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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Idea Caravan- Food for thought

I have written about select talks from TEDxGateway Mumbai, December 2012. (Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.)


There are several other beautiful talks with inspiring and innovative ideas by several other speakers. These were my favorite ones. 

Angad Nadkarni

Angad Nadkarni is a young hacker who explains hacking in simple starts with explaining, what hacking is, in simple terms. He presents the sorry plight of Indian education system where students have too many sources such as text books, guides, reference books, coaching class material, online resources etc. He refers to most of these things as Noise.  

Angad and his team have come up with an application to hack the examination system and provide students with the material and questions they should be focusing on.
As per Angad, Examify uses complex algorithms to mine a lot of data and come up with important material.  Natural Language processing and machine learning are applied to identify trends in question papers and come up with the important questions, students should be focusing on. The big issue being discussed in this talk is the sorry state of Indian educational system with innumerable sources of information, but limited sources of knowledge.

I have some other views. Examify tries to game the examination. This is not a good way to study or learn. What Examify is doing internally may be something exceptional (running all sophisticated algorithms and stuff). But any app that helps a student focus on important questions, beats the fun of learning. If Examify is successful in what it's trying to do, students using Examify would have an edge over others. 

Video of Angad's talk is available on 

Gaurav Tekriwal

The big issue talked about by Gaurav Tekriwal in the TED Talk is on the mediocre mathematical abilities of adults around the world and how Vedic mathematics can be a solution for it.

I loved the short video by Gaurav Tekriwal on Vedic mathematics. Gaurav Tekriwal is the president of The Vedic Maths Forum in India. He has also been instrumental in winning a Vedic maths copyright case.  I myself have known a bit about Vedic maths and other speed systems of maths like the Trachtenberg method.

He introduces some basic applications of Vedic mathematics. Vedic mathematics makes maths and multiplication simpler and faster. I myself have some experience of using some simple tricks for finding square of any two digit number ending with 5.  Learning Vedic maths is simple way to extend your computing abilities. Vedic maths can help various types of people become better at basic maths.  As per Gaurav, most people around the world like UK, South Africa, have mediocre mathematics skills. Hence Vedic maths can help people improve their math abilities and evade fear of mathematics.  Gaurav Tekriwal explains the beauty and heritage behind Vedic mathematics.

Vedic maths can truly improve the mathematical abilities of our population. I have found most adults to be mediocre or poor at mathematics. Though, mathematical skills are not essential for success in many other fields, having a good mathematical brain is never a disadvantage and Vedic mathematics seems to be a simpler way to achieve that.

Video to the talk by Gaurav Tekriwal is available on 

Evan Grae Davis

The video is about the social problem of female genocide in India.
Evan Grae Davis talks about this grave issue of gendercide. In the starting section,  of the video, a woman casually mentions the way she buried about 8 female infants because their household wanted boy babies.  Evan Grae Davis has been involved in many documentaries recording the human needs and sufferings.

He introduces the problem of gendercide in India. He also presents some statistics about the female infanticide. One child policy of China has resulted in grave problems with skewed sex ratios. Globally, about 200 million women are missing due to gendercide.  He has directed a documentary "It's a girl" based on his views on the global problem of Gendercide.

Video to Evan's talk is available on 

Cynthiya Koenig

The big issue in this TED talk is the amount of time and effort spent by women in rural India on collecting and carrying water for their families.

Cynthiya Koenig focuses on the plight of women carrying 20 liter water containers on their head. She explains the adverse effects of carrying 20 liters of water every day on their head such as spinal cord injuries, head and neck injuries etc. The time spent by women on collecting water is time wasted. She introduces an innovative product called Water Wheel which enables people to collect water and roll the water wheel on the ground.

Water Wheel is an amazing product which saves almost 35 hours per week for women. WaterWheel is a 20 gallon water drum which also has other possible uses like energy generation, filtration, advertising, drip irrigation etc. 

The product looks very promising and may be answer to the tedious conventional methods of carrying water on the head. This story is truly inspiring and could be a great product to improve productivity in rural parts of India where women spend a significant amount of their time carrying and collecting water.

Video to Cynthiya's talk is available on 

Arunachalam Muruganantham

Arunachalam Muruganantham is an innovator from rural Coimbatore in South India. He identified the problem of unhygienic practices adopted by rural women during their menstruation. The commonly available sanitary pads were just too expensive for most women in rural India.

He felt the need of a low cost sanitary pad in rural India. He observed the unhygienic practice of using clothes as sanitary pad because the commercially available pads were beyond the reach of rural women. He experimented thoroughly and came up with an innovative way of manufacturing low cost sanitary pads. He narrates wittily about the circumstances which led him to innovate and come up with this solution.

His story is truly inspiring. The way he experimented on the pads with goat's blood and stuff like that. This is a very rare individual who ventured into an area about which most mean would never talk openly in most places. 


Video to Arunachalam Muruganantham's talk is available on 


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