Chat with Thomas

admin   December 1st, 2012


Sharanya Haridas is the first person I interviewed in my life. She is a lovely girl, a  wonderful mix of different spectrums – Economics, Poetry and even Philosophy.  Question her on how she is able to balance all three and pat comes the reply that  poetry can live parallel to economics and just because you are into economics it  doesn’t mean, you can’t write poetry.

I asked her if she was a Leftist or free market economist and she replied that she  loves to be liberal. Her evident pride in 1991 liberalization is probably the reason  for her topic ‘Generation in Transition’, narrating how the post-liberalization  generation view modernization and tradition with a philosophical touch.

Her role models are many including philosophers Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzche as well as business woman Helen Gurley Brown. She likes reading as well, both prose like Malcolm Gladwell and Ayn Rand as well as Chicklit. She even loves contemporary Indian poems especially by Kamala Das.



Looking both intelligent and handsome at the same time, Vivek Karunakaran’s fashion skills were already at work. His favourite fashion designer is John Galliano because his designs always create some kind of a drama and is always new, different and even outrageous. He also loves Rajesh Pratap Singh’s clean and simple designs and thinks Rohit Bal is the Indian equivalent of John Galliano.

When asked what he likes about fashion, he says he would rather use the word ‘style’. He says that there is a style in everything – the way we eat, the way we dress up, the way we walk, stand, sit, the way our room is and so on. He says that he has issues with celebrities’ dressing up because they try to be who they aren’t. He says that celebrities don’t want to dress up stylishly as they think it is taboo and instead should take the lead in setting the trend.

Ask him what his other interests are and he says if not for fashion, he would be everywhere under the sun. He loves dancing, bartending, cooking and even bathroom singing. He is even trained in Latin American dancing!

His favourite movies are The Shawshank Redemption and Cinderella Man. He wants the youth of today to dream and take risks and believes that nothing comes on a platter.



Her profile called her as ‘illusionist’. When asked to explain that, she said they were people who  performed magic to entertain the audience. These tricks seemed impossible or supernatural but  were actually just science and technology. Illusionists were just entertainers.

In her talk, she spoke of hoe how people put their belief in something and not on themselves.  When  asked how she encourages education on such issues, she says that wherever she performs she speaks  of how her magic is just tricks – how one’s beliefs become one’s thoughts which become one’s  reality.

Having been into magic since her childhood, Suhani does not seem to have any regrets. She says  whatever she is today is because of the childhood she got. Instead of saying she wasted it, she  believes she leveraged it. Other than magic, she has started a mind-nourishing clinic in Goa, the first  of its kind in India. The centre treats stress, negative thinking and depression. She has also authored  five books and conducts seminars on mind-control and karma while also being a corporate trainer.

In her opinion, the youth in India today have the potential but are lacking seriousness. She says that  the earlier you get serious about your career, the quicker you make your career.



I asked these young boys how they got involved in app development. They replied  that from they were interested in computers since a young age. They started to  learn basic programming in java and then learnt android development when their  father bought them a Galaxy S3 android phone. Later they learnt iPhone app  development.

When asked who helped them on this journey, the boys said it was their teachers  and parents. They accepted that initially they did not receive any help from their  school but this soon improved. They said their father would tell them that  entrepreneurship and teamwork are always good and their mother taught them of  the Wright brothers building a plane. Even though these boys are into app development at this tender age, they are like normal kids in the classroom. It is only outside they turn into VP and CEO.

When asked how they came up with the idea of creating an app for traffic management, they said the increase in traffic today doesn’t let them to go school on time and they want to solve that. They have come up with an idea of crowd-sourcing traffic information instead of building costly infrastructure. In the future, they want to build tablets in the future and make it useful for rural India.



Her relationship with music began since the day she was born thanks to her parents always playing  music to her. She first learnt the piano, changing to singing only when she was twelve. For the last  two years, she has turned professional.

Maalavika is also into women’s empowerment and child development, saying there is a lot to be  done in these areas. She wants to start a forum for women and address their issues through that  while also researching what needs to be done for women.

