TEDxYouth@Chennai 2011 Speakers

Jayshree Raveendran    

Founder, Ability Foundation

Anyone who has read the papers recently will most definitely recognize Jayshree Raveendran's face. Founder of Ability Foundation, she is considered to be a leader in the disability sector. Over the last 15 years, she has worked with the conviction that there is a need to focus on the potential of disabled people and truly embrace the spirit of inclusion. As her determination to make a change in this field grew, she also spearheaded Success & Ability - India's first cross disability magazine. Ability Foundation today also boasts of a placement wing, a media and publishing wing as well as public programmes. AbilityFest, which comes round once every two years, is an event much anticipated by every member of the public, with or without disabilities. Any interaction with Jayshree immediately reveals the passion she has for her cause and the fire she possesses to continue making a difference. Along with Ability Foundation, she is the mentor for many on their path to empowerment.

Venkat and Srivalli    

Founders, eFarm

With a B.Arch from IIT, Masters in Computer Science from SUNY, NY, and 12 years of experience in IT, Venkat returned to India to start eFarm, a social entrepreneurial firm based in Chennai focusing on the agriculture supply chain .His wife, Srivalli, also gave up her career in banking to join him in his venture. Though they are based in Chennai, they are often caught travelling to remote corners of the country with just a backpack and a netbook! eFarm enables farmers reach markets more efficiently (thus leading to its name) and tackles the inefficiencies required to get agriculture products to our plates. Both husband and wife are visiting faculty at various institutions, giving talks on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to ICT for rural India. eFarm has the distinction of being one of the first agri start-ups in India to get angel funding from private investors (The Mumbai Angels) and has also been a part of a worldwide documentary by leading European TV channels on food supply chain crisis.

Shakthi Girish    

Editor : Galatta Cinema , CIO : Galatta Media .

Shakthi Girish heads and runs one of the biggest and most popular movie publications in India – Galatta Cinema. Born in Bhopal and lived in Indore and Chennai, she comes from a background of design and has worked in the manufacturing sector. She worked at CLRI for a span of time, making beautiful footwear and accessories before hanging up her toolkit for motherhood in 2005. Soon after, she began working for what is now Galatta Media. Often invited to speak on women's welfare and self- and skill-enhancement, she is also a regular judge at children's events. She supports various charities and rehabilitation organizations and loves to read, write and dabble with print-based design. She loves music and the arts and is addicted to travel and adventure sports. Through her life though, she lives by the lesson her father taught her - that she is constantly learning and can never delude herself that she has "arrived" anywhere except at the next level of learning.

Madhavan R    

An engineer from IIT, now a farmer

His love for farming made him quit a job at ONGC and follow his heart. He believes in smart agriculture, where Only 20% of agriculture involves tilling the soil and the rest 80% with engineering skills. Madhavan bypasses the middle men and sells all his farming produce himself. He believes that food insecurity is more threatening than an atom bomb. About 49% of Indian children suffer from under-nourishment. He believes that producing more food is a solution to the problem and he is already walking his talk. Former President Abdul Kalam, visited his farm and acclaimed that “We need not one but a million Madhavans in this country!”

VR Devika    

Cultural Activist

The Founder and Managing Trustee of The Aseema Trust, VR Devika is known for her passion for traditional performing arts and education. She conducts regular workshops on peace education and communication skills for students and teachers. Her list of awards include the Kalasevabharathi for contributions to arts and education, Gnanasamudhra, Satya Vimarshaka Sundaram, Karnataka Rajyothsava award, a lifetime achievement award from the Amir Khusro music academy as well as an honorary citizenship from the Governor of Maryland (USA). The list of countries she has visited for conferences and lectures seems almost endless and includes Cambodia, Finland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and Sweden. A former school teacher known for her use of traditional performing arts as teaching tools, Devika continues as a member of the advisory council of Madras Craft Foundation. A Bharathanatyam disciple of the Dhananjayans, she gives lectures on the theory and practice of the dance and culture of India and is a freelance art critic contributing to leading publications. Another feather to her multicoloured hat is that she is a state government approved cultural tour guide and a story teller.

