1. All views in the post are mine and written with an open mind.

2. I am not going to bore you with my bad photographs. Check the following link for wonderful photographs from Felix Chandran. ( another awesome guy I met in TedX Chennai)


I was travelling back from TedX event in IIT to my home. As it’s a long bus back, my thoughts were spinning around the people who I met, listened and interacted with. I had 3 questions in my mind

1. Should I quit my job and start agriculture, which I believe can be transformed in to an organized industry in India?

2. Should I quit my job and start travelling from North Pole to South Pole just like that haphazardly without any plan in mind? Mind you travelling is one of the many things I love


3. Should I stay where I am and make small changes in my own domain with the simple powers I have and make a difference in the lives of the people I know?

The answer at the end of the series

TED is a short form for Technology Entertainment Design, a non-profit organization which has a sole aim of spreading new ideas in whatever domain you can think of. Recently TED came to India and the first conference held in Mysore was a huge success. Ok I don’t think people like me could have attended it because the ticket comes at a princely price of $2400 ( a lakh and odd). But you can see the videos for free online after two weeks of the event. The videos are a rage in Youtube – never miss those

For those people who can’t attend, there are independent TED events, licensed by TED foundation called the TedX. A set of volunteers from Chennai took the challenge of organizing and what a event it was….

I was personally inspired by the TED videos and when TedX was announced in Chennai. I was so sure that I am going to attend. I got the ticket from Joe, my friend who was also part of the organizing team (I paid for it guys). There were lot of people who were cribbing that Rs.1000 as costly but I knew the worth. I thought the organizers did it in order to restrict the number of people..

After a early rise on a Sunday morning ( that’s unusual for me. I usually open my eyes at around 10 on a Sunday) and a long slow bus ride (which I didn’t expect) reached the IC & SR Audi of IIT, Madras just on time for the breakfast. I savored the tasty pongal and Vada but missed the coffee (he he he). I should admit that I was thinking that it will not start on time…

With only few minutes delay ( events in Chennai get late by one hour usually), the event started with Kiruba Shankar, introducing TED and TedX. The first technical glitch came with the first video of Chris (TED Founder) which didn’t work. Kiruba was quickly rescued the situation joking on how they played it 20 times the day before.Sometimes Technology fails you even in a Technology event ( should I say windows failed you? )

Anil Srinivasan and Sikkil Gurucharan

It was apt to start the conference with music and that too a fusion of Western Harmony and Carnatic Music. Anil, a trained western classical pianist and Gurucharan, a Carnatic vocalist started their tryst of colloboration music 4 years back using Skype Chats. Now the duo is four fusion albums old and a number of awards.

Anil shared a few stories of how Sarangi became Piano and how western classical piece became “Kaatrinile Varum Geetham”. They dumped the talking after a few minutes and Anil’s piano started the talking, sorry stirring my soul… With Gurucharan’s voice blending, it was a morning filter coffee with the Cappucino twist. Slowly they moved on to “Aasai Mugam” by Bharathiar, which was soulful.

Anil felt the sounds were not good so they performed ” Naan yenna vilayattu Bommaiya” by Papanasam Sivan, which was ice cream topping for the morning. I was amazed the way western piano and Carnatic music blended. It was interesting to know that “Aasai Mugam” was written on Bharathi’s mother and Krishna. He wrote the poem after the picture of his mom was burnt in a fire.

P.S: The same western classical blend with Indian classical is what you hear in Ilaiyaraja’s music. For better understanding, listen to Thiruvasagam.

Krupa of Sukrupa

TED is about sharing the life experience of one and how they had made something in life. There is a very thin line of difference between sharing and pitching. Krupa along with her mother started an NGO Sukrupa which empowers woman slum dwellers to lead a better life through education and self employment.

Although her concept was great and idea was profound, the talk was more like a marketing pitch for her NGO rather than a Ted talk. I felt she could have put her experiences in a better way and that was the first shocker of the day.

Sharada Ramanathan

Sharada, an Independent Film maker and the director of “Srirangaram” – which won a host of international awards and was revered in famous film festivals.

