Innovation, compassion, celebration

At TEDxBangalore
Last Updated 04 October 2015, 18:53 IST

For 18 soul-stirring minutes, 18-year-old Chandani reigned over TEDxBangalore 2015. Her poignant speech about her journey from a toiling childhood to a reporter for Balaknama, a Hindi magazine for street and working children, had the packed auditorium in tears. That touching portrayal earned her the TEDxBangalore best speaker award.

Pumped up by comedian Sundeep Rao’s witty takes, the Deccan Herald sponsored event here on Sunday had switched to high gear rightaway. But Chandani’s entry with an earthy introduction shifted the focus decisively to her life and work. “I have been working since I was five. The poverty at home forced me to work with my father, and when he died, the future looked even bleaker,” she recalled.

But in 2009, Chandani met her game-changing mission, Balaknama. “Do we ever ask a street child about how he / she looks at life? Balaknama now gives them a platform to tell the world that they too can get ahead in life, can do something.”

Today, Chandani is one of the magazine’s 30 reporters telling such stories in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Empowered by her missionary role, Chandani sees herself as an anchor or RJ tomorrow. The audience cheered in unison.

Kids who code
The next speaker, Yonatan Raz had a mission too, but one linked to children, innovation and technology. He found his goal in the Kano computer kits he designed to help children make their own stuff. It was about combining learning with fun.

“Make, learn and play with technology. Not just consume” was Yonatan’s motto.
Spreading the Kano tools across 86 countries, Yonatan could fashioned a new crop of kids who could code, put together those kits to create games, music and design.

Tracing issues of female sexuality, LoveTreats co-founder, Ute Wiemer laced her TEDx speech with a video commercial that celebrated women’s virginity for male satisfaction. She had been prepared for the stereotypical imagery of Indian women, but not the male obsession with modifying the female form. Wiemer said with justified sarcasm: “Indian sexual wellness products are all about the guy. The most desirable aspect is her virginity!” 

Empowering women to explore sexuality in a safe and open space was Wiemer’s plea. This, she said, was possible through “sex education, respecting women’s choice, protesting the objectification of women and making women part of the equation.”

Technology with tradition
For Italian artist, architect and designer, Arturo Vittori, real world problems could be solved through a smart mix of cutting edge technologies and ancient traditions. At TEDxBangalore, Vittori talked about his pathbreaking Warka Water project in Ethiopia.

“There, women and children walk kilometers carrying water, without shoes. The Warka Water project, which had a 10m high tower made with active local participation, helped them collect rain, harvest fog and dew through condensation technique,” Vittori explained, his talk peppered with arresting animated visuals.

Aathma ruled the music stage, with a choreographed take on “How to write a song.” They talked rhythms, vocals, branding, and packaging. Their “Mysuru Bengaluru” was a culmination. What came next floored the audience with its visual impact: Natasha Singh and her generative music, where lines and curves of monument contours gave an architecture to sound.

Urban farmer Vani Murthy’s pioneering efforts in garbage segregation and composting, and Rohit Varma’s “Half a flush saves a tiger, 36.5 crore litres of water” statement did strike a chord with the audience. But what made them stand up was specially-abled business analyst Ashwin Karthik impassionated plea for empathy. On a wheel-chair, when Karthik thanked his mother and friend Palak for helping him become an engineer first and land up a job, a deafening applause filled the hall.


(Published 04 October 2015, 18:53 IST)

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