Kaustav Sen Gupta    

Award winning academician, Youth Ethnographer

Kaustav SenGupta, an award winning academician, youth ethnographer, color psychologist, guerrilla socio-psychologist, is the Associate Professor of National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai. His more than a decade expertise has helped many youth focused brands to restructure themselves in Indian subcontinent. Kaustav has consulted for Nike-USA, BBC-UK, Knights & Walker-UAE, Consumerfaces- Singapore, Tata International Limited, Cscout-Japan, Redscout-USA, Skull Candy-Japan etc. Kaustav also heads a research & direction team of young Indians which is organically growing and now has a network of more than 1,500 young trend-spotters/ youth trend scouts across India. This initiative is called INgene (www.ingene.blogspot.com), the first ever youth trend research initiative in India recognized by many international experts as the best open source for youth trend insights in India. His association with Ted Polhemus (www.tedpolhemus.com), youth anthropologist and subculture analyst, has helped him to derive a valued theory about the differentiations as well as unique characteristics of Indian youth from their global peers. He has established the THEORY OF ADOPTED DIFFERENTIATION which defines the root of Indian youth socio-psychological segmentation. He is being recently interviewed by BBC for the program “Secrets of The Superbrands” to deliver his expert opinion on youth branding scenario in India. He is also the member of prestigious Youth Research Partners (YRP) and has intelligence sharing collaboration with Rubypseudo-London and PYMCA-London. His articles are published regularly at The Hindu, Apparel, Image Business of Fashion, The Smart Manager, Sports International India, Jet-Wing etc. Check him at www.kaustavsengupta.com

Kartikeya Gouthi and Ishan Bhatt    

Highschool students

The student speakers of this year's event have travelled quite a bit to be with us today. Kartikeya Gouthi and Ishan Bhatt are here from Riverside School, Ahmedabad to represent the thousands of youth who are making a mark in their own worlds. Both Grade 11 students, Kartikeya is an avid reader with an interest in Economics. Very inquisitive in nature, he takes an active part in adventure sports and the great outdoors! In the long run, he wants to travel to exotic lands and cover the world! His co-speaker, Ishan, is often found behind a camera or a telescope, sometimes even up in trees! An ardent wildlife and nature explorer, he loves photography as a means to capture moments! He is a very curious and inquisitive person, offering fresh and inspiring ideas to any and all around him.

Lakshmi Narasimha Vijaya Rajagopal Seshadri Sharma Rajesh Raman aka BLAAZE    

Rap Artist And Playback Singer

Blaaze (born Lakshmi Narasimha Vijaya Rajagopal Seshadri Sharma Rajesh Raman) is a rap artist and a popular playback singer in Indian films. Born in Chennai and later raised in Zambia, educated in England and graduated from United States, he started performing breakdance when he was nine. At the age of 16, he began his rapping career and five months later, he produced Zambia's first ever music video. In 2002, he entered the Indian film industry with Rajnikanth's Baba. Ever since, he has performed and written multiple songs under Rahman's direction. Apart from his work with other dierctors, he has also composed the official UN Anthem for Poverty “Pray For Me Brother”. Thanks to his dedication to social causes, he was voted MTV Youth Icon of the Year 2008. His band, ZambeZi funK, is now ready with their debut album, funKalistiC syllaBleZ. His other work is largely issue oriented music ranging from religious issues in India to banning of corrupt police. In September 2011, 'Time For Gandhi', his debut album and India's first real hip hop 'Protest' album was released.

Catch more about this star on - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AmS3bpGEU0

Sridhar Vembu    

Founder and CEO, ZOHO Corporation

Sridhar Vembu obtained his B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT, Madras, and PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1994. He served as a systems design engineer in Qualcomm from 1994-96, focusing on CDMA for satellite communications, where he had the privilege of working with some of the leading minds in wireless communications.

In 1996, driven by a passion to play a role in the emerging technology industry in India, he reinvented himself as a software entrepreneur. Along with friends and his brothers, he co-founded what became AdventNet where he has served as CEO since 2000. Privately held AdventNet has grown to over 600 employees, with all the growth funded internally, without requiring outside investment. AdventNet is a diversified software company, with a portfolio of successful products. In 2005, AdventNet introduced the Zoho.com suite of online office productivity applications, and has emerged as an early leader in this nascent market. Driven by the learning needs of his son diagonsed with autism, AdventNet has created Jambav.com, an interactive learning and entertainment site for kids. AdventNet is pioneering a new approach to higher education in India, combining class room instruction with hands-on experience. This is helping under-privileged students in India enter the world of technology. AdventNet's approach fits Peter Drucker's thesis that a fundamental reinvention of higher education is needed, one led by employers, even in the American context, where college costs are rising inexorably. Sridhar believes AdventNet's experiments in this respect offer a market-based alternative to the increasingly costly higher education system.

Hari Menon    

Nature Photographer

Standing tall at 6 ‘3, it is not difficult to notice Hari Menon roaming around with a camera trying to capture nature’s bounty through his lens. An instinctive photographer, his magical touch is evident in the numerous photos he has taken ranging from stills to faces, and abstract to reality. He is known to capture images from day to day life and render them immortal. His play of colours and shapes in the photos he clicks talk deeply about his passion and love for photography. He hails from a beautiful village near Cochin called North Paravur. Some of his prominent works includes " Close to the gods " documenting the dynamic ritual art form Theyyam of north Kerala,and " People from the peak " photo stories from the Himalayas that pictured the perpetual life styles of the common folks of the mountain.

