INK2015 – Day 3

Yes. That’s what we said when we parted yesterday with Emily raising the spirits of all of us with her humorous session. It’s now time to EMBRACE our learnings from the previous days and grow that much more from the last two days of INK 2015!

The session on EMBRACE was introduced by Raghava KK, our INK Fellows programme Chair gets on stage. And the first speaker on stage was Amanda North.

Amanda – a Boston Marathon survivor – had her life changing moment when she helped an injured stranger survive by just being there till medical help arrived! That incident made her understand that it is absolutely important to pursue one’s passion because tomorrow is probably not there for us! Her passion to travel and interest in aesthetics helped her curate artisans from across the world.


She explained how she EMBRACEd two different concepts and hence found her calling! Here’s what she closed her session with:

When the universe knocks you out and blasts through you, just get up and walk through the door!

Up came K P Mohanan who delved deep into Linguistics where he outlined the Education system which has been spreading dogmas – scientific or religious. The core principle of science is to question. And by having a ‘questioning’ mentality, learning comes alive


The next on stage was Srikanth Bolla who had to be helped on to the stage because he is challenged visually. But his achievements bely that fact! His life story where his parents teaching him to be compassionate. And compassion is showing a way to live for someone else! His story of how he had to fight the education system and the government to pursue his passion in science. His exemplary confidence was evident with the stories about his encounters with IIT and his association with Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam.


He ended his session with this quote. Very aptly:

Most of the people are born with the gift of sight, but few are born with the gift of vision. Amazing talk

Nishikant Deshmukh outlined his research on Ultrasound Elastrography and the impact of his research in cancer detection and cure. The uniqueness of his research is primarily because he was able to EMBRACE biology with technology – and that too with commercially available graphics processing unit. From taking 2 seconds for each frame, his research has been able to get imaging at 78 frames per second today. This is how people who we don’t know touch our lives. And the impact is immense.

Up came Benitha Perciyal – an artist par excellence who has created her own colours and medium for her painting and sculpting work. Her expression was less in words but more with her art form which is absolutely intense. Here’s a sample:


We were in for another musical treat; this time by a very sensible head on very young shoulders. Here’s why:


Sandya found her Violin Teacher online; self-taught Western Classical Violin and performed for us with Meagan Pandian who is a violinist, keyboard artist and also the only pedal harp player in the country!

Session 2 – TANDAV
Lakshmi introduced Tandav with the importance of ‘unhappiness’ as an emotion. It is important to be imperfect, understand that imperfection and from that imperfection rises the opportunities for success! And to highlight this the first speaker on stage was Angad Singh. His session revolved around Creativity and how crucial it is in creating our future. Creativity is originality combined with Value was a statement he made and he went on to bust a few myths about creativity


India is no stranger to Crowdsourcing was the first statement that Anshulika of Wishberry made. From Manthan – a movie made with the contribution of farmers in Gujarat to many other projects that have now seen success through Wishberry today, Anshulika highlighted that Indians love our art & culture.


Aparna Venkatesh spoke about immunology and stem cell research and gave us a sneak peek at growing heart cells which ‘beat’ in the petri-dish! More medical research followed with Catherine Mohr – a Roboticist and a surgeon in one who highlighted the disruptive technologies in medicine.


Samyak Chakrabarty took the work on education further highlighting India’s social development sector being laggard, inefficient, boring and alarmingly bureaucratic!


Then came Kirthiga Reddy to introduce her coaches. Her kids. With her speech revolving around the paradigm of ‘learning, unlearning and re-learning’, she brought in the fact that she learns most from her children.

The world is moving from Text to Photos to Videos to Virtual / Augmented Reality and we have people who may not know to read / write, but they can use the phone! Their communication has become ‘Visual’.

She also touched upon another paradigm:


And with that Lakshmi closed the session. And she touched upon the importance to be emotionally engaged because the world always guides us to say ‘Do things!’.

But we were not done yet. Kanniks Kannikeswaran introduced us to singing. And a very different kind of singing where all of us became singers! With Dharavi Rocks joining the party it wasn’t just Dharavi Rocks. The entire lot of musicians who were part of INK 2015 got on stage and it was ONE BIG PARTY!

Here’s what Krian Khalap – one of the INK mentors had to say about the performance.


Kanniks had this to say about the finale:

When a group of people start singing, chant together, the air in the environment changes!

And that’s that!

INK 2015 came to an end. But what came to an end is JUST the conference. What will never end is the learning that we carry from these two and a half days.

The list of speakers who shared their stories, experiences and their learning was overwhelming to say the least.