Her album ‘Deceptive’ is releasing soon. She wants to convey that almost all things are deceptive. All  looks are deceptive. She says that in this album, she has tried out new kind of songwriting where  lyrics would have two sides to it, like looking at a thing in two different ways. She agrees the industry  is male-dominated and has a long way to go.

Her favourite music director is the Mozart of Madras, AR Rahman and she was born the year he took  the film world by storm!



The blame for her entry into sailing falls squarely on her mother! Her mother did Marine Microbiology in US and in which sailing was part of the course. When her mother came to Chennai,  she enrolled herself in the Royal Madras Yacht Club and Rohini stepped into the boat when she was only a year old. A water baby indeed!

She is involved in the Global Shapers Community as well, an initiative of the World Economic Forum because there was too much talk with no action. This community comprises of entrepreneurs and high achievers between their 20s and 30s who can think globally and act locally. They are yet to decide on the project on which they would be embarking on.

The sailing scene in India, especially with respect to infrastructure, is centred around Mumbai. Even the World Championship was conducted in Mumbai, where Rohini struck gold. However, weather often plays spoilsport in Mumbai. Though Chennai is well suited for the sport, few know of it since it is located in a remote area. In her opinion, more than infrastructure, awareness is needed as many do not know the sport exists.

Asked what she likes and dislikes about our country after having travelled so much, she says we often think countries like the US and UK have richer sports federations but often, athletes there face problems as well. Yet, the gender bias in India is high with people even predicting that she would not be sailing for too long a time. This makes her feel really sad. Yet, when compared to middle-Eastern countries, the scenario is still better. However, mentalities in our country need to change.


If you read his profile, you would know that he was first an English master in a  school and then he went on to advertising. When asked about handling career  change, he surprised me by saying he was first a lawyer. He says he got a lucky  break from this profession when he got a job as a school teacher in Darjeeling and so  The packed up to embark on this new journey. Later, when he found that he missed  theatre a lot, he quit to join a dramatics group but his father’s advise to enter the  corporate world led him to advertising. Having worked in both theatre and film, he  says he likes theatre as an actor but film as a medium of change. Om Puri is his  favourite actor as he enters the skin of the character and lives it through.

If he were to be the Education Minister for a day, he said he would promote virtual education now that NCERT has begun digitalizing its book content. India, in his opinion, has always taken the technological leap, jumping to mobile phones when landlines became difficult to come by. Tablets would be the delivery platform for such content and software will be used to monitor attendance levels of teachers in rural schools. His role model is his grandfather and he has immense respect for Mahatma Gandhi and Chacha Nehru, especially after acting like them. His favourite teacher is a Frank Youngman from Oxford who encouraged him to write.



Her profile says that she is one of the most inspiring young social entrepreneurs of our time, widely recognized by the Economic Times, CII and other corporate houses.

According to her, social entrepreneurship does not need a definition and is rather a more sustainable version of social work. She said her most difficult challenge was convincing her parents who asked her what she would do for a living, not considering this a full time job. When asked what she would do if she was given control over the Ministry of Child and Women Development, she replied she would ensure that grassroots projects get implemented and understand where the money that is being spent goes.

Apart from Protsahan, she says she was in love with the advertising world and today, is a consultant for corporate which provides her bread and butter. She adores Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert and singing. She wants the youth to follow their heart and not get scared. She advises against getting married at 25 and says there is nothing wrong in putting that off till you are 40.

It was great having all of them at TEDxYouth@Chennai. Hopefully, they enjoyed the event as much as the organizers did!

- Thomas Arun

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11 Days to go for TEDxYouth@Chennai

admin   November 5th, 2012

11 Days to go for TEDxYouth@Chennai event. Do mark your calendar as the countdown begins.

TEDxYouth@Chennai is one of the TEDxYouthDay events happening all around the world on November 17th. The events are designed to empower and inspire young people.

3 Years in a row, this time the event is going to be bigger with young inspiring speakers from various domains. The speakers are young at heart who follow their passion in their respective lives & fields. They are unique in their own way, be it in social work, entrepreneurship or entertainment.