Sharada’s talk was deep, thought provoking but extremely biased. I accept her thoughts about movies which have to go to the grass roots and create meaningful content but she tried to create a stir by criticizing the populist movies. It’s the same old argument of the so called “intelligent” film makers on the so called “masala” film makers. As a ardent movie buff, I believe all the type of movies can co-exist in an Eco system. The people of India are appreciative of any good movie which will enrich and entertain them. We usually compare our movies with Korean, French, Spanish and English language movies. I think all these movie ecosystems have all kinds of movies for the people to watch. Sharada’s accusation and statements were more like attention grabbing whereas it could have been a wonderful insight in to Indian Cinema.

GRK Reddy

The next shocker of the day. I can’t even remotely agree this was a TED Talk. I agree his life could have been a inspiring story of a bureaucrat becoming a businessman but it looked more like a simple sales pitch for Marg Swarnabhoomi. Don’t you agree the AR Rahman concert was the biggest marketing tactic to bring people to Swarnabhoomi and experience it? I can’t explain more as most of the crowd was disinterested in the talk.

Romulus Earl Whitaker

After a shocker comes the pleasant whiff of nature in Whitaker’s form. Romulus Earl Whitaker aka the Snake Man is a Herpetologist who was instrumental in creating the Snake Park in Chennai ( visit it once.. Your fear of snakes will fly away)

His talk was about how they are using technology and community development to develop the Agumbe Rain forest and conserve the King Cobra population in the area. King Cobra is a speciality of India and he explained the facets of Cobra with superb humour. His jab at Chennai ( Red Dog ) showed his love for Madras. Don’t worry Romulus, we don’t have a Raj Thackeray here 🙂


Madhavan’s talk was arguably the best talk of the day. An IITian, quit his job at ONGC and started farming 😉 Yes, he believes and works for making Agriculture as an Industry. His talk was so thought provoking and statistics were hard hitting

“If 80% of the population are in to agriculture why 40% of the children are mal-nutritioned”

“the agricultural universities never know the reality of the farmers and farmers do not even know there is an agricultural university. There are 100 prototype machines made every year in these universities bur never see the light of production”
Through his research he had identified 20 different parameters which can improve agriculture but he could explain only 5 major parameters due to time constraint.

His idea was simple. He says “it’s not about the amount of area used for agriculture matters but the productivity of the land is more important”. He also took a dig at the “Land Ceiling Act” which became a deteriorating factor for Indian Agriculture. Coming from the granary of India, Thanjavur, his talk created a whirlwind of emotions in my heart. I am not able to come out of it till this moment.

Abdul Kalam quoted about this guy ” we need a million Madhavans for India” … Yes we do need. With that thought we broke for lunch…

To be continued…

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Posted by Sylvian

Marketing Analyst by profession, a quizzer by passion, a blogger by choice, a poet by chance, a non-conformist by gene and a rebel by birth


  1. Awesome writeup Patrick.. loved it.


    1. Thanks Ram..Wait for the next part too


    2. agree that tedx chennai rocked. but Dont agree with you on most. the fusion was flaky and the filmmaker for a change from other film types,spoke of more expanded and solid views. and the snake man was too snaky and frivolous. also dont think you can rank the speakers. They come from such different fields. agree on the NGo lady , too much self-promotion.


      1. Hi rankitar, I enjoyed the music and i am not an expert in it. So i can say whether i enjoyed it or not. I will not be able to agree on the film maker's part because i am a lover of Tamil films and i feel every film has its place in the hearts of the people. Taking a movie which was appreciated by a select few in festivals doesn't qualify you in commenting that other movies are crap. I never ranked the speakers and i think i was very clear at that. Romulus – i think its perception. Even some people didn't like Satyabrata Dam's talk and also Vittal's talk….


  2. Thanks Raja for the Comment


  3. hmmm.. three shockers, and a mediocre, hoping that the second part of the day was more eventful.. i was following your tweets about this too.. To be featured as a speaker here aint a small thing. it shows that the whole of chennai has taken note of their achievements and decided to bow down to them. It is sad that they werent able to accept that fact gracefully and it just became a marketing event for them. i have no doubts about the calibre of the Organizers (except for you know who!) sad to see such a terrific job done by them be let down by their speakers. TEdxChennai organizing team(except for that one guy i hate) well done folks.. you deserve standing applause for materializing this event.


    1. Hantan, i think you are joining the group of people who hates "you know who!". But event he second half had a big shocker for me. I hated those 20 minutes of art of living course. I don't need anybody to say how to live


  4. Pat,

    That was a splendid read for me…
    Kudos to your writing……Balak

    You made me feel that i should have attended.


    1. Thanks Bala for the Comment. keep reading and start writing


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