His works have been published in various international magazines and books. Currently working more into the contemporary possibilities of picturising Theyyam not just as a spiritual being but as the reincarnation of Human Gods of the malabar. His eye for detail is completely self taught and it is his love fora the unknown and the need to capture it through the visual medium that made him follow his dreams to become a freelance travel photographer. There are limitations to the use of language, but for Hari it is through the photographs that he speaks.

Mansoor Khan    

FIlm Director turned organic farmer

Mansoor Khan is known to the country as the director of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikaner. Qayamat... won seven FilmFare awards including Best Director and Best Film while Jo Jeeta...was India's first feature film based purely on the background of sports. His telefilm 'Umberto' was also the first to be shot and post-produced completely in video format. Despite being a success in the glamourous world of Bollywood, he moved with his family to Coonoor where lives on a 22 acre organic cheesemaking farm. An alumni of IIT-Madras, he went on to study at Cornell University and then, MIT, USA. Full of passion for his field of work, he brings with him a totally different take on the world.

Omar Sait    

Director, Gatsby

Omar Sait is a graduate from University of Maryland, College Park and currently the director of Gatsby Collection Pvt Ltd. The perfect example of the 'Youth' part of this event, Omar is a young, successful businessman in charge of the day-to-day operations of his firm. Being the 5th generation to join the family business, this 27-year-old entrepreneur carries on his shoulders a 100-year-old lineage. The scion of the Gatsby family, his ancestors have been in the fabric business for the last century and young Omar Sait has taken over the reins recently. An entrepreneur whose motivation comes largely from the joy of "seeing a thought become something tangible", Omar has recently begun to diversity from his family's stronghold on textiles to something completely different - food. In his own words, "To be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to do everything. So, I'm the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker."

Saroop Oommen    

Manager-Arts, Unwind Centre and Music Artist

Actively involved in building the live music concert in India, Saroop Oommen currenctly works with Unwind Centre (a charitable organization under the Performing Arts section) as the Manager - Arts. Through his organization, Saroop helps form and inform the Indian music ecosystem, creating platforms and maintaining an indelible presence for young talent to be developed. He is an invited columnist for NXg and MetroPlus, two supplements of The Hindu on articles relating to music, artist and album reviews. Apart from this, he also four schools of music in Chennai and Bangalore, creates contemporarily relevant music syllabii content and is a curator of workshops for professional artists. He plays the acoustic guitar, has performed indie-styled compositions, is a voice trainer and sound engineer and has also produced two albums.

Chetan Korada    


Even before you get to know this young man, his email id reads "racer@xxxx.com". At first sight, you know that racing has always been a wild passion for this youngster. Known for his extraordinary ability to race and his zeal to be on the track, Chetan Korada is clear that his prosthetic legs are a minor detail in his life. With ample support from his parents and other members of his extended family, Chetan strongly believes in chasing his dreams and achieving his ambitions. His journey began in 2002 when he began visiting various go karting centres across the country. Later, he graduated to go karting championships and then proceeded to racing. In March 2007, a test drive of Formula Swifts (1300cc) changed his life and made him take up racing as a serious career option. In 2009, he was crowned "Summer Cup Champion" and went on to achieve 16 podium finishes in the next year in the Formula Maruti category. Forever focussed and determined, Chetan has chalked out a plan for the next year and hopes to keep climbing up the racing ladder.


Music Band

This band, comprising of 2 members, is dualistic just like so much else in the world - good and evil, man and woman, the list could go on. Coming from completely different backgrounds and holding different points of view, Manoj Sreekumar and Mihir Ranganathan are two guys with one shared passion - Music!

A resident of Chennai with roots from Kerala, Manoj is a self-taught guitarist who has played with several rock bands. He finished his MBA and then worked in the Automobile and the Banking & Financial Services Industry before following his true passions - Music & Art. Today, he is a writer, conducts and organizes events, occasionally dabbles in art and is a full time musician. A resident of Chennai with Tamil, Konkani and Maharashtrian roots, Mihir has been trained in Hindustani Vocal, Carnatic Violin and the guitar. An advertising professional with an interest in music, art and food, Mihir spends his spare time overdosing on music, trying out food and sketching. A ‘soft’ corner for heavy music and its subgenres doesn’t prevent him from enjoying the classics and popular hits from the 80s and 90s. In DUALITY, with his band mate Manoj, he finds an opportunity to pay tribute to his influences, test musical ideas and most importantly evolve as a musician and performing artist.


TEDxYouth@Chennai 2012 Speakers


TEDxYouth@Chennai 2010 Speakers