With a cheerful, vibrant team to back up, TEDxYouth@Chennai licensee Karthick Sundar is gearing up for the D-day. The constant running & meeting with different people is common scenario nowadays, be it in IIT Madras, CCD or Karthick’s own abode with a welcome smile from Manisha. As we, the organizing members share the bites from chocolate cake or chips during our head jammed meet, the process unknowingly has helped us to work as a determined team to make it happen well. Signing off with finger crossed.

ShaswatiBasu Sengupta


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And we are back! hatrick year and all that

admin   November 5th, 2012

Mark your calendars. Set your reminders. TEDxYouth@Chennai 2012 is on November 17th, 2012. It is a Saturday so no excuses.
This year, our speakers are as young as young can get. They have all done inspiring things in their own fields. They are all passionate and have followed their dreams. We present to you this year, an enthralling mix of magic, social work, entertainment and business. They come from all walks of life, from across the country and soon, they will all be sharing one stage.

As an organizer this year, the journey has been as fascinating as ever. The team is newer, bigger and is geared up for a great show. Energy levels are high and adrenaline is in free flow! We’ve had meetings and photo shoots, conference calls and email threads. We have a countdown going in our heads, on the website, amongst ourselves. We are determined to make it happen, and happen well.

Keep an eye out on our website for updates but for now, book your tickets . Be there.

We promise, you won’t regret it.

- Yashasvini Rajeshwar

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Calling for young reporters!

admin   November 7th, 2011

What to be part of a global phenomenon? What to catch some TEDx action close to home? Want to  do more than just watch?

Do you enjoy writing? Has journalism always been a passion? Are you good with words?

Do you have a blog? Do you believe in the power of social media? Is tweeting almost an obsession?

If your answers were largely ‘Yes’es, we have just what you are looking for.

This year, at TEDxYouth@Chennai, we are looking for Youth Reporters to report news, pen thoughts, articulate impressions and document all the various emotions and feedback that is bound to flood the venue. You will have to:1. live report on Twitter (on your own account or the event’s account) in your local language (always using the hashtag #TEDxYouth for every Tweet).2. live report on the event’s Facebook page in your local language3. write a page reflection in your local language and submitting it to the TEDx Tumblr blog: http://tedx.tumblr.com4. follow up after the event to ensure the formalities are complete and you get due recognition
Write to us as with your name, age and why you would like to be a TEDxYouth@Chennai Youth Reporter on or before 8th November, 2011.

Hope to see you guys there!

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Thank you – Part 3

Yashasvini Rajeshwar   November 24th, 2010

Here is the hatrick post of this series. This one is dedicated to the faces behind our look, our team spirit and the way in which we made sure every attendee at TEDxYouth@Chennai was registered, given a badge and escorted to the auditorium with minimal hassle. Basically, this blog is about Revmakx, Somu Sundar and Adhavan.

Revmakx is a three member team consisting of Vinod David, Amrith and Yuvraj. While Vinodh is the business maker, Amrith works with the designs and Yuvraj is the official developer. TEDxYouth@Chennai‘s banners, posters and any other visual material was all thanks to these young men and their help!

Somu Sundar, who most often answers to the call of ‘Somuuu!!!’, is the one with the witty comebacks and quick reflexes. For our event, he was the behind-the-scenes pillar, helping with live streaming, hospitality for the speakers and entertainment for the audience. On D-Day, Somu was the one person everyone in need of some help could turn to.

Adhavan Rajadurai is the marketing head at infySEC and has been instrumental in the successful completion of about 30 national and international programs. For Saturday, he reached out to various city colleges to invite their students and staff to help ensure that TEDxYouth@Chennai benefited as many people as it could. Also, if you were able to pick up your ticket without a fuss, it is Adhavan you have to thank!

TEDxYouth@Chennai was not only about those of us who got on stage and were seen on the outside. We could not have put up such a great show if it wasn’t for the rock solid support we received from people like the Revmakx team, Somu and Adhavan. They represent the foundation behind TEDxYouth@Chennai.

Adhavan (extreme left) and his team working at the registration desk

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Thank You – Part 2

Yashasvini Rajeshwar   November 23rd, 2010

As selfish as this may sound, my second blog post of this series is going to be dedicated to all of us – the student team of TEDxYouth@Chennai.

