubramanya, but his grandmother nicknamed him Shyam and the prefix ‘Snake’ was added after he began rescuing snakes from neighbourhood houses.

He still recalls the first snake he rescued. “I saw a girl in front of a house, who said a cobra had entered. I lifted a stone and found a three-foot cobra under it. I remembered a movie I’d seen in which a snake had been rescued, and picked it up with a stick, later released it in a mango grove,” he recollects. Since then, he’s rescued a whopping 50,000 snakes. With plenty of networking breaks, the seminar proved to be a huge success.

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