October 11, 2010

#TedxPune - Truly Inspiring Better Citizenship - Great Event

As I sat there waiting for #TEDxPune to start, I was looking around and thought to myself. How many people out here have come to truly attend a session that will talk about inspiring better citizenships. TEDxPune is not just about inspiring citizenship, but it's about bringing the most important things around you to reality. There are so many things that I did not know before the event and certainly felt enlightened, truly. I mean the speakers that were lined up were simply inspiring. The thoughts that they had and the ideas they wanted to share with us were certainly awesome!

What can an Idea bring about? An Idea can spread like wildfire. How do we do it though? Well most importantly the question is of the willingness! Yes, there is an Idea that you think of! But what do you really do about it? Do you ever, think of  mapping the idea to achieve your goals? Well, you don't need a stir to be able to do that. This is what I realized after I attended #TedxPune!

The conference started by a welcome note by my friend and the curator Mr. Abhishek Suryawanshi. Then it was Mr. Lalit, who asked us if we were hungry? Well, hungry that we were, he was talking about satisfying our hunger with some food for thought. And that he did indeed... A certain food for thought that made me think... What am I doing to make sure that my ideas are being heard. What am I doing to stand out and make a change.

With the first speaker, M/s Meera Sanyal, talked us through her experience as a Banker and an independent candidate to South Mumbai constituency. She  went through a great process when she decided to take a sabbatical from her work life and stand as a candidate in her constituency. Were you aware that you can also stand for elections through your constituency. We have a right to make that change. She took upon herself to make that change! What's the first thing that she should do? You'll probably say, go around the city and ask for votes. Well you are mistaken. She did not decided to do that. Instead she went near a slum around her area to understand the process, lives and reality of the cause that she supported.  During this period, she told us about a couple of interesting stories.

A woman once came to her and told her, "I won't vote for you. I'd vote for the criminals instead" Surprised that someone came to her upfront and told her about her views, she asked her why?

To which she got an answer, "Well, because if something happens to my daughter, if someone takes her away, then it is these criminals who would get her back within a day." True isn't it? With movies like Sarkar, depicting this very fact, and real life stories like these making a point that she made. Truly, she said, state is not that efficient in getting justice, but these criminals so to speak are able to. One such learning that she shared during her entire process. But the epitoma of her talk was a very simple question that we must ask ourselves... which she depicted via another conversation she had with her father, who was an admiral in the navy. His belief is, if we depend on state to provide us security, we will need 1.2 billion policemen for all of us. He inspired the thought of individuals becoming policemen. Yes, each and every individual can bring about a change. Do we really ever think about this one?

Then it was Mr. Surendra Shroff. He had a very interesting style of narration. Well, he showed us truly how easy and inexpensive it is to actually use Newspaper bags. He told us a story of how, he taught blind people in Lonavala, orphans in Pondicherry.  What a truly inspiring and an amazing Idea that he wants to spread. And in fact he gave us a great bunch of analogies and anecdotes of how he has managed to at least reach out to 10,000 people. He believes in the idea that these 10,000 could be billions if you and I supported those institutions who sell these newspaper bags. They are not inexpensive as well. In fact, they also support around 15KG, which he showed via a live demonstration. In fact, one of the most interesting things that he said was about how, Times of India donated over 10,000 tonnes of newspaper for this project of his. Kudos to them.

Then there was Ms. Vineeta Deshmukh who talked about her individual movement against DOW chemicals, yes the same company involved in Bhopal Gas Tragedy. How DOW Chemicals was forced out of Pune, where they came on pretext of research and were actually using their industry / plant to manufacture and in turn, polluting rivers nearby. How did she do it? Simple, something we all call RTI (Right To Information) act. Yes, she as an individual, made a difference.

All in all #TedxPune was certainly a collection of Ideas that were truly worth sharing, be it Mr. Shroff, Ms. Sanyal, Ms. Vineeta Deshmuk;s thoughts of Governance or for that matter the thoughts of Mr. Rajendra on Ganga river, Mr. Modak's talk about using a helmet and showcasing what is important than the beauty of the bandit queens as I call them! Besides that the beautiful videos that they chose on the day that matched the theme of TedxPune of inspiring better cities! Mr. Vinod Bodhankar, who helps change in the city by making a change in me. Yes his project was eco-restoration. Showed us how they made a change by physically going and making a change by going out in the city and cleaning up for better tomorrow.  Very good quote he mentioned, one by Mahatma Gandhi, "We must be the change that we want to see in others."  Very true. So were the ideas by Mr. Vijay Kumhar, a noted RTI activist. One who got the chief minister to resign.  But, last but not least, a really beautiful message that was sent through the classical dance, art of India by Neha Bhatnagar, the same Neha who performed at the opening of the Commonwealth Games. Well, certainly strong emotions by her to showcase a message that she had in mind. One of change, one of fighting through various odds through the power of dance. I've always felt that dance and martial arts for that matter, are truly a way of life. They have such power that very few really understand the true purpose of one learning these art forms. In fact, one can learn everything that you want to, about life... through this form of art. As rightly expressed during a balle where Neha narrated and enacted a story of Neelu Sahay, how this dancer fought all odds and made this country proud. Yes, that through the strong medium of art. What we watched here was something that we will remember for quite a while. Strong, yet very soft means of expressing a message that we all have heard umpteen times, yet the impact was much greater. Kudos to Neha and her way of life! What a certainly exciting ending to #TedxPune!

Every thing was relevant to the theme and truly opened my eyes on why inspiring better cities really is important! It was truly an evening that I cherished and I'm sure everyone else did too.

One core message. #TedxPune Inspiring better citizenship is not by bringing a  huge revolution, but as I had stated earlier, 'Making a Small Change' A small change that can impact small but meaningful differences. Every speaker reinstated that fact. One such important lesson that we all have learn't through many revolutions that were stirred by none other than us, the common men! What better location or venue to host such an event but Symbiosis Vishwabhavan. The place where you are greeted by a statue of R.K Laxman's common man. What do you think??? Is that a sign??  Well, yes, you can bring about a change!!