Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology organized TEDxNSIT on April 12, 2015. The event saw individuals from different walks of life come together and talk about how they were bringing about a change in their own way. From using sports as a method of social engineering to teaching Hindi to foreigners to encourage social inclusion, the talks were both, educational as well as inspirational.
The event began with K Arumugam, an IIT Bombay alumnus. Born in a village and brought up in a humble household, Arumagam left his lucrative job to pursue his passion for hockey and founded the Hockey Citizen Group in 2008. He firmly believes that social engineering is an instrumental tool in inculcating values and providing a level playing field to all. “Sports runs on the fulcrum of level playing field,” iterated Mr. Arumugam in his talk.
Following Mr. Arumugam was Parul Seth Khanna, an Economics graduate from St Stephen’s. Ms. Khanna, founder of Micro Pension Fund, which aims to secure the future of domestic helps, talked about social security playing a vital role in social inclusive society. The employers of these domestic workers can help them set up an account which functions as a savings account that can be redeemed on retirement. Her motto is, “10 minutes of your life can change 20 years of your domestic help’s life.”
Next was Ankit Chadha, a graduate in History from Hindu College, who left his corporate job to get into reviving the lost art of storytelling called Dastangoi. He believes in the ideology that the spoken word is the ultimate truth in itself, that it is self-sufficient and propagative in nature. Recounting his experience of introduction to this art, he stated that street plays fascinated him. “The only thing you need in it is body, voice and story. No definite order or props and a receptive audience.” Working under the guidance of his mentor Mahmoud Farooqui, Ankit pressed upon the fact that stories are driven from culture and tradition.
Sajid Sharif, an IIT-Bombay and Stanford alumnus, was the next to pitch in with his thoughts. He is the founder of Good Fellows, a not for profit organization aiming to resolve problems related to social ecosystem, and stressed upon the fact that power of one and operational strategy in NGO’s.
Anand Shankar, a renowned photojournalist, left his career in journalism in 2010 to become a full time social worker and dedicating his time to the village Kalap situated in the Garhwal region of Himalayas. Shankar, a social entrepreneur, deployed all his competent skills to bring about a revolutionary change in the village. Referring himself as an “evangelist for ruralisation,” Shankar said, “Social work for me was like jumping into the deep end of a pool without knowing how to swim.” He further added, “My mission is to give every such person a life jacket.”
Guneet Kaur, an Oxford and Berkley law graduate, has devoted her life to rescue wrongly incarcerated people in the Naxal dominated regions of Chhatisgarh like Dantewada and Jagdalpur. She highlighted upon the fact that Indian jails are majorly overcrowded especially due to falsely charged citizens being imprisoned and kept as hostages. She also pointed out the critical conditions of our jails in terms of being understaffed and medically unequipped.
The last to grace the dais was Pallavi Singh. A teacher, Ms. Singh owns and runs an institute by the name of Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India which helps the expats to not only learn the Hindi language but also instigates cultural and traditional values of India in them. She firmly believes that language is a strong medium for social inclusion.
TEDxNSIT 2015 came to an end with a performance by Crescendo, the music society of NSIT, humming the likes of John Lennon and songs adhering to the theme of the event.
Guest post by Rohit Manchanda