TED talks have created a brand for themselves and it is a known fact that everyone connected TED(x) talks are beneficiaries of the trickle down effect and their own brand value raises up a notch. Being students from the city’s schools and colleges, a few of us had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be associated with a brand like TED and experienced people behind the Chennai team very early in our professional lives. Truth be told, our professional lives haven’t even started officially yet! So this blog post is dedicated to us and to the work we put in, the experience we gained and the memories we gathered.

As the students wing of the organizing team, we learnt a lot – both by doing as well as by merely looking and listening. The others made us feel our opinions mattered and we had an equal say in helping finalize speakers. We were given a free reign to learn the skills necessary to organize an event of this scale. We were allowed the space to explore the avenues available to us and we were given the confidence that lest anything go wrong, we always have guidance behind us. Whenever we were in need of a word of motivation, we got a paragraph, sometimes even an essay!

The core members of the students team must be mentioned or I would not be doing credit to this post. Ladies and gentlemen, here is presenting Pratik Bothra, Lakshiya Reddy, Vishruth Venkat, Nitin Jayakrishnan, Vignesh Raju, Shreya Murali and me, Yashasvini Rajeshwar. Each one of us did our bit. Each one of us put in our 200% and our phone bills will be able to prove it to you, thanks to the late night conference calls! Each one of us will carry back tales to tell and friendships that we picked up along the way.

Special mention to Nitin’s confidence on stage and the ease with performed as my co-compere, Shreya’s constant willingness to get in touch with the right people to make sure the event went off smoothly (she was responsible for ensuring accommodation for the speakers) , Pratik’s silent and wholehearted helpfulness, Lakshiya’s tireless efforts to make sure TEDxYouth@Chennai benefits the most people, Vishruth’s attention to detail and meticulous following up which made us all keep moving and Vignesh’s efficient management of the technology on D-day and the presence of mind with which he handled any issues he was faced with.

Personally, it was great working with you guys and as a team, I think we are taking a lot away from this experience and this exposure. TEDxYouth@Chennai isn’t going to be something we will forget very soon.

The 'youth' at TEDxYouth@Chennai 2010

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Thank you – Part 1

Yashasvini Rajeshwar   November 23rd, 2010

Samuel Eddy and Kiruba Shankar - the mentors behind the show!

Now that TEDxYouth@Chennai is behind us, there are a lot of people to thank. As cliched and diplomatic as it may sound, the event just would not have been the same without them. The team meetings, the atmosphere, the efficiency with which the entire event happened would not been possible without the guiding forces that all of us had in the form of Kiruba Shankar and Samuel Eddy. Kiruba is the CEO of Business Blogging which is deep into social media. Though he was flying in and out of the city constantly, his words of wisdom and advise through midnight emailing helped us all keep the spirit up and make decisions faster. Eddy is currently working for a shipping company, was a planter at some point and is, of course, the life of the party. Our once-weekly then almost-daily meetings would not be the same if it wasn’t for Eddy’s jokes, his sense of humour and his esay going spirit. Especially for us in the students team, the confidence he had in us was instrumental in us believing in ourselves and putting on the show that we did.

This post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention our licensee holder Karthick Sundar (an activist, designer and philantropist), the man behind TEDxYouth@Chennai’s e-persona Sandeep Varma (also from Business Blogging) and the T of our TED, Vinod Senthil (an ethical hacker with infysec). Karthick’s midnight phone calls, constant messaging and frequent emailing definitely paid off and he was the man we all turned to when we hit a blind end. Somehow, the answers never ceased to come! Sandeep is the quiet yet hyper efficient one on the team. While the rest of us bring the roof down during meetings, his voice is hardly ever heard. Yet, any improvement that needs to be made on the website, or any bloggers/tweeters that we needed to rope in for the event, Sandeep would take only minutes to figure it all out. All feedback that our website ( was user-friendly and informative is all his. Vinod is the other pillar of strength to the team. Starting from mikes arrangements to ticket sales and technical doubts, he is the one we turn to.