They taught us
The shared with us
They enlightened us
They humbled us
They inspired us

This magic would be repeated next year in Goa. Till then…

INK2015 – Day 2

We had promised intensity, relaxation and intrigue yesterday. And that exactly was in store for Day 2 as well. Yesterday, the themes were to ERUPT, EXPAND, ENGAGE and EVOLVE!
Having been through the intensity that the sessions offered in terms of the content and the people who presented those content, the community called INK had the responsibility to MERGE these concepts which will help us EMERGE through the chaos and EVOKE a method among the madness that the world offers to us!
Lakshmi brought the focus on providing a platform to enable the MERGER of concepts and brought on stage Annamma Spudich – a cultural botanist who gave a platform to plants. She delved deep into merging folklore into medicine and the importance of not losing out on the potential from our past. By merging traditional medicines and active ingredients in plants, the session focused on almost fifty drugs that were discovered by the study of ethnobotany.
The first discussion of the day was with Ravi Chaturvedi – a doyen in the Consumer Industry and has been leading organizations through highs and lows. He had some friendly counsel for entrepreneurs to focus on delighting the customer, no matter where he is. A firm believer that leadership is the most scant resource in the world today, Ravi shared his experiences on how he spends his time teaching leadership.

His parting shot for today’s managers – which he narrated through stories from his own life – was:
• Unwavering commitment to delight your customer
• Unflinching support for team
Then came the man who is really larger than life! Sharath Gayakwad. Sharath is a Paralympic swimmer who started at the age of 4 and fell deep in love with water. Sharath shared his story on how he became what he is today. The struggles, the challenges and more importantly the support he received from multiple sources to get to his level. With more than 100 medals under his belt, Sharath was at the verge of retirement and his story on how Rahul The Wall Dravid brought him back to competitive swimming. Truly an inspiring life which was brought to life in under 10 minutes by riveting narrative.
Here’s a quote from Sharath on winning and losing which is true not just for sports-persons but to every single human being:

India is a cultural hub. India is a treasure house of history. India is a place where these wonders of our past is not celebrated as much. And a village that has lost its God has lost its life! This fact was brought out aptly by Anuraag Saxena who announced his India Pride Project, which was kept a closely guarded secret till he took the stage! India Pride Project focuses on bringing back ancient sculptures and art pieces which have found its way across the world through dubious operators. Entirely crowd-sourced, the people at India Pride Project take time off their day jobs to identify such pieces, their current location and also go one step ahead to negotiate with the Museums and art houses apart from lobbying with the Governments to bring them back to India.

From history to present, INK has curated the most wonderful individuals who have merged diametrically opposing thoughts and have brought to life simple concepts that can touch every single life around them. Mainak is one of them. His work through GPS Renewables in the alternate energy sector which was highlighted as a disruptive sector by T V Mohandas Pai yesterday proved to be remarkable. Here’s a sample:

He summarized his vision in one sentence: “Hopefully one day waste will become so important that it will never end up on the street”.
INK Fellows is a wonderful program which curates achievers in varied fields and brings them on a single platform to support, aide and mentor them towards achieving scale and visibility. Raghava KK, Lalitesh Katragadda and Divya Nair outlined the purpose of the INK Fellows program.
The entire lot of INK Fellows were on stage. It was a moment to savour since here are the people who were crazy enough to believe that they can change the world. Because if nobody does, change wouldn’t happen.

Up next was Maati Baani. A couple. A crazy couple. A crazy couple who loves music. A crazy couple who loves music and is well supported by musical fraternity across the world!
They rocked the auditorium. Nothing short of it. And the music was curated with Nirali & Karthik bringing to stage their music along with folk artists who were given a platform. A beautiful MERGER of modern and folk, which was extempore with Nirali getting the theme, the words and the poems created right on stage!

Session 2
From MERGE to EMERGE. The story of an eagle which breaks its beaks and claws at the age of 40 to let it grow back stronger while starving for nearly 6 months on top of a hill and Arunima Sinha’s rise like a phoenix set the theme for EMERGE!
The second discussion was with Vidya Shah of EdelGive who has created a hybrid model of supporting the NGOs with funds as well as advice was the platform for the rest of the sessions. We had Flavia Agnes narrate her intense story on domestic abuse which helped her EMERGE from the nadir to start an NGO for other such victims was awe inspiring. She urged everyone to provide support to rape and domestic violence victims in every way possible.
Babar Ali – The world’s youngest Headmaster as he is known started his first school at the age of 8 and he now has over 300 students. All this while educating himself and is currently pursuing his masters! His inspiring story on how he struggled hard to get himself educated and how he had to motivate the parents in his locality to get the other children to be educated is a lesson for all of us!

