All TEDx events have in common:
+ TED’s format of short talks on a wide range of subjects
+ Inclusion of at least two recorded TED talks
+ Lack of a commercial, religious or political agenda
+ A short introductory video in which TED Curator Chris Anderson explains the TEDx program
TEDx Chennai was held on Sunday, the 29th of November at the ICSR auditorium from 9 am to 6 pm. It was the Sunday right before the F slot end semester examination and that perhaps offers an explanation for the dismal number of applications received by the TEDx team for the ten passes offered to IITM students. With talks from eminent personalities from all over the country from a diverse set of fields, the event offered a unique opportunity to be exposed to and establish contact with these people.
The programme started with Anil Srinivasan and Sikkil Gurucharan performing two of their pieces with their new fusion art where classical South Indian vocals accompany classical piano. The crowd broke out into loud applause as they got off stage and what followed then were fourteen minutes each of a whirlwind of characters. From Romulus Earl Whitaker, who gave an entertaining talk on his life at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and sent the message across that snakes are perhaps not as evil as your grandma told you in your stories, to Kavita Baliga, faculty member of Oscar winner A.R. Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory with her story of how she overcame throat cancer and then sang some opera and left the stage to a standing ovation. From Jeeva Raghunath, a professional storyteller tried to connect everyone to the child within to Satyabrata Dam’s stories with his adventures on mountaineering and his dry wit. From N.Vittal, who has served as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, with his witty talk on corruption in the system to Sharadha Ramanathan introducing the audience to the identity in Indian cinema . The Art of Life, easy farming techniques, BPO opportuinities to the unemployed in rural Tamin Nadu, cihld empowerment programmes in Bangalore and numerous other topics followed. Two video lectures by Hans Rosling making sense of lots of data using gapminder and Eve Ensler with her talk on violence against women raised the whole program to another level altogether.
The networking sessions were also very enriching with entrepreneurs, NGO activists, students and the speakers themselves breaking bread together in the ICSR dining area. With various new ideas being generated there itself and lots of new connections established, those sessions were a great success.
As the evening ended, the TEDx Chennai team headed by Kiruba Shankar promised the next TEDx event on 10/10/10 to a jam packed ICSR auditorium, with non-invited people also making their way in. The familiar sight of ICSR without standing space returned to haunt an otherwise smooth and awesome experience.
Chris Anderson, curator of TED, spoke to the TOI about TED and their upcoming ventures in India. The interview can be found here.