Everyone had a part to play to make this event a success. A great team often has great leaders up front. These, ladies and gentlemen, were our leaders!

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TEDxYouth @Chennai >> STARS Line-up >> Jayakrishnan

karthick sundar   November 19th, 2010


A Chartered and Cost Accountant by qualification, V. Jayakrishnan is the secretary of Padma Sarangapani Matriculation group of schools in Chennai. He is the founder director of V.V.Rajan & Co. Pvt. Ltd., a leading Publishing house in Chennai. The company publishes 300 titles of school textbooks, which are being used by 3,500 schools in South India. In the last 5 years, the company has diversified into many fields like newspaper publishing, with its 13-edition neighbourhood newspaper, Apollo Times, real estate-Vaikund Estates and educational multi media- Digi Class. It has recently entered into a partnership with an American firm to supply Standard Aptitude Test(SAT) books for American schools.

A dynamic entrepreneur, Jayakrishnan has introduced many innovations in the school. He has been responsible for introducing effective teaching methodologies in the school like using mind mapping and using technology and multi media for effective learning. He is the brain behind the annual Science Expo- Synergy in which he ensures that every student participates, with the motto- Learning by Doing. His networking skills, good market sense and visionary approach have made him a leader in the field.

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TEDxYouth @Chennai >> STARS Line-up >> Manoj Chelvanambi

karthick sundar   November 19th, 2010

Manoj is currently a standard 12 student of Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram, Kilpauk. Constantly driven by the need to make his surroundings a better place to live in, Manoj has made a significant contribution by joining the Young Indians (Yi) student body. He had always volunteered for the pro-social events organized by this body; one of which includes carnivals for the specially able on the World Disability day. He is also one of those students who sees a limitless number of domains where he can exert his influence. He is an avid quizzer and has taken part in a number of local as well as national quiz competitions.

He also enjoys performing arts. For which, he is elected as the cultural secretary of his school. He extends his interest in sports for socially benefitting activities like for being a pack leader in cycle rallies organized by the ‘Young Indians’ against cyber crime. Manoj is also a long time tennis player who has consistently been ranked in the top 15% in the nation. He was a part of the South Indian delegation for the Young Indians national summit, 2010, held in New Delhi where he was one of the 8 speakers across the nation to speak in a national showcase event on India’s development. Being a science student in school, Manoj has taken part in ecological conservation events in the reserve forests of Nanmangalam and has volunteered to promote afforestation on World Environment day as a part of Yi. Manoj is one of those students who stays positive and never looks back. He can be described, in one word, as eclectic.

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TEDxYouth @Chennai >> STARS Line-up >> Nikila Srinivasan

karthick sundar   November 18th, 2010


Nikila Srinivasan is a computer science engineer with a passion for writing and technology. Having completed her bachelors degree in engineering at Chennai, she is currently a graduate student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC. Studying Global Communication, she specializes in information technology and communication in international affairs. Nikila has been a professional writer since she was 15 and was a columnist for a national youth magazine for over four years.Her successful column was compiled into two books that have received great response. She also authored a book about the history of a universal temple in south India. Nikila was an active organizer of a national youth personality pageant, ‘The Teen of the Year’ for over five years, after she won the national title ‘Teen of the Year 2003′. She has been instrumental in building a strong team of young organizers who continue to take the youth movement forward.

Nikila holds the unique honour of being one of India’s torchbearers during the Athens 2004 Olympic torch relay, an event that went down in world history as the first of its kind for the Olympics. She was one of the handful of civilians chosen for the honour. Nikila has been part of a vibrant, young magazine ‘The Score Magazine’, based in Chennai. She continues to stay on board the magazine as the Editor-in-Chief, working remotely. ‘The Score Magazine’, in print since 2007, has grown to become a niche music magazine that caters to the local music scene while incorporating diverse and global musical elements and has recently expanded to Bengaluru as well. Nikila is an avid reader, music enthusiast, and writer. She has been a speaker at the prestigious Fortune Global CEO Forum, representing the Indian youth and was also recognized by Google India as a finalist for their Women in Engineering award. She hopes to merge her love for technology, creativity and communication for a career in international development and management while pursuing her diverse interests.

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