This message was taken so seriously by a few in the audience! He actually received his grant at the event a few minutes after he concluded his speech. Here’s what happened!

Rashesh Shah did not speak about Financial Services. He spoke on the importance of Open Society and the impact it has in aiding progress! How conflicts between tradition & progress, order & flux, open & closed society can affect every human being! How the differences are not between the East and the West but between Open and Closed Societies!

Pranay Chulet of Quikr was a total surprise package as well. Another successful entrepreneur who didn’t talk about his organisation! His session was about how good things come to happen with effort. He showcased his ‘Interactive Movie’ that he produced and directed before founding Quikr and how it was very fulfilling.

Kathryn Myronuk talks about the growth and evolution of computers as an example of exponential technology which happened to have a dark side in pushing out humans from jobs and took us on a ride featuring deep learning, smart cars, rockets and space ships!
The second session was to come to a close but we fortunately had Gingger Shankar before the close. Her excellent narrative on her mother and grandmother’s story interspersed with images of those doyens in classical music and the events which kept them away from pursuing their passion was both riveting and emotional. She ended her narrative with the word Nari which means ‘woman’ & also ‘Sacrifice’!
But that wasn’t the end! She followed up with an amazing double violin performance with Prasanna Devarajan on the Percussion.
Session 3 – EVOKE
What followed the very heavy lunch the menu of which has been carefully chosen by Rajat himself was more on the education sector. Another sector that T V Mohandas Pai mentioned during his interview yesterday.
Anu Aga explained her journey as a socially aware human and her association with Akanksha which started the Teach For India campaign.

The session was filled with lighted moments like the one where Anu admitted her aversion to technology!
But Technology does get used in her efforts. Two wonderful women who decided to skip their MBA opportunity but get into education came on stage one after another. Seema Kamble and Sanaya were hugely inspiring with their life stories on how they chucked their MBA to get into teaching and touch lives which otherwise would have withered away like flowers that doesn’t get admired!

Sanaya showcased her students who put up a broadway show called Maya and signed off saying;
“The potential within each child is limitless, but for the belief for those around them.” – Sanaya Bharucha #INK2015
After Tina made everyone shake both their left feet, Madhukar Dhas took to the stage. He outlined his work on the shocking child mortality rates in and around his village and his NGO Dilasa which serves 84,000 women 110,000 farmers
Zoya Akhtar highlighted her story on how she became a director and how her movies have made her an ambassador for Spain.

On the other hand, Sharad Devarajan showcased his work on how kids in the US are now following an Indian Superhero. His inspiration being Mahabharata which he says is a million times of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Avatar put together.

Kaushal Dugar with his entity Teabox has shipped 30 million cups of tea to over 90 countries by reducing a 7 step value chain down to 3. Thus making fresh tea available across the world. Apart from catering to tea drinkers across the world, TeaBox creates meaningful employment for a lot of people in East India
Up came Josh Radnor. A star who had a very different side to portray. Josh gave a sneak peak into his life as Ted and his original side. His small stories which highlighted the impact that one leaves behind on the others knowingly and unknowingly was engaging and thought provoking. Interlaced with humour, Josh shared his spiritual side openly admitting that his life was not his anymore! Here’s a sample of his humour.

“Our behaviour is contagious. Our words and action affect each other – every moment. The implication is massive! We are wildly underestimating the impact we have on each other! And that’s exactly why we can be contagiously good! There can be no outer peace without inner peace” was the message he left us with.
Truly, this is how we can change the world… one word, one sentence, one tweet, one FB Post at a time. Have good things to say about everyone!
No wonder the result was this:

Up came Emily Levine. An actor, a humourist and a wonderful human being. She had the auditorium in splits with her wise cracks, but there was a deep underlying message. Our relationship with reality! How our belief systems are making us do the wrong things at the right time and how we are unable to balance mastery with mystery was the theme of the session.

To conclude her session she said;
“Edge of chaos is right in the middle of order & disorder. That’s where we become ‘one and the other’ rather than ‘one or the other’!
When that happens, the whole system glows. To get there, all you need to do is to be open…
Say Yes!!!”
“Yes” we said. “Yes” we say. For getting EVOKED by such wonderful human beings is an opportunity of a lifetime. The audience lingered on, because they wanted more. More comes… But that’s tomorrow.
For now, the spirit of Navratri lingers and the Garba session is to start! Dance away!

INK 2015 – Day 1

Disrupt – A theme that is relevant for the day and age that we live in. Because;

To disrupt is to change the way we conduct our business!
To disrupt is to change the way we treat our fellow humans!
To disrupt is to change the way we lead our lives!

