Finally, after 3 years, TEDxPSGTech was back on the college campus for the year 2022. TEDxPSGTech in partnership with the prestigious TED is an event conducted in support of the Global Leaders Forum (GLF) where speakers from different walks of life come to share their ideas on the theme/topic of that day.
The event started with the welcome address by Naren A, Joint Secretary of the GLF, followed by a quick briefing by Akkshaya R, the TEDxPSGTech License Holder, about what TEDx is and the theme of the event, “Why Not?”. Concluding the introductory speeches, our Principal, Dr. Prakasan K, gave the presidential address, which solidified the importance of the day's theme and our responsibility towards the pursuit of truth which should be the basis of any decision we take with a "Why Not?" mentality. The event was co-sponsored by IDP, Herkley Sports Centre, Accommodation Partner - Express Holidays, Refreshment Partner - 11:11 Vital Juicery.
The first speaker of the day was Dr. Geetha Manjunath, the founder-cum-CEO of Niramai Health Analytix which uses AI algorithms to detect breast cancer in a non-invasive manner. She recalled many instances from her life that led to this startup and how her "Why not?" mentality has helped her. Her earliest inspiration to be inquisitive about everything came from her father. He helped her cultivate an interest in science and math which led her to get into the best engineering college for UG in Bangalore.
After excelling in her UG she found academia to be her calling and took the less-traveled path at that time of continuing her studies at IISc, Banglore. She said having an open mind to everything in life has helped her learn and break down the biases she had. After setting up a research lab for HP in India, she went back to academia to get her Ph.D. after spending 15 years in the industry. where she focused on developing solutions to real-life problems.
A relative of hers was diagnosed with breast cancer, and on reading more about this disease she found many women (over 96000 women died last year in India itself) are victims of this disease and there is a need for a cheaper and more accurate way in detecting it, and this was the catalyst for her to come up with a non-invasive, accurate way to detect it (using Thermal Imaging, ML and AI algorithms). This problem statement inspired her to quit her current job and start this brilliant and life-saving Start-Up.
The second talk was by Ms. Mrudula Joshi, founder of Ullisu, a comprehensive platform that helps one adopt a zero-waste and sustainable lifestyle. After entering the fashion industry graduating from NIFT, she realized that most fashion brands focused more on marketing and that there was a lot of fabric waste being generated. She began researching more into climate change and minimalism realizing that waste generation is a design problem and that we have become too dependent on disposables which have led to this unmanageable waste generation crisis. All this inspired her to find ways to reduce the waste one creates.
To help her stick to the resolution of zero waste in her life she created an Instagram page where she’s shared her lifestyle and resources to help people follow this lifestyle.
She came up with 3 pointers that would help one start following and consistently keep up this lifestyle:
1. Finding consistent inspiration to follow the lifestyle, and treating it like a habit.
2. Find resources around you to help live this lifestyle. She helped map all such resources available in India, by creating the package-free map.
3. Finally find peer support, to help keep continuing living this lifestyle and also to build a community that wants to change the world one step at a time.
After a short refreshment break, the session resumed with an instrumental music performance by Mr. Muthu Nageshwaran and Mr. Debin Alfred of the "Nothing But Music" Group. This was followed by a break for lunch.
The third speaker of the day, Mr. Akash Muralidharan, talked about how his interest in food led him to explore food design and pursue a master's in Food Design from the University of SPD Milan. The inspiration for his 100-day cook-and-see challenge stems from a 70-year-old recipe book called "Samaithu Paar". On reading the book, he realized that a lot of the vegetables mentioned were either hard to source or were used for very specific recipes, and over time our vegetable palette had adversely shrunk. This was due to various reasons like changes in lifestyle choices, historical events, etc. He asks why not use foreign vegetables in traditional recipes like we did with chow-chow 70 years ago or use our indigenous vegetables like kovakkai in foreign recipes like pasta. By doing this we can not only improve our diets but also find a more sustainable way to produce and eat food.
The fourth speaker was Ms. Sowmiya Shasu, the first transgender lawyer based out of Nilgiris. She talked about her life and the challenges she faced. She was based in Thanjavur, where her family, except for her mother, did not accept her. This was in contrast to when she was studying law at Trichy Government Law College, where she faced no such discrimination. She is currently working as a junior lawyer, pursuing criminal law while also writing a book on the challenges she faced as a transwoman. She is also helping other trans people find a sense of community and is helping them in finding ways to lead a normal life. She asks everyone in our society to give transgender people a chance by understanding and accepting them as fellow members of society.
The fifth and final speaker of the day was Mr. Pradeep Kumar, the acclaimed composer, and singer/songwriter, He talked about Pann, a programmable NFT project which he created in collaboration with other artists. It is a program that dynamically produces ambient music from the 19,440 different variations from the 9 layers or "stems" in this "living" piece of art, contributed by over 40 artists. By changing the state of the NFT on the Ethereum blockchain, a new variation is created. The inspiration for this project stems from the idea that as time passes, the way we make, experience, and share music also evolves. In the current music industry, there is a lot of uncertainty about if the artists get duly compensated for the art they make. Also, over time the gap between the artist and audience has widened, which had made what was supposed to be an intimate experience into something mechanical, disconnected, and profit-seeking. This is what Paan exactly sets out to solve by using the technology of blockchain and spearheading the effort in the evolution of music in the digital age.
He also draws parallels with himself; as a performer the way he performs a specific song changes from time to time because as a person he changes over time and so does this piece of art. He asks why shouldn’t we adopt new technologies in making art and why shouldn’t we try out new mediums and genres as things always evolve. After the talk, the singer/composer serenaded us with his singing.
Finally, Ananya H, Secretary of the GLF, delivered the vote of thanks. The event was a pleasing peek into the minds of people who sought to challenge boundaries by asking themselves “why not” and pushing themselves out of their comfort zones which resulted in being a grand success.
(We thank GLF and the TedX team for the opportunity to cover this event, for the photos and making this possible!)