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Wear your thinking cap

Narration Through Dance Anita Ratnam

Narration Through Dance Anita Ratnam  

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‘TEDx KCG' sparked deep discussions as innovators came together to share their success stories

Innovative ideas burst out of KCG College of Technology when it recently held a Tedx event on its campus. Thinkers, entertainers and successful innovators shared their experiences, leaving the audience thinking.

TEDx, is a local, self-organised event that brings together people to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks videos and speakers combine to spark deep discussions and connections.

Three generations

I walk in on the second session, just as danseuse Anita Ratnam begins to narrate the story of the three women who influenced her life. This transcendental, narrative dance explores the lives of Saraswathi (her grandmother), Leelavathi (her mother) and Aryambika (her daughter). “I'm here, I'm now,” says Anita, through expressive, kohl-lined eyes and fluid movements, “I'm not an abstract idea.”

TEDx KCG's speakers are from diverse areas — from India's youngest CEO Ashwin Ramesh (who started a business when he was 15) and musician Marti Bharath to photographer and filmmaker Sebastian Cortes.

And in a timeframe of 18 minutes, these entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and dancers not just share their stories of success but leave messages that ring loud and clear.

“There was a girl from Bihar who wanted to be a designer and her father couldn't understand why she wanted to go to Delhi for that. But in the end, he decided to send her,” Uma Prajapati, who graduated out of NIFT, Delhi, shares her own life story. “I was finally doing what I wanted. I was independent, in a good job, and making good money.

But I wasn't happy. When I went to Auroville for a 15-day project, I stayed back and started searching for India through textiles, and searching myself for answers. In 2004, tsunami struck, and I began another search: ‘What can you do for these women?' Uma became the brain behind the ‘Tsunamika' project, an all-Indian initiative against plastic, where Tsunamika dolls were made using waste, by women affected in the tsunami.She now runs Upasana, a design studio in Auroville.

Ashwin Ramesh talks of failing over and over again. “You don't need to succeed in the normal way to make it big,” he says. “There are other ways.

A string of failures can also lead to success. I can fail spectacularly and still make it big.”

Dharmesh Jadeja

Dharmesh Jadeja is an architect and a calligraphist. Born in Porbundar, he began to look at architecture from a very young age. “Our town was constructed by a king, and is one of the finest examples of modern Indian architecture. I think Indian designs are very futuristic. If you look at any area, people will build the most suitable kind of housing for that particular place. This is when I began to take a keen interest in my surroundings and its architecture,” he says. Dharmesh discovered Auroville in 1992, and then started ‘buildaur', a design studio that uses eco-friendly and traditional elements in its projects. “I liked the idea of Auroville when I visited it in the 1990s. I found it exciting because it was a community of progressive people. My design studio operates out of Auroville and we concentrate on simple designs. Indian doesn't mean just minimalist, we must also look into the energy aspect and the social impact. Some of the old structures in the country are way better than a lot of those constructed now. At Buildaur we focus on bringing traditional technology to the forefront.”

Calligraphy developed on the side, when Dharmesh was fascinated by handwritten letters. “I've been doing calligraphy for 25 years now. I was always fascinated by people who have a good handwriting, and realised that while a lot of cultures such as the Chinese weave calligraphy into their tradition, no one does that here except in the case of Urdu. Of course, people barely write now, after the advent of computers,” he explains.

Dharmesh specialises in the Devanagari script and was recently invited to be a part of the residency at the University of Sunderland in the U.K. “For me, calligraphy is an abstract form with a relation between the phonetic and the writing. My main interest is in the Devanagiri script because there aren't many who know it. Most people mistake it for Chinese because they can't imagine calligraphy being Indian. Calligraphy as an art is slowly dying. There are very few people practising it. All we can hope for is a revival soon.”

Paul Basil

Villgro does exactly what its name signifies — help villages grow. Paul Basil, the brain behind this start-up set it up as a platform for entrepreneurs working on rural technology.

“We identify people who can solve the problems of the world,” says Paul. “We don't believe only the government or an MNC can do it. Every individual who wants to make a difference can.”

Villgro identifies, funds and mentors aspiring entrepreneurs. “There are about 6,00,000 villages in India, and we must target from the root of the problems. It could be anything small — from finding a non-intrusive anaemia-testing machine to areca plate making machines and cooking stoves. There are so many areas in which people can play a big role. A lot of entrepreneurs are coming forward now, but this is only a recent phenomenon because Indians, over the years, haven't been bought up to question authority. We don't ask ‘why', we don't discover or understand deep enough. That's why we haven't created solutions so far,” he says.

Villgro, through 50 entrepreneurs, has touched 4,00,000 lives. “I'm a trained engineer who didn't like machines. I looked at people suffering, and wondered who will help them if we don't. I didn't want to start an NGO that would collect funds, but an enterprise that would solve the problems at hand. I guess once you decide to take the plunge, you start seeing, reading and experiencing things that will help you find ideas. But as in everything, this has to start at home, with parents encouraging children to study and inculcate an inner desire to ask a very important question: ‘why'.”

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 12:42:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/wear-your-thinking-cap/article2987998.ece

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