Grand Hyatt came alive on October 16, 2015 with Lakshmi Pratury taking the stage exactly at 9 am as always to kick-start the proceedings of INK Conference 2015 themed aptly ‘DISRUPT’.

Even as the event started, the social world came alive with Harsh Mariwala tweeting this:

And the event is webcast live across the world. Here is another sample of how INK 2015 had triggered the imagination of people as far away as the Americas.

Lakshmi made it a point that INK 2015 is not a conference but a community people coming up with different ideas and perspectives. It doesn’t matter where they come from. It is important to say ‘Yes and…’ rather than ‘But no…’.

Session 1 – ERUPT

The first session curated under the theme ERUPT started with Anuradha Acharya of Map My Genome outlining how it is now important to have a ‘Genomepatri’ apart from having a ‘Janampatri. With 80% of the deaths in Asia being caused by lifestyle diseases, it becomes important to progress on Genome based diagnosis which can help prevent diseases and eventually death.

Anuradha was followed by Anand Varma who is a NatGeo photographer who proclaimed that his goal is to use photographs to change the way we see the natural world. With his absolutely stunning images of parasites in insects, bugs and frogs. His absolutely funny way of approaching the topic along with showcasing his skills on dubstepping with his images had the audience in awe!

We then shot ourselves to the moon with Jack Hidary who urged us to think 100x where we can think of just 1x. Quoting Tesla which had the vision to think of an energy efficient car, Jack gave tribute to India as the ‘Moonshot economy’ with smartphones, digital payments, mobile broadband and distributed energy and storage.

We had the pleasure to interact with Alexandru Ionut Budisteanu – a 21 year old computer scientist from Romania who excels in turning prototypes into products which he believes is the ‘Holy Grail of Makers’. Stuart Candy – a futurist and an INK Fellow on the other hand threw open his card game called – ‘A think from the Future’ which takes ideas from the abstract and helps in bringing them to reality – to creative commons. Here’s what Verve Magazine had to say from Stuart Candy’s session

Then came the big surprise of the day! An awesome Kuchipudi performance enthralled the audience and kept them spellbound. Amazement followed when we were told that the performer (add picture) was actually Haleem Khan. Haleem Khan used to steal time and hide his interest from his parents to learn this beautiful dance form and started donning the woman’s costume in accordance with the tenet propounded by Yogi Siddhendra who said that only men should don the role of a woman in Kuchipudi dance form.

Here’s what Haleem had to say; “

Session 2 – EXPAND
The second session began with Lakshmi stressing on the importance of people who can take us back in to the space of what is important in life and demonstrate how to expand our life!

The first speaker of the second session was Manvindra Singh Shekhawat who expressed his love for the Thar Desert, the space it offered him and the people who live in those desert contently despite the lack of resources. He outlined the work done by his team with the help of locals in building a lake which collects 12 Mn litres of water and also the clean up act in Jaisalmer where 150000 square feet of ramparts were cleaned in 25 days!
He rounded of his session with this quote:
“Our past is going to catapult our future beyond anyone’s imagination” – Manvendra Singh #INK2015

Lakshmi initiated the first discussion of the day with T V Mohandas Pai who reiterated his thoughts on how start-ups are solving India’s problems. His firm belief that Energy and education being the next sectors that would disrupt the country and the world’s prospects. With Solar energy getting cheaper than grids and Digital Learning Media assisting in opening up the minds of young Indians, he believes firmly that India is on the right path. He also stressed on the need for a middle-class lobby which can help in achieving the objectives for the common man.

The session with Mohandas Pai was followed by INK Fellows including Arshiya Bose – who has infused bio-diversity into our daily cuppa and Naved – India’s first Hindi Rap artist who admitted that he went the wrong path before cleaning up his act. Our own Eminem – Naved had this advise for people who are walking the wrong path. He rapped in Hindi asking them to; “Search, search till you find your calling. And that will expand the scope of what you want to achieve in your life!”

The next session by Nina Tandon was an eye-opener and she explained how they are ‘growing’ bones in a lab using one’s own stem cells separated from blood samplels. She also introduced the concept of #Cellfie to our audience.

“The next generation therapies are about looking within at the biodiversity of cells that make up our body” #INK2015

The second discussion of the day was with Harsh Mariwala. He outlined his contribution in building Marico and the brands under its fold including Parachute, Saffola and Mediker. The constant innovation in packaging which led to the success of Parachute as a brand was a wonderful story of disrupting common practices to achieve success in a relatively short time frame. He also outlined the importance of identifying the consumer insights which would help building a brand.

