TODAY -

TEDxImphal - 11 December 2011

TEDxImphal: a curtain raiser

E-Pao.net *


About 25 years ago, a global set of conferences happened on the theme of "ideas worth spreading". It brought people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design( TED). Started as a four-day conference in California, TED has now grown to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. Along the TED journey was added the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to organize local, independent TED-like events around the world; and the TEDFellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. While there are many TEDx programs happening across the world, in India, there has only been one such event in the entire North East at Guwahati (Assam). But come December 11, 2011 and Manipur sets to host its first TEDx event under the theme- Manipur: winds of change.

TEDx are local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks videos and live speakers combine to spark discussions and connections in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized after a license is granted.

Devakishor Soraisam the licensee of TEDxImphal says, "I got to know of TED Talk videos through my online friends and fell in love with them. I was very excited when they started the TEDx programs. It was inspiring to see many TEDx events happening around the country. Sadly though, no such events were being organized in my home state - Manipur. A place about which, not much positive news could be read and a state synonymous with insurgency, violence, corruption and civil unrest."

Devakishor who works with the adventure travel company based in Bangalore Getoff Ur Ass then started reaching out to people from Manipur (based in the state and elsewhere) to organize a TEDxImphal through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. "Some laughed at me, some encouraged me, some showed interest and wanted to do it together. So, along with those interested in doing it together and who believed in the idea of a TEDx event, we worked on a theme and sent in a concept note that was aimed at pitching stories of hope and inspiration from Manipur," says Devakishor. The idea of a TEDxImphal event took root in December 2010 and over numerous email exchanges that went back and forth across the country (Bangalore, Imphal) and abroad (South Africa, Dubai).

"Our theme is "Manipur: winds of change" and though it sounds like a hangover of the famous Scorpion song, we thought it appropriate that when we organize a TEDx event, we would put out stories of people who have battled out extreme odds to be a pioneer in their respective fields. People who give hope through their work," adds Chitra Ahanthem a feature writer with Imphal Free Press who is also part of the organizing team. She added, "When we feature talks from people who have lived with the close to 20 hour electric load shedding that happens everyday but kept on with their zeal for life and their work, their journey can give hope to many people in the midst of despair. On the other hand sharing these stories through a TEDx event means a huge global platform. It is a huge opportunity for all of us to state that despite huge setbacks, the human spirit can hold strong. We need to affirm that."

Traveling across countries during the online groundwork for TEDxImphal was Supriya Shijagurumayum who works at Wipro Infotech. "I have been a fan of TED talks. Through TED, I have been exposed to the experiences of people from various backgrounds. I have always felt that an event like TEDx would be unique as it provides a channel to open discussions and inspire youngsters. On the other hand, an event like TEDx would put a landlocked state like Manipur in the 'internet grid'. Here, I would happily recall being inspired by Shashi Tharoor in his TED talk about soft power of India representing her and the talk by Anil Ananthaswamy explaining extreme Astrophysics and the difficulties faced," says Supriya.

Giving therapy to the team behind TEDxImphal is Paonam Thoibi, a trained Clinical Psychologist and working with 'Human to Humane', a Transcultural Centre for Torture and Trauma as a Client Service Professional. Asked why she is part of the organizing team, she says, "I always wanted to listen to people who tell real time life stories about struggles and how they have made a difference. But my work means that I deal with a lot of blood and gore on a daily basis and when I got roped into the discussions around a TEDx event in Imphal, I had to be a part of it."

The team is currently in the process of finalizing the event speakers and other aspects of the TEDxImphal program, which E-Pao will keep on updating.


* This article was posted on November 21, 2011.


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