“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
In a one of its kind event, National Law University Odisha brought the intrigue and magic of TED to Cuttack in the form of TEDxNLUO. TEDxNLUO is an independently organised event dedicated solely to creating an atmosphere of curiosity and reflection. It asked one to leave their humdrum lives behind for a while to sit back and think about the road that our society has taken and where we are going. It asked one to introspect and re-evaluate their role and contribution to humanity and the Earth. TED has always stood behind the cause of free dissemination of information. Anything under the sun, anytime. It celebrates the ingenuity of human thought and salutes the excellence of the human mind. TED spins a story that spans across borders and time to envelop all those willing into the threads of the regaling story of excellence, perseverance and survival.
Spectators were taken on a journey to see the world from the unique perspective of 6 inspirational individuals. They saw a worldview far removed from their own to truly understand the pains, trials and tribulations of others. The TEDxNLUO stage gave a voice to some unsung heroes and to some inspirational ideas. The day started out with Swati Sukumar, the founder of iProbono India. She spoke about creating more access to justice for the voiceless and the disempowered and the negativity surrounding the practice of probono cases among lawyers. Dr. Sanjoy Hazarika spoke about an issue that is very relevant to modern India, regionalism and the pain it causes. As a leading activist who has helped in the formation of various governance policies and as a native of Shillong itself he showed the audience the ache that the youth of the North East feel when the racism surrounding them prevents them from contributing to the future of their own nation.
In an incomparable monologue possibly not seen often on the TED stage, Rukmana Deep spoke about his experience as a bonded labour survivor, except he spoke entirely in Sambalpuri lending his story a poignant authenticity and a flavour unique to the TEDxNLUO experience. Priscilla Jebraraj came upon the stage and captured the attention of the audience with practiced ease that comes with being a journalist and a storyteller for years. Priscilla spoke about leading more than just an impassionate ear to the moving tales of people’s misfortunes and take away something more from each story, hope for a better future.
In its final session Paramjeet Singh Bhalla, a self-confessed tech junkie, spoke about his simple rules to understand the intricate world of the internet. He spoke about the power of this global connectivity and how it has in fact made people more local than global. Next up came the visionary from a simple background, D. Prakash Rao. A proud chaiwalla, Mr. Prakash took the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as he spoke of his experiences with illness, poverty and hard work. Upon receiving one unit of blood from an unknown source at his time of dire need, he felt so moved that he has donated blood regularly since then and currently holds the record for the man to have donated the most amount of blood in Asia. He runs a slum school and contributes to educating poor children and getting them off the streets. Richa Sharma graced the stage next and spoke about a pressing matter for the millennial generation, depression and psychological illness. Her foundation YourDOST works ceaselessly to provide a channel for individuals to get therapy and counselling anonymously. She spoke of the stigma associated with mental illnesses and how it makes matters worse and puts us at the risk of losing more people in the long run. The event was concluded by a talk given by Thomas Cherian, the founder World Vision Foundation, an organisation aimed at providing support to communities living in poverty and seclusion. He spoke about the importance of development that is sustainable in nature. Responsible development was the stress of his talk and was aimed at reminding the audience of their obligations towards the Earth and other people.
Thus ended a day of ruminating on the nature of our existence. Each talk was aimed at touching a pertinent section of the world’s current concerns and to inspire empathy and initiative in others too. The day’s greatest take away was remembering the boundless capacity of human endeavour and skill.
Often life and its daily stresses take us away from the bigger picture, events like TED work towards reminding the far reaching impact of every human action and what even one determined person can achieve.
All it takes is to question.