On the soft side, he declared “Culture is the source of competitive advantage. You need to create a culture to win in the marketplace. So we created a ‘culture of innovation, openness and risk taking’. A culture where failures are not punished.”

Fun for the day began with Arunabh of The Viral Factory. His dissertation on how the market has misunderstood the concept of ‘Young India’ was a laugh riot. Some of his gems:
• The best fictional show that Indian Youth get to watch is NEWS
• It’s easy to think of ideas but it’s important to put method into the madness!
• Startup is just like a guitar, every college student wants one!
• Get busy doing or get busy dreaming!

Session 3 – ENGAGE

The very different lunch was followed by Lakshmi getting M R Rangaswami to co-host the session which was kicked off by looking into the cosmos by Priya Natarajan. She said that our cosmic messenger is light and Astrology is actually Archaeology of the cosmos.

Balan Ayyar stressed on how small decisions that you make in your life continuously help you make the biggest decision of your life that would bring out your values!

And then appeared Tina Sharma – a wellness consultant who got the entire audience on their feet with her groovy moves to shake them up! It was a riot to watch audience trying to replicate her nuanced steps and laughing at themselves!

Seldom do we understand what goes inside a product reaching our doorsteps! Priyanka Kohli outlined the vastness of a warehousing operation and used that as a platform to explain how their organization helps in creating hardware which makes a complex operation so simple. Grey Orange – India’s first hardware start-up went through many hardships in building a robotics based hardware set up in India

Richa Singh of YourDOST highlighted the social stigma of seeking psychological help. At 400 conversations a day, is a technology solution which helps people to talk their problems and help alleviate suicidal tendencies

Ganesh Natarajan dwelled deep on how Digital tools can educate and create ‘agency’ in individuals in helping them dream and execute their dreams

The Oomph factor of the day was kicked off by Ayushmann Khurrana speaking about his journey to Bollywood. “There is a streamlined structure in casting these days and it is more democratic”, he said. He signed off in style with the Pani da rang song from Vicky Donor.


Lakshmi kicked off the fourth session by having a discussion with Kiran Rao & Anand Gandhi. The dialogue hovered around how films as a medium can be used to address social issues that the country faces. From manual scavenging to education system, Kiran and Anand had their pointers on how the film industry can help find solutions.

“Films is an art form and should not be looked at only as Friday Box Office system. The power of stranglehold on people’s imagincation, we need to use this power to enable people!” said Kiran to wind up the conversation

Another INK Fellow Pavithra Mohan introduced us to Cool Hunting and how she overcame her Bipolar Disorder through curating art! This was followed by a session by Balamurali Ambati – the world’s youngest Doctor who doesn’t wants to be identified so! Bala stressed on the need to donate cornea tissues which can help provide vision to the challenged and emphasised the need with “Netra Daan, Maha Daan”.

“To be able to see the smile of a patient is why I do what I do!” is the most profound statement by any Doctor!

Shamim Sarif weaved stories which can be a window of our past or a window to our future or about our personal evolution. “A million reasons to not walk a path and one strong reason to walk the path – passion to tell the story that I wanted to say!” was the reason for her to take up story telling and visual medium.

We all tell stories everyday to ourselves. We are only limited by our imagination!
When our minds are open to the idea there is a little light that no one can extinguish!

An intense performer, a down to earth human and a wonderful orator is how one can describe Irrfan Khan. Some of his quotes include:
• How things follow you and give you what you are looking for!
• Life shows some paths! It is for us to identify it and follow it!

While commenting on the Indian Film industry against Hollywood, he didn’t mince words and said, “In India, the centre of the story is the image of the Star and all the departments serve that image! In Hollywood, the centre is the ‘story’. Any big star there serves the purpose of the story! That changes everything!”

He is not an intense person after all. His goofy side was brought to life with his story on a tiger encounter and his love for forests which puts him into a deep silence and gives him a high!

What better way to end an intense day. MADBOY/MINK belted out their best numbers with the audience on their feet all over again asking for more.

More they will get. More will be given. For we have just seen day one of INK 2015. And there’s two more days of intensity, relaxation and intrigue awaiting them. Till then…

INK Women 2014: Live-sketches by Alicia Souza

Illustrator and INK Fellow Alicia Souza was live-sketching all through INK Women 2014 at NCPA. Checkout her delightful illustrations below. (Click on the images to view a larger size)

Read detailed coverage from INK Women here.

INK Women 2013 Session 1 live drawn by Alicia Souza

INK Women 2013 Session 2 live drawn by Alicia Souza

Watch Alicia Souza’s INKtalk here
Visit to see more of her work.