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December 06, 2016

TedxGateway 2016: The Making of Modern Day Icons

Text by Wyanet Vaz

People who think less and do more…

There are over 200 million differently-abled people in the world and another 20 million are forced to be refugees. This year’s TEDxGateway held at NCPA, Mumbai highlighted the fact that even in the face of adversity there are 1000 ways to be alive, if you have the will to. 24 speakers and 8 hours later, we were left with the idea that ‘nothing is impossible’. The clichéd and extensively used phrase found a growing audience after listening to the story of a blind man who took up adventure sports, a working mother who moonlights as a social activist, a young professional who started his own ‘Robinhood Army’ and a Brazilian artist who is fighting racial discrimination through art.
And finally, as we picked up life lessons from these people with ordinary lives, we realised it is their extraordinary passion that actually makes a world of a difference.

I would sing 80 anthems in their native language in 80 countries. And I would sing with the children of each country. Not all the kids would know pop songs as me, but all the kids who went to school would know their national anthem. The purpose was to generate money and awareness for orphaned, abandoned children.
One of the important things I learned on my journey, is that even though we are all so different, everyone in the world wants to feel appreciated and connected. If you want to connect with people, learn more about their culture and their way of life.
Capri Everitt
Child prodigy, youth ambassador, and singer.

Investigative journalism is a hard road. It requires waiting for years to find proofs, to be courageous, to stand up to intimidation and legal threats. Silence is not an option.
As journalists, we are not scared. Fear is less of an issue. The problem is loneliness. Very few people are willing to stand up with us.
Josy Joseph
Journalist

As an exercise for a class in Sweden, I told my young students to write a letter to a refugee whose story they connected with. 10-year-old Anna writes, ‘Dear refugee, I am spoilt. I get what I want, I go where I want. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. But I know that one day you will think about how far you have come. Never stop believing. You can do anything. Best of luck. Anna.’
Don’t hate what’s strange. Life is very hard, being angry about it solves nothing. There are 1000 ways to be alive. Your hope and your faith are significant instruments in helping you find your way.
Deepak Ramola
Founder and artistic director of Project FUEL

We have a huge challenge in front of us. We need to make our children researchers and explorers. Any modern education must include: ‘curiosity’, the ability to ‘play’ with science, and the opportunity to ‘experience’ it. We want to put quantum mechanics and modern science in the hands of our kids. Let them create crazy inventions. Let them be mad scientists.
Boaz Almog
Quantum researcher

Ask yourself when you go back to your daily lives, “how am I using my talents to help society?” Because the most powerful lesson here is that if more people live their lives trying to be famous in death, the world would be a much better place.
Lux Narayan
CEO and co-founder, Unmetric

The Deonar dumping ground is a toxic time bomb in Mumbai. The garbage that you send out of your homes comes back into your lungs. Frankly, we don’t need to be problem solvers, we just need to recognise that we are the problem. So what can we do? Minimise the generation of waste. Make this a part of your brunch conversations, Facebook updates, Twitter storms. Make this a public movement…your own personal crusade.
Vandana Trivedi
Social activist

When stereotyping people, we often think of the worst case scenario. People get lynched by mobs for eating the wrong kind of meat, communal riots break out based on false Whatsapp messages, countries go to war because they believe another country has got weapons of mass destruction. Immigrants are accused of stealing jobs. We start looking at every stranger with suspicion. Anything different is dangerous. Anyone not with us has to be against us.
Capt Raghu Raman
Distinguished Fellow – ORF, ex-soldier, and UN Peacekeeper

Like Iron Man, we can touch information in the form of 3D models. Augmented reality will free us from our phones. It will change the way we learn, work and think. AR is more than just chasing Pokemon. It is the future we are going to live in.
Florian Radke
Augmented reality futurist

Why do we push eager people out of the health care system? What would happen if we turn busy waiting rooms into classrooms? Instead of bombarding people with medical jargon just before they leave the hospital, we want to train families and run sessions in the wards. We want to transform healthcare from being a cold and scary experience into something that’s full of compassion. We want to bring families to the centre of care.
Edith Elliott
Co-founder and CEO of Noora Health

I was 19 when I woke up completely blind one day. I lost my sight to glaucoma. I checked into a rehab. They told me there, that I could spend the rest of my life making chalk, or cane furniture or at best become a telephone operator. They stripped me of my dignity. My rehab lasted exactly one hour.
How many people feel it’s crazy for a blind man to be a pilot? Every person I told this dream to said it was impossible. It took me seven years just to find an instructor who would believe in me, who would say ‘why not?’
Divyanshu Ganatra
Founder, Adventures Beyond Barriers

I was a shy kid in school who was bullied. I wanted to fight back. So I took to self-harm. I became numb to the sound of everything except music. It gave me a voice. I started singing on the streets. I sang an hour of jazz, rock, pop and blues. I realised that when you accept music, music accepts you.
Sumit Sadawarti
Musician

The world does not merely revolve around our professional careers and start-ups. There’s no point in having a great network and a degree unless we use that to at least attempt to make a difference.To sum this up in one word: purpose, Purpose is something not restricted to your family, your loved ones or your software career. We can be as ambitious about the things around us that need to be fixed. To do that, we need to think less and do more.
Neel Ghose
Founder, Robin Hood Army

I was shocked about how people are fascinated about white skin. Probably because their friends, family, colleagues, movie stars, and celebrities judge ‘white’ as the only form of beauty. If India itself can hold the colours of the entire world, why does this stigma remain in the minds of many people? We still have to work hard to fight this stereotype. We still have to fight against discrimination, because this is not fair.
Angélica Dass
Artist and photographer

I was born with osteogenesis imperfecta , a rare and incurable genetic disorder that causes a person’s bones to be extremely fragile. During my birth, I had over 35 fractures. The doctors said I’ll only live for a day or two. I’ve had 130 fractures in the span of 13 years.
My advice to you is: Find your passion. Never hold yourself back. Help others. Dream Big.
Sparsh Shah
Singing prodigy

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