“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Homosapiens are the only extant species of humans. Yes, I, you and all of us reading this, but this isn’t all magic. Erectus, Rudolfensis, Neanderthalensis, Ergaster were some other humans coexisting with us sapiens some thousands of years ago. But we rose amidst the stronger, taller, and the immune ones. The reason behind this peculiar dominance stands as ideas. It is ideas that have allowed us to dominate every other species and this prominence is exactly what TED celebrates.
TED Conferences LLC (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an American media organization that posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. Standing on the shoulder of the successful first edition, TEDxVSSUT organised its second edition on 10th November to bring a TED-like experience to the community and beyond.
E-Learning Center, the magnum opus of the University stood witness to its first event and a grand one at that. Adhering to the rules and regulations, TEDxVSSUT sized down on the number of speakers but broadened its horizon in every other way. The theme “FAST, FORWARD, FUTURE” opened the door to the visionaries who could sense the edges of the future in the alley of time. Inventions crush barriers and raise the standards but ignorance in this pursuit comes with a price. With this theme, TEDxVSSUT assembled gems who could work against the barriers of the society with an undertone of sensitivity and holistic growth.
On the eve of the main event, a gala dinner was held at Hotel Silver Moon, Sambalpur which welcomed the speakers, faculties of the university and other dignitaries of the district to launch the TEDx VSSUT brochure and officially mark the inception of the event. The main event on D-day was spread across 2 sessions with 4 speakers in each session combined with interactive Q&A sessions, an act by the Official Dramatics Club of the University- EMOTICA, and refreshing breaks to rejuvenate the audience to a rhythm.
The main event’s attraction drew attendees well before the official opening time, bustling the venue with enthusiasm and energy. The first session comprised 4 speakers with illustrious track records and impeccable persona – MP, Loksabha, Aparjita Sarangi; Commissioner of Police Bhubaneswar-Cuttack, Sudhansu Sarangi; Star Sports Presenter and Emcee, Reena D’Souza; and IAS Officer from Manipur, Armstrong Pame.
The event was kickstarted with the host introduction by Atul Saswat on the invading strength of ideas setting the theme in the undercurrent and sparking the speculation of the audience.
Living by “Always Numero Uno“, the first speaker requires little or no introduction. Aparajita Sarangi, formerly an IAS officer, having served as the District Magistrate, Municipal Commissioner, Joint Secretary in Ministry of Rural Development by Govt. of India, MGNREGA and many other coveted positions took the occasion. She emphasised on dreaming big, focus and living for others. She impressed the message of never selling oneself short and aiming for the eye of the fish with her decision to join politics despite her success in administration. Come what may, it’s a crime to dream small.
Easing up the majestic mood, our second speaker, the quintessential Emcee, Reena D’Souza narrated her journey that attained glory by following the guts and adhering to the seemingly distant dreams in tough times. ‘If you are good at something, pursue it with all your heart and never do it free’. The quote joined forces with the audience with her graceful yet piercing talk. She dispelled the myth of believing in perfect moments and emphasised on hustling every now and then. When you are true to yourself, your original self shall reach its desideratum, albeit with deviations now and then.
The third speaker of the event was Sudhansu Sarangi, the best cop in the business. The pin-drop silence marked the arrival of a paragon who precisely and earnestly shared his perspective on governance. Following up on spiritual anarchism, he emphasised the need to move beyond constraints and instilled the need for strength in one’s character. Calling on the “The Great Indian Whataboutery of Law Enforcement“, he put forward the trouble that stereotyping lands on the job of policing. Bringing in accountability in the purview, he urged the audience to come together and grow responsible for the duties to lead the society away from its current mess.
An interactive Q&A session followed the 3 talks which brought the enthusiastic audience on a front to spark conversations and unleash their irresistible internal conflicts. Ranging from topics of dreaming big to bureaucracy, corruption, perspective, it encompassed broad dimensions and drew untold stories from the pages of the lives of the speakers.
The ultimate speaker of the 1st session, Armstrong Pame, aka “The Miracle Man of India” embraced the audience with his irresistible humility and charisma. Titled “Living the dreams”, he began the talk by walking the audience through his journey from childhood to now and the formidable challenges that proved as a stepping stone to help him lead a life of greatness. His accomplishment of building a 100km road without any aid from the government took everyone by awe and inspiration. He concluded with his involvement in sports and leading a few youngsters of the community into the academy of Atletico Madrid, in the world’s football capital, with the message that it is worthwhile living for others and the wave mesmerized the audience. The first session came to an end with a motivating speech by the co-organizer Robin Kumar Patro describing his dream of the event and the will to always strive for better.
With an intermediate lunch break, the 2nd session saw the light side of the event with engaging speakers such as Mira Erda, youngest formula 4 girl racer of India; Ravish Bisht, Ace Sports Anchor; Mayank Rajput, Entrepreneur, and Rahul Kaushik, Writer.
The talk of Mira Erda, aka “The Speed Queen” was preceded by a heart-thumping race footage with tire screeches and insane drifts. Crediting her father for all the success, she narrated her introduction to racing in a very unassuming manner. Striving in a male-dominated sport, the youngest formula 4 girl racer of India emphasised on self-belief and how it kept her formidable in the face of adversity. “When the helmet is on, the world stops” and with this, she sowed the seed of relentless focus and the rewards that come with aiming for the bullseye.
The 6th speaker, Ravish Bisht, took the stage as the “Ace Sports Anchor” and chose Hindi as the language of delivery in a very modest yet enigmatic tone. “There is only place for winners in the world“. Emphasising on the importance of never settling for anything than the best, he unfolded funny tales of predictions on his luck and how he landed up in his profession. With a tale full of ups and downs and yet not giving up, he orchestrated the foundation of doing justice to one’s talents and abilities with an attitude that stands out.
The penultimate speaker, Mayank Rajput, founder of Robomaniax Pvt. Ltd., one of the fastest-growing Robotics Company, drew parallels with the life of engineers and his pursuit of engaging in the evolution of technology to stay ahead in the game. With the mission to empower the engineers with hands-on technologically aided experience, he put forth the facet of artificial intelligence and its emergence to take over human life as we know it today.
The event concluded with the talk of the witty, humorous, author of the book & social media handle “The Melting Words“, Rahul Kaushik. With punchlines embedded in a story of raw inspiration, he nonchalantly unearthed the truth of “procrastination”. With sincerity, he put forward his failures and their role in the making of the sensation that he is. He concluded his talk with the mention of his unmatched devotion for his art and learning from the hurdles rather than getting bogged down by it.
The second interactive Q&A session marked the end of the event that brought together a variety of topics and astonishingly simple yet profound answers, with depth and much-needed wit.
Sic Parvis Magna – Greatness comes from humble beginnings. With this undertone and the theme “FAST. FORWARD. FUTURE” urging to look ahead in the future, E-Cell – VSSUT, Burla successfully conducted another event under the licensee and organizer Chiranjibi Dalabehera and a star-studded core team dedicated to the vision of leading the idea to fruition. With over 150 attendees, the event saw a giant leap from the first edition, cementing its position at the top. With the aid of University administration and the E-learning Center coming to life for the first time, the event stood true to its essence of “Ideas worth spreading“, with a promise to shine again, with no hint for settling with the laurels.