Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My Entries 6 to 17 - Indiblogger, Franklin Templeton Investments present 'The Idea Caravan' - Invest For Tomorrow

This is my last and final entry to the Indiblogger-Franklin Templeton Investments' The Idea Caravan Initiative.

Powerful ideas today are indeed 'the' true investments for a better tomorrow. Egged on by this, eagerly browsed through the videos to join the conversation. The Franklin Templeton Idea Caravan Site has all the information and of course, speaker videos from the TEDxGateway Mumbai 2012. Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

I had a great time participating in this initiative.  I cherish and much appreciate this attempt to spark thought leadership, meaningful debate and collaboration on innovation for larger social good.  Therefore, couldn't let go without viewing every video and coming up with blog posts around each video.

So, this last entry of mine has more than one video.  Read on ..


Usman Riaz and his virtual 'Guru':

Click here to view Usman Riaz's Presentation / Speech Video  


Here is a young musical herd with, hold your breath, the Internet for his teacher!
This is one presentation that is music to the ears as well as jarring at the same time!

Music to the ears because here is an young person, musically inclined, looking for guidance, learning and repertoire finding all of it on the Internet – to innovate & fuse genres and instruments – for his harmonious new age music.  A picture perfect story of harmonious synthesis of diversity in more ways than one!

Jarring because – and even before viewing this, I always have felt strongly about it – despite being from a strong cultural lineage (he even has ‘Riaz’ for a surname – ‘Riaz’ is Urdu for ‘practice’ especially musical), a young music enthusiast, in today’s world bombarded with a minimum of 300 TV channels, countless information explosion – lacked a ‘go to’ Institution, Association in the offline (physical) world – that he had to turn to the Internet!  Why is this jarring you ask?  I am a musical herd with strong affiliations.  Therefore, i inherently and increasingly notice our classical and carnatic musical bastions are almost unavailable to Gen Z.  Except in rare cities like Chennai and Kolkata in India, not every kid in every household gets to go to a music teacher to learn. 

Why isn’t a society like ours – with very deep and proud cultural heritage – taking care of passing on the heritage to posterity?  Why is there no conscious, mass attempt to germinate this to Gen Z? 


Why are our youngsters (and, for that matter, most of us – whether we are Gen X or Y or Z) investing all our time only online and not finding enough offline social affiliations?  What does it augur for our health, cognitive quotient (if you notice Riaz is an intelligent musician but a rather awkward public speaker – which is fine, because he is young and will pick up – but that is also a tell-tale trait for many of us very active online and seldom offline) – the point i am trying to make is: are our offline social lives endangered? If yes and if the only way ‘social’ is present in our lives is through ‘social media’ is that normal? Or should we make course corrections? What does that augur for wider social sharing (2/3rds of the Planet’s population is still not on social media you see) and furthering of shared, social heritage?

Come, join the conversation ..


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Christian Sarkar and his Crowd Sourced, Collaborative 'Health Delivery System' aka affordable housing

Click here to view Christian Sarkar's Presentation / Speech Video 
Or, Watch it here:


At the outset, it is interesting to hear Sarkar remark about how unconnected events in our lives seem to connect back much later.  Steve Jobs’ celebrated ‘connecting the dots’ speech and his having learnt calligraphy (for no rhyme or reason) having contributed to font aesthetics in personal computers much later is what comes to my mind as I hear Sarkar's remark.  

The important question that arises to me is: for us all to realize karmic connections in life, its important we dabble in and have varied interests and influences in our life.  In pressure filled, assembly line lives today, are we sowing and cultivating enough varied experiences to be able to reap such karmic dividends?

90% of the world’s designers spend all their time designing solutions for the top 10% of the world’s population.  Banking, Real Estate and allied systems, as Sarkar points out, seem built for and around this segment.  So, how and who takes it up for the remaining 90% of the world’s population?  If not done, wouldn’t it be naive to expect this 10% world to harmoniously coexist and flourish?

Sarkar started the journey with inspiration from this 100 year old, USD 300 house in Florida, USA and built a collaborated network of solutions, ranging from USD 800 to USD 2,000 houses, all arising from a design challenge they threw open:


A trust infusing Corporate example of how Mahindra & Mahindra employees (originally not under the aegis of the Corporate but as individual volunteers) submitted the design, won the contest and later were strung together by M&M to help construct houses for the flood ravaged in Bihar.    The Chennai and Pondicherry examples for the Tsunami aftermath rehabilitation are much closer home and reinvigorating.

