If you are on Quora, a question-and-answer site, then chances are you must have stumbled upon the answers of Balaji Vishwanathan. With close to 3,57,000 followers on Quora, Balaji Viswanathan, CEO of Invent (humanoid robots for customer interaction), is the most followed person on Quora. He also has over 3,700 Quora answers to a diverse range of questions in his name.

HashInclude, the computer science society of Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) and Autonomi, the robotics society of Cluster Innovation Centre organized a meet up with him on Monday, 28th August 2017. The insightful event which began at 2 PM on 28th August 2017 was attended by an enthusiastic crowd.

Unlike, conventional meet-ups the event did not feature any speech by the guest. Instead, Mr Balaji Viswanathan spent time addressing the questions from the audience, which was appreciated by students. In the course of question and answers, he spoke about his career as a software engineer at Microsoft Head Quarters, Live Labs, and Windows Phone. He also spoke about his return to India and tryst with his now-successful start-ups. Talking about ideas and innovations he said, “Every great idea looks crazy to people, you just have to pursue them seriously. Right now as a student you have time, the biggest luxury in the world, to pursue your passions”

Kirti Krishan, a student who attended the event said, “It was more of a Quora like question and answer session than a normal talk, literally. There wasn’t any pretentious motivational public speaking. My take away from this session would be his entrepreneurial advice that- patience and trust in your venture is the only way for success”

Utkarsh Mittal, one of the organisers said, “We wanted to invite Viswanathan since he is currently the CEO of Inventor Robotics, which aims to revolutionise the field of AI enabled hardware in India. He has also founded and been a part of various IT, Fintech and Edtech based ventures. All of this resonates with the students of CIC. Besides, meeting the most followed Quora user is anyway exciting.”


You can find the live recording of the event here.

Feature Picture Credits: HashInclude
Niharika Dabral
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Amidst various kinds of literature that we come across, one of the least known is oral literature. This is a rich form of literature which contains stories, histories and traditions that are passed on across generations orally. This literature which is mostly prevalent among natives and tribal communities is dying a slow death in the present era. In an attempt to conserve this form of literature, the students of B.A. (Humanities and Social Sciences) are creating awareness on orality via several projects, workshops and lectures. As part of this initiative, Sohail Hashmi, an eminent historian, academician and film maker delivered a talk on ‘Delhi –Forgotten Histories and Imagined Histories’ in Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) on 6th October, 2016. This talk was a result of a collaborative effort by two ongoing projects in CIC, ‘Digital Repositories of Oral Stories’ and ‘Invisible Heritage: The historical gardens of Delhi’.

The talk began with Mr. Hashmi asking audience to separate mythology from history. He said, “In China there is a popular tale of a flying monkey. People tell this story to their children, but no one believes it to be real and in India, you all know who the flying monkey is”. He went ahead to dismiss some popular claims that is made by people of the ruling party at the centre and said “A quila in Delhi that is popularly known to be constructed by Prithviraj Chauhan, was actually never constructed by him.” He went ahead to prove his point by providing several evidences, one of them being that the plasters found on the wall did not exist at the time Prithviraj Chauhan ruled. Many other beliefs were dismissed by him among which several were from the book ‘Prithviraj Raso’ written by Chand Bardai, the court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan.

He went ahead to deconstruct several popular beliefs of the Mughal period saying ‘Jodhabai was not the wife of Akbar but his mother.’ He then clarified that the historian who recorded the Mughal history of India confused Akbar’s mother for his wife. Several other references are found which prove that it was Harkha Bae, who was Akbar’s wife and not Jodha Bai.

Shipra, one of the students who attended the talk said “The lecture inspired us to question even some of our own beliefs. There are many things which we all believe blindly. As students we should question everything that we come across.” The talk ended with the audience asking questions about the concept of Charbagh, the legendary history of Saraswati River and the Iron Pillar at Sarnath, all of which were answered by him very eloquently.

Srivedant Kar

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Image Credits: Dushyant Yadav

The English Literary Society of Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) organised a talk by Dr. Shirshendu Chakrabarti on 8th September,2016. The talk was based on the topic, “The Eighteenth Century City : The Insanity and the Insane”. It was chaired by the college principal, Dr. Babli Moitra Saraf, who is also a senior member of the English Department.

Dr. Saraf, while welcoming Dr. Chakrabarti introduced the audience to his credentials. Dr. Chakrabarti has been teaching in the English Department of St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi; for over 40 years, and is a globally known figure in the English Literature sphere. He has authored a book on Tagore called ‘Towards an Ethics and Aesthetics of the Future: Rabindranath Tagore 1930-41’. He has also written various scholarly articles on 18th century, and has now devoted himself to the study of Tagore.

The talk started by discussing the major aspects in which the city grew and attained modernity. He then talked about the reality of the 18th century, that is, the ‘Polarisation of the Polite and the Popular’. Under popular literature, he elaborated on the separation of ‘Sanity and Insanity, and how this idea of separation finds its space in the 18th century city. During the course of the talk, Dr. Chakrabarti made various references to London and the Shakespearean City. He further elaborated on the Shakespearean City and its social aspects. The talk moved further down in the discussion of squalor and crime in the 18th century city.

Towards the end, a question and answer session was held, in which the literature enthusiasts of the college and guest attendees delved into a deeper discussion of the subject. The gathering and members of the IPCW LitSoc then expressed their gratitude by a standing ovation and round of applause.

Image Credits: Prof. Kanav Gupta from IPCW

Priyal Mahtta

Youth Forum on Foreign Policy recently launched its initiative ‘M.P. Engagement Series’ which is a unique programme aimed at bridging the gap between concerned MPs with the youth of our nation. As part of an outreach session under the MP Engagement Series, they hosted Senator Ellen Roberts of Colorado and Representative Paul Thissen of Minnesota at the American Center, New Delhi on 5th October 2015.

The theme of the event was “US Elections: Campaigns, Processes and Procedures.”  Students from DU, JNU and IIT-D participated in a healthy discussion on the US electoral process, among several other matters.

The session gave the students an opportunity to learn about the different aspects of a successful political campaign meanwhile drawing parallels between the electoral processes in India and the US. The US State Legislators shared their experiences in the office and shared insights into the challenges they faced early in their careers in their respective domains.

When the floor was open for questions, students asked about sources of campaign finance, redistricting and the electoral college in the US. The State Legislators also discussed the top agendas and issues for the  2016 United States Presidential elections. Further discussions revolved around additional measures the government takes to engage its youth in the political process.

Owing to the fact that the US elections are so extensively followed globally, the students were interested to know more about the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s nomination, Donald Trump. “Mr. Trump is riding a wave of enthusiasm; it is a wave of protest. He’s saying such outrageous things, but people are identifying with it,” said Ms. Roberts.

The role of social media and technology in a successful election campaign was also briefly discussed. Mr. Thissen explained how India’s global perception is changing partly because of Mr. Modi’s international trips which is encouraging international investors to venture the Indian markets.

The session concluded with a quick review of the intricacies of the American electoral process. The students left with a clearer grasp of American polls, and a better understanding of the process overall.

DU Beat is the official media partner of YFFP.

Featured Image Credits: Paurush Bhardwaj

Surbhi Arora

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