Friday, July 29, 2016

My First TED Talk: TEDx IIT Guwahati

This is for all those people out there who wish to live their dream, but for some reason choose not to…Hopefully, this post will charge your belief system with some positivity.

Earlier this year, I gave my first TED talk at the TEDx event organized by IIT Guwahati. Located by the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, I was one among 6 speakers who had come to share their life story. This TEDx event  themed ‘Pushing the limits’ unfolded in the lush green campus of IIT Guwahati on a foggy winter morning where I was the youngest speaker. Even though technically I was one among 6 TED speakers at one of India’s most prestigious institutions, I was a tad nervous as this was my first TED talk and I was amidst some really successful individuals. Giving me company were the following personalities: an extremely successful actress, a man with 120 innovations to his name, a honorary research professor, a social activist and a lady who has been fighting human trafficking in the North East since she was 17 years old. As you can see, it was quite a power packed and diverse bunch.

I am just a simple guy who loves to travel and who turned it into an active lifestyle and career. However, these 5 other fellow speakers were not only pushing their limits, but they were working for the betterment of society. As I was the last of the 6 speakers at this TEDx event, I was privileged to listen to some of India’s kindest people from the front seat and got to interact with them at close quarters. Each one had their own unique story, but one thing ran common through all of them…a strong belief system, hard work and the willingness to live their dream. And all of it left me starry eyed and with a sense of happiness…that I was one among them and that I did choose the path less trodden. I hope all these TED talks inspire you to push your limits and live your dream, whatever it might be.

My Talk – Do What you Love
I don’t know how many of you know my background. I am a middle class Tamil Brahmin boy who was born into an orthodox family and who grew up in a small town in East India with an upbringing that dictated the necessity of good education, good job and slowly making your way to a comfortable life. Like most regular Indians, I did just that and some would say that I did pretty well at that. In spite of having achieved the so called measures of success, I felt empty within and my journey as a travel blogger began there. I started traveling to find a way to cover this emptiness. Soon, it became my way of living and a career. Of course, I had my fair share of failures and I had to pick myself up quite a few times after falling flat on my face, but it was so much fun and I would do it again without battling an eyelid. This talk titled ‘Do What you Love’ talks about this story of mine, why I think travel is the best learning ecosystem, why I think it is essential to fail and why I think it is perfectly alright to chase your dream, however stupid or crazy it might be. I hope you enjoy the talk!

Sanjoy Hazarika – Boat of Hope

Sanjoy Hazarika is a honorary research fellow at Centre for Policy Research and holds the Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew Chair at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. Hailing from Assam, Dr. Hazarika is an active documentary film maker and has worked towards many causes in the North East of India. This talk of his titled ‘Boat of Hope’ is about how he and his friends created a mini pharmacy and hospital on boat to help the people of Assam who lived on the islands of the Brahmaputra and who had no access to even basic medicines and healthcare. He started with just a dream and after a lot of hard work managed to provide medical care through a simple boat that floated on the Brahmaputra from island to island. A very touching story!

Seema Biswas – Taking Bold Roles and Challenges in Indian Cinema

Seema Biswas is the lady who played the character of ‘Phoolan Devi’ in the 1994 super hit movie ‘Bandit Queen’ directed by Shekhar Kapur. She is known for the strong roles she plays in so called controversial movies. This talk of hers is about how she evolved from a simple village girl who loved to dance like her mother and went on to join theatre and then mainstream movies. This is her story of how she survived the insults of the people of her village, the hard life of theatre and the life in Kolkata and Mumbai. An amazing story!

Uddhab Bharali

This man is a serial innovator. He has more than 118 patents to his name.  He makes very limited money, but he doesn’t care. All he wants to do is create innovations that serve mankind and animal kind. Meet Uddhab Bharali, a man of short stature, but of tall laurels. He has been featured on the Discovery Channel, is a recipient of the ‘President’s Grassroots Innovation Award’ and many other felicitations. As an engineer, I immediately fell in love with his innovations that cost not more than 50 or 100 rupees. Be it a simple fork based paddy seeder, an artificial tea cup holder for an amputee, a prosthetic leg for a disabled dog, cheap wheel chairs or a pomegranate de-seeder, his innovations are simple, to the point, meant to serve humanity and really cheap. This is one person the whole of India needs to stand up and notice. We need many individuals like him.

The video is yet to be uploaded. I will share it here as soon as it goes live.


Ravindranath ji is one of those un-tiring social activists. He is an important member of the Barefoot college in Rajasthan. His talk was about how he turned flood ravaged regions in Assam into successful villages and communities by creating new and alternative livelihoods. He is one of those people who works towards creating training systems and successful livelihood options for the so called failures in society.

The video is yet to be uploaded. I will share it here as soon as it goes live.

Hasina Kharbhih

This lady has married human trafficking with traditional fashion. Sounds different, right? Well, Hasina Kharbhih, who hails from Shillong, did just that when she started her NGO at the tender age of 17. Her goal was to prevent migration of women from the North East to other parts of India, which led to them being trafficked to different parts of the world. She did this by tapping into the creative local fashion. Hasina created an ecosystem where the women of the North East could design and create scarves, wrap arounds and other apparel from the comfortable confines of their home. Their fashionable and traditional clothing then gets sold into the international market as fashion apparel and accessories. This talk of hers talks through this fantastic journey!

The video is yet to be uploaded. I will share it here as soon as it goes live.

Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 30 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
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