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TEDxGateway 2018: Raghu Rai, Shanta Rau Barriga, Gitanjali Rao, others share transforming ideas at 10th edition of the event

Featuring four sessions packed with ideas on politics, humanities, environment and a plethora of other global and national issues, TEDxGateway hosted its 10th edition at DOME@NSCI Mumbai on 2 December, 2018.

The TEDx talks kicked off with global strategist and author Parag Khanna speaking to those gathered on Asia’s future, the subject of his upcoming book titled, The Future is Asian. According to Khanna, who addressed in some measure the continent’s growth through history, the correct way to understand how Asia is evolving is through waves of mutually reinforcing growth, rather than blocks of one empire dominating the other. Tracing Japan’s exponential growth following World War II, he said that it was its industrial model that inspired other Asian countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China to grow.

Khanna, however, added that this is not where the history stops, rather the greatest wave of Asia’s growth is “just getting going.” To explain his view, Khanna drew upon the recent Belt and Road initiative or the Silk Road which he referred to as, “the largest coordinated infrastructure investment programme in the history of the world.”

According to him, Asia is integrating like never before and “what belts and road will ultimately do is return Asia to its natural state of multipolarity, a respectful degree of autonomy among Asia’s proud civilisations.”

 TEDxGateway 2018: Raghu Rai, Shanta Rau Barriga, Gitanjali Rao, others share transforming ideas at 10th edition of the event

Shanta Rau Barriga, director of the disability division at Human Rights Watch and photojournalist Raghu Rai were among the speakers at the 10th edition of TEDxGateway 2018. Image via TEDxGateway

Also a part of the first session of Gateway was Shantha Rau Barriga who talked about the stigma associated with mental health by illustrating her own research experiences. According to Barriga, people with mental health disabilities are often the victims of exclusion and isolation.

Even as she declared that things are changing and that people with disabilities are driving this change, she said that mental illness continues to be a taboo primarily due to the actions and beliefs of society. She gave three reasons for these: shame, fear, pity. “In India, for example, parents might hide the fact that one child has a disability because it might jeopardise the marriage prospects for other children.

“Fear. Fear of what we don’t know or understand, fear of someone who looks different or acts differently. Fear of what others might think,” she said.

“Pity. I often hear people say that someone is suffering from a disability. I have met so many people with disabilities around the world who are not suffering because of their physical or mental health condition. The suffering, the isolation, the abuse, the neglect they experience is because of how the society treats them.”

Journalist Govindraj Ethiraj, architect Sameep Padora, educator Seema Bansal, innovator Dhruv Patel and photographer Levon Biss also spoke during the first session of the event.

The second session of TEDxGateway hosted the former president of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim in conversation with Ralph Simon followed by the 12-year-old Haaziq Kazi who spoke extensively about plastic debt and its effect on marine life.

He explained the function of his invention ERVIS, designed to clean up the waste dumped in the ocean, and that it is in effect divided into chambers that segregate different kinds of oceanic waste. “Just imagine ERVIS to be a gigantic vacuum cleaner with cleaning tubes attached to many dust bags,” he said.

Also among the line-up for the second session were speakers Tom Wujec, Binish Desai, Prashant Warier and Madhumita Murgia.

The third session of the talks opened with a performance by Maati Baani, who collaborated with the Mongolian Music band Anda Union to create a blend of Hindustani with strains of folk tunes.

The session featured photographer Raghu Rai who explained the purpose of photography to be about capturing the time we will in.

“If journalism is the first draft of history then photo journalism is the witness to that history,” he noted.

He also highlighted the idea that while digital technology has transformed and simplified picture taking, there has also been a change in mindset.

According to Rai, today, “The only missing aspect in the photograph is the heart, the power and the heartfelt response to the world we live in.”

“You know it’s said a good photograph is worth a 1,000 words. A 1,000 words can be a lot of noise. How about some silence? Because for me the greatest work of art, photography, film or music is the one that restores silence in you, a meditative experience that restores you to yourself,” he concluded.

Horticulturist Dnyaneshwar Bodke also took to the stage in this session to speak about his initiative, Abhinav Farmers Club that works towards sustainable agriculture. Peace and conflict researcher Shahnaaz Khan discussed individual hate crime and sexual and identity-based violence as an attack on a community as a whole.

Also read: Horticulturist Dnyaneshwar Bodke shares his ideas on sustainable farming ahead of his TEDxGateway 2018 talk

In the fourth and last session of TEDxGateway 2018, speakers Mihir Shah, Gitanjali Rao, Shabana Basij-Rasikh and IPS officer Harssh Poddar also discussed their ideas.

Rao, a the13-year-old scientist and innovator, focused on innovation, describing it as a phenomenon which does not need a big R&D budget or a lot of resources, only the genuine drive and determination to make a difference in the community. Rao also drew the attention of the audience to the scarcity of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM. “Change needs all of us,” she said and pointed out that unfortunately there are fewer girls in STEM fields, not for want of capability but by all indications, due to the lack of motivation and support.

Perhaps the only man in uniform at the event, Poddar spoke about his calling, which was something greater than fear: duty.

“And nowhere is duty more tested than in situations where our entire society is seized with widespread, violent fury,” he said.

Poddar was delivering a talk on police and public relationship in the country and said that we need and deserve a police force that understands India, that understands religion, caste, politics, agriculture and it is only then that we can hope to be the largest democracy human history has ever seen.

The curator of the 10th edition of TEDxGateway, Yashraj Akashi, remarked towards the close of the event on the growth of TEDx from video stories to live events and said, “As we look at the wideness of the platform, what keeps us moving every day is to look at the depth of it, is to look at not only how far we go but how beneath can we go and fetch these ideas.”

Announcing his ideas for the future of Gateway, he said, “We are going to find real ideas, real heroes, insights from inspiring people that really need to go on stage.”

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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2019 17:14:33 IST