The Telegraph
Monday , February 3 , 2014
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Dia speaks against liquor, Brinda hails she power

- Politicos, ad gurus and cine stars advocate untrodden paths at TEDx hosted by IIM-Ranchi

Sixteen speakers, one message!

The third edition of IIM-Ranchi’s annual conclave TEDx (the name standing for technology, entertainment and design), organised at SAIL auditorium in Ranchi on Sunday, saw eminent personalities from diverse fields share views on the well-chosen theme, Beyond Conformity.

Their diverse opinions and experiences, however, converged to express a common message — only believers can be achievers.

Nearly 300 people, mostly invitees, heard the speakers as they churned food for thought by narrating their experiences in unconventional fields like arts, politics, social activism and so on.

First to take the stage was Medha Purao Samat, who left a lucrative banker’s job two decades back to work for the empowerment of urban slum dwellers. Today, Annapurna Parivar, an outfit she found in association with women slum dwellers in Mumbai and Pune, is a classic example of how community-based financing and insurance schemes work.

“Poverty is a man-made problem. We can fight it only by coming together,” she said.

“I wondered banks do crores of business everyday, but still slum dwellers preferred to take loans from private moneylenders. Banks, on their part, were hesitant to dole out loans to these people. As a result, the poor ended up losing everything to pay loans. I started out with Rs 9,000 from my pocket and began giving interest-free loans to slum women,” Medha recalled.

She then chronicled how they moved on to devise health and insurance schemes.

“Making profit wasn’t my intention, but as we began to spread wings, the efforts did pay off. Most importantly, lives of slum dwellers started changing,” she said.

Ad man Ambi Parameswaran spoke how business schools needed to change the approach of focusing only on the product and not the society they were catering to.

As an example, he highlighted how religion had attained a celebrity status.

“Our image of Lord Shiva now comes with six-pack abs and tattoos. Similarly, no real estate agent can sell flats without vaastu compliance. God-based products is a multi-crore market now,” he said.

Bollywood actor Dia Mirza professed anti-alcoholism. “I witnessed the effects of alcoholism at the tender age of nine because someone close to me was addicted to it. But, it took me 14 years to realise that it is not an addiction, but a disease. That was my true calling to profess against it. In a country like ours, going to rehab is a taboo, but don’t hesitate. Reach out to people who need help,” she pleaded.

CPM politburo member Brinda Karat called upon the youth to think beyond boundaries to usher in change.

“Conformity and non conformity depend on who you are challenging. Women should strive to create an identity beyond the limited roles that society offers them, be it mother or wife,” she said.

Among the other speakers were artistes Astad Deboo and Vijaylakshmy Subramaniam, and Vinod Pandey, officer on special duty to Union minister Jairam Ramesh.

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