TEDxIITRoorkee 2017: Symphonic Chaos

News, 26th October 2017

An annual TEDx event at IIT Roorkee has become a norm over the past few years with the conference promising to grow every time. Themed around the idea of “Symphonic Chaos”, this year’s TEDxIITRookee was about the stories that promote the celebration of imperfections, or chaos fundamentally. As a big positive for the audience, the number of speakers this time increased to seven as compared to five last year. While Symphonic Chaos could have meant a multitude of things in different contexts, most of the speakers picked up life, its flaws, and the glorified possibilities of making it better as the crux of their talks. As is the risk with such philosophical topics, at some sparse moments, the ideas being discussed seemed to be repeated or already heard of; but, all in all, the seven talks vowed to provide the audience with enough ideas to ponder upon which could enable them to embark on the search of that chaotic, yet, maybe, a perfect life.

Miss Bistriti Poddar, a content creator and the founder of the hugely followed page—The Paperless Postcard, was the first speaker of the event. She identifies herself as an ideapreneur and enjoys managing a startup along with a corporate job in the busy and bustling city of Mumbai. Rather than introducing anything new, her talk, for the most part, revolved around her philosophy of life. Based on her experiences, she listed down three things which are imperative to become a successful entrepreneur—sacrifice, gutsy outlook, and breaking out of one’s comfort zone. Also, she discussed on why unwavering self-belief and courage are the two traits that she swears by and how they have contributed greatly to her journey so far.

Mr Ankur Warikoo, co-founder of two well-respected startups, Accentium Web and Nearbuy.com, and an angel investor, is one of the most prominent faces in the Indian startup scene today. His talk consisted of stories, humour, and insights, all connected to a radical idea—to break out of the pre-defined path and to resist the obvious. The first incident that he shared was of a university where he was taking a course as a visiting faculty. When he asked his students to list at least three things they learnt in the course, only a handful of them mentioned more than three, who, according to Mr Warikoo, were the only ones that successfully completed the course. Another remarkable incident discussed was based around the placement season of a renowned business school. He asked the applicants to add colours to the standard template of their resumes and was surprised by the different interpretations that people had of that simple task. Furthermore, he was a comfortable and a talented orator, and the stories were well told and worth hearing.

We have all come across the “ludic loop” of scrolling social media websites all day. Mr Brijesh Amin, an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Indus Valley Partners reintroduced this idea and expressed his concerns over the increasing prominence of social media in our lives. Ludic is derived from a Latin word lūdus, which means to play aimlessly. Mr Amin giving the parable of ‘Homo Digitus’ or the humans of the digital world, emphasized that people of the present generation are trapped in the digital world by their mobile phones and instant messengers. The latter half of his talk elaborated on introducing chaos in one’s life and not living it being stuck in the ludic loop. Suggestions like reading more books, or the need to explore the physical reality around us were some generic, yet important, derivatives from his talk.

Mrs Sharell Cook, an Australian travel writer based in Mumbai, gave an emotional narrative on how she gave up her promising career as a government accountant in order to follow her dreams of creative expression. Having visited India before, she boarded a plane to the country in 2005 with the intent to never look back and took up writing about Indian travel as a freelance writer & blogger. She was doubtful and unsure about what awaited her in this unknown country, but she challenged her destiny and reminded herself that she was the master of her fate. Her talk sought to remind us all to never be afraid to follow our dreams, to take an opportunity to plunge into the unknown, because who knows, perhaps a hidden destiny awaits in its inky depths.

Sharon Prabhakar, a famed theatre actress, opera and pop-singer, captivated the audience with her memorable performance, as she described how she rose from a girl of an ordinary middle-class household to a celebrated singer, dealing with a chronic vocal cord damage due to an illness, and her iron will to pursue singing, through which she miraculously nursed her voice back. She played as the opening act for Michael Jackson’s performance in India, and recalled her performance there when she had to sing at a height of 65 feet, all while braving her fear of heights. She comedically recited the hectic and exciting life she led up to this point of her life, and how she found a melodic symphony in the chaotic circumstances she endured.

Mr Soumitra Bhat, a user interface and human interaction design expert, talked about how important design innovation is in the entrepreneurship storm, and his three principles for making one’s life and career more meaningful. A brilliant designer and entrepreneur, he explained how one needs to focus on the value of a product, how making it effortless and easy to use is important, and finally, how the end goal is not necessarily always the answer, but rather thinking in a way to satisfy the simplest needs of a user leads to better reception. According to him, by catering to users wishes, the inner satisfaction one achieves is enough to justify the work put into creating a product.

Miss Ashwika Kapur, a wildlife conservationist and filmmaker, concluded the show with the story of how her love for animals and nature led to her achievement of becoming youngest person and India’s only woman to win the Green Oscar in a Global Category. She described her childhood home as a domestic paradise, where she grew up with all kinds of animals, stemming her love for their docile ways. Her journey as a filmmaker took her across various exotic locations, ranging from the mountains of Nepal to the savannahs of Africa, filming beautiful footage of several creatures. Coming from a family of chartered accountants, businessman and engineers, she had to face several resistances to choose the less travelled path. Her repeated iteration on the importance of pursuing your passion served as an example to all those gathered.

TEDxIITRoorkee, every year, manages to create its unique standing among the plethora of other talks and guest lectures taking place on the campus. It’s this possibility of getting exposed to new ideas in the short and constrained span of 18 minutes that make the experience even more enticing. There will always be possibilities of improving upon the content being delivered through these talks but that would be the case for almost all TEDx events. Smooth execution and an ever-improving aggregation of speakers make the event—as a whole—a worthwhile experience.

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