Tuesday, November 27, 2012

@ ThinkFest 2012

Here is another advantage of living in Goa - you have an event like THINK happening in your backyard.

Shoma Chaudhury, the Managing Editor for Tehelka magazine was the moderator for many sessions. I thought she did a brilliant job moderating session after session. On varied topics, never once having to refer to notes, not faltering, asking pointed questions, keeping peace on stage and retaining a sense of humor.

Think has a winning format, it moves from topic to topic every 20-30 mins, bringing leaders, innovators and thinkers in each field to discuss new ideas, problems, opinions and viewpoints. As my friend very well said it (Think) 'moves from rural space to big universe' in the same room in a matter of minutes. A 3-day affair, the content is alluring enough for people to gather at 8:30 AM each morning, and leave over-stimulated and asking for more at the end of it.

Here were my big take-aways:

The BIG most pressing issues for us to focus on are:

- rural development
- environment
- promoting innovation
- women and human rights

I love the idea that Think gets top politicians, big industrialists and grassroot activists on the same stage. And that it keeps the Bollywood presence to the bare minimum (thank you). I like that it allows for free registration and attendance. All one requires in interest to attend, commitment to sign up ahead of time, and thankfully no silly 'connections' (which sadly has been the only way to get anywhere in our country for the longest time). I like that the event is super flat, all attendees can sit anywhere, use the same entrance and break out in the same area, no silly VIP and VVIP reserved seats upfront with the free seats all the way in the back...

This year my favorite speakers were Sonal Kapoor, who started the non-profit Protsahan to empower underprivileged children through education and Stalin, founder of Video Volunteers who is making a journalist out of villagers, dalits, tribals and anyone who need a voice in this diverse country of ours. Both speakers were inspiring, brave, humble and I loved their passion and their means for change. I guess the best part was that it was easy to relate to these two and to see that they have created powerful tools for upliftment, betterment and development from scratch.

I love the participation from grassroot activists. Last year they had Dayamani Barla from Jharkand. This year, it was Ulka Mahajan from Maharashtra, Pradeep Prabhu and Dev Ram Kanhera, farmers from Madhya Pradesh. Read excerpts here, 4:50 session.

Link to videos from sessions at ThinkFest 2012, click here. Below are my favorites (from the sessions I attended):

Watch for the most entertaining session with Javed Akhtar, here.
Watch for insights on land acquisition and rural development issues, here.
Watch the inspiring session with Video Volunteers, here.
Watch Anna Hazare for great advice, here.
Watch for mind-boggling universe stuff, here.

Don't watch the video with Shah Rukh Khan, here.

Thank you Think for keeping our minds ticking (often in overdrive...). Thank you for choosing Goa to be the venue. Only please don't make the entry process super complicated as you get more popular... Hope you can keep the things that make Think pretty great alive and consistent as you grow. 

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