Love this sentence ‘the next CSR should be in solving problems rather than throwing money and doing PR’.  May be, each of us, when we choose to work with Corporate conglomerates, from now on, take a preference for those that make meaningful difference versus those that publish fancy CSR reports.  As constituents, if each of us decides to contribute and make a difference, at some point, it should all add up – a little if not a lot?
The presentation actually ends with a challenge to each of us – to give to something larger than ourselves.  And, if you would love to be part of this crowd-sourced, collaboration towards affordable housing, head to www.300house.com.

I plan to send in some of these thoughts (to begin with):

In my view, what makes affordable housing such an utopian thing is not the house by itself – its the land on which the house stands!  And, land is limited on Planet Earth.  People are not.  

So, here is what I now think, after watching this presentation:  water and air are relatively not as limited as Land on Planet Earth – 70% of the planet is water bodies.  Not all of that 70% water is directly fit for consumption but I am sure a large part of it should be fit for having floating housing structures ;) definitely the parts that are not used for drinking consumption and marine / shipping trade.  

What if we had affordable housing structures that safely stayed put / floated on water? We could even use them on land so when there are floods, we wouldn’t need mass rehabilitation!

Similarly, what if we had safe, affordable housing structures (well, start with a covered hot air balloon) that actually float in the air?  No, i am not joking at all folks.  I’m just ideating and sowing seeds that someone, some day could develop viably in this collaboration chain.  If we can live in & from online clouds, why not offline?  

Come, join the conversation ..


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Ruma Roka and her Journey to take the 'Dumb' out of the 'Deaf':

Or, Watch it here:

The biggest take away from this presentation:

To respect diversity as inherent in nature and therefore, persist – in spirit and practice – to blend inclusivity in everyday life. 

In a land where even able bodied women – struggle for everything from the right to be born to the right to be safe and the right to live, it is well understandable how differently abled people struggle.

Education, employment opportunities, public transportation, airport security mechanisms (there was a recent front page story of how an amputee lady was in tears the way she was subjected to airport security check) .. there is a long list of denial.  And dare i even speak about recreation or entertainment – ever seen / envisaged a differently abled person getting past our theaters and stadiums for a meaningful experience?

Wherever there has been some iota of inclusiveness, the majority of it, i perceive has been to portray a number – of diversity manifestation.  A great deal left to be done on real, practical inclusiveness that makes a meaningful difference to the differently abled.

It is heartening to see that if one individual could, over a few years of investment, get to a point of nurturing 1,500 students and having 580 employed with different Companies, if many more of us join not just the conversation but the action as well, we could be adding tons of meaning to our lives.

Not all of us may – individually – cause major changes.  But each of us can surely cultivate greater sensitivity, to start with.  Ruma Roka points out, and it is heart breaking, that the ‘deaf’ in our country are actually colloquially called ‘deaf and dumb’.  Her journey has been to prove they are not dumb, certainly!  This presentation is proof that they aren’t. 

Come, join the conversation ..

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Matt Johnson and Paper Electronics:

Or, Watch it here:

This is a thoroughly fascinating presentation, from the word go. 

‘Paper Electronics’ a field that is already looking at painting circuits on to skin and has come up with a non-toxic paint already finding use in education and other fields!


I am thoroughly bitten and already have searched for it and browsing through in the other window :)

Johnson remarks how they discovered it wasn’t so much their job to create the product, as much as it was to create the platform (first) where folks could come, collaborate and churn out the ultimate end product – he calls it bridging the chasm – between the lesser privileged and the better endowed – through bridges that are one person long / wide at every step :)

Ok, so here are my original first thoughts:

I would love to see paper electronics majorly play out in:

Food packaging – who needs a refrigerator, stove / microwave if i can have packaging with its own circuits that can heat, cool or preserve my food?

Apparel – Being an Indian woman and seeing women’s safety at dire crossroads, I would love to have paper electronics play out in apparel.  I want clothes that have inbuilt circuits – that women can activate to induce shocks on the attacker, to pass on emergency sirens, to activate alarms, what not! Phew, here we come!

Personal Transportation – well, would love to see this reduce the cost and carbon foot print of automobiles and personal transportation vehicles.  Imagine a cycle or a car made of this :)

Mobile Devices – i want paper electronics to come up with low cost, upgradeable devices that won’t cost like USD 1,000 upwards (and add deadly import duty in India)!

Come, join the conversation ..

Thank you Franklin Templeton Investments for sponsoring this thought leadership blogathon. Thank you Indiblogger for giving us the platform.  Thank you TEDx for giving us the ammunition :)

Hope you, the reader(s) enjoy my articulation and original thought contribution to each of the underlying 'big causes'.

Cheers :)