Society

At TEDxNapierBridgeWomen 2019, six women spoke in line with the theme, ‘Bold + Brilliant’

Film professor and gender activist, Uma Vangal at the event

Film professor and gender activist, Uma Vangal at the event   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

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From discussions on gender bias to videos of animal communication, TEDxNapierBridge Women’s latest edition brought forth the female perspective

What is the most elusive object in the universe? How do dogs speak to each other? How can Indian cinema be more balanced towards women? At TEDxNapierBridgeWomen 2019 held at Anna University, six women presented ideas, narratives and beliefs, in line with global theme ‘Bold + Brilliant’. According to Shyam Sundar, curator and licensee of TEDxNapierBridge, “We searched for women who have been doing phenomenal work in their field but have not been highlighted. With an abstract theme, we aimed to present a variety of perspectives, leaving the audience to form their own opinions.”

First up on the stage was Uma Vangal, a film professor and gender activist who presented a powerful talk on the portrayal of women in Indian cinema. Citing examples of scenes from Padayappa and Ghajini, the activist brought the regressive nature of movies to light while also showing how films like Jodha Akbar consist of powerful and positive representations. Extending the conversation around gender bias to maternity and childcare in India, independent journalist Nayantara Narayanan drew examples from forced hysterectomies and the exploitation of women. “Conversations around women’s health almost always revolve around reproductive health. What we fail to recognise is that seven out of 10 deaths in women are due to non-communicable diseases. In India, there is very little gender specific data for studies” she said.

However, the programme was not confined to women-centric narratives alone, a conscious decision made by the TEDx team. Sindhoor Pangal, a canine behaviourist from Bengaluru broke down the complex and nuanced topic of animal communication using videos and photos of her dog, Sheri. Illustrating how body language and facial expressions can be used interpret what canines are trying to say, she kept the audience in peals of laughter, concluding with a video of a horse and dog ‘speaking’ to each other. “What we don't understand, we fear. And what we fear, we destroy. Animal communication will help us to decipher nature better.”

The talks were also interspersed with a vibrant dance performance by Anartana, a dance troupe and The Spasht, an all-female acapella group that presented a contemporary twist to Carnatic music.

The second half of the event brought together stories from physics, parenting and acceptance. In her talk, scientist and high energy phenomenologist, D Indumathi bridged gaps between science, engineering and technology, performing experiments to demonstrate the straightforwardness of physics. Speaking on the properties of neutrinos, Indumathi elaborated on her team’s effort to build an IMO neutrino detector in India, which will witness R&D, technology and composition entirely in India. This was followed by Vaishali Bk, an educator and parent who believes that early learning and active parenting are vital to shaping the neuroplastic nature of a children’s mind. Weaving in anecdotes from her own experiences, she stressed on how respect for a child’s ability, communication, personal space, intelligence and perspective is key to their development.

The last to take the stage was Anjali Rajgopal, an identity advocate and entrepreneur who had a critical accident in 2002 that rendered her nearly blind. Narrating her journey through recovery, the actress spoke about how she maneuvered through pain while constantly questioning her identity. Are we who we see in the mirror or the ones in our heads? What happens to the identities others have crafted for us; personas that they would like us to be? Answering these questions, she remarked, “The search for identity is a constant quest with no particular destination. Often, it feels like I am riding shotgun in the journey, not knowing who the driver is. Now I have come to realise that my identity is a kaleidoscope of not only who I have been through the tough times, but also the easy.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 2:43:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/at-tedxnapierbridgewomen-2019-six-women-spoke-in-line-with-the-theme-bold-brilliant/article30253114.ece

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