TEDxGLIMGurgaon 2019 “Odyssey” at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon

“Ideas are worth spreading”. This is the ideology that the popular media organization TED Conferences believes in and personifies through its widely acclaimed TED Talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. What gained root as a platform to share ideas on technology and design, has now also become a major source of inspirational talks from people who have been through immense struggles and made the most out of not just opportunities, but also hard-hitting failures, only to rise to the pinnacle of their lives. This has enabled TED to broaden its ideology to encompass motivation to go hand in hand with ideas that can shape the course of history.

TEDx is an independently organized event, licensed by TED. On 2nd February, 2019, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon hosted its second TEDx event at its Gurgaon campus, inviting 7 speakers from across the country to come and inspire the students with tales of their Odysseys. Yes, “Odyssey”, the timeless Greek epic that has inspired thought-leaders around the world to put their heart and soul into a relentless journey in pursuit of goals otherwise perceived impossible, was the theme for the event this year.

Prof. Debashish Sanyal, Director of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, inaugurated the event by narrating the story of the Greek hero Odysseus, King of Ithaca, and the epic poem based on his battles that laid the foundation of Odyssey. The event saw an esteemed panel of speakers which included Visually-Impaired stand-up comedian and social entrepreneur Nidhi Goyal, Miss Deaf Asia 2018 Nishtha Dudeja, Lt. Cdr. Pratibha Jamwal, acid-attack survivor, brand ambassador and actress Anmol Rodriguez, fashion blogger Riya Jain, social activist and entrepreneur Dr. Hosne-Ara Begum, and educationist Dr. Umashankar Venkatesh. These speakers had come to inspire the students to pursue their dreams against all odds and never let any situation be a reason for giving up, through their own journeys which they undertook with extreme courage and grit. Let us now dive deep into the Odysseys of these remarkable individuals.

Listen to Your Voice, and Cancel out the Noise: Nidhi Goyal, a disability rights and gender justice activist, who is also the founding member of the non-profit organization Rising Flame, is India’s first female standup comic artist who uses humor to create a paradigm shift towards disability and gender. At a young age, Nidhi was diagnosed with an ailment which eventually took away her eyesight. This opened the door to many negative thoughts from all around which could have discouraged her from leading a normal life or pursuing her dreams. But her family built a wall around her, a circle of support, which protected her from all the negativity, and encouraged her to cancel the noise out. She emphasized on the fact that there will be barriers all along our journey, and it is up to us to decide what we want to do with them. After all, it’s not about what can be done, given your circumstances, but about what you really want to do.

Breaking the Stigma: Dr. Hosne-Ara Begum is the founder of ThengamaraMohilaSabuj Sangha (TMSS), a women-oriented organization in Bangladesh which strives to alleviate poverty, empower women, and improve the socio-economic infrastructure of Bangladesh. Dr. Begum was born in an era plagued with stigma against women. She lived her life as a man until her graduation, when she started showing signs of sexual transition. During that time, men had a dominant voice and women were considered to be below them. To add to this, being a transgender was considered to be a bad omen. But Dr. Hosne-Ara did not let the stigma get the better of her. Going beyond simply accepting her true gender, shepioneered a movement for the well-being of other transgenders and women of Bangladesh so that they could live a life of freedom, dignity and independence.

When all Doors Close, the One Truly Meant for You Opens Up: Anmol Rodriguez is a 23-year old model, an upcoming actress and a popular Instagram celebrity. She has also co-founded the Acid Survivors Saahas Foundation in 2016, an NGO that rehabilitates acid attack survivors. But what makes her stand apart from other models and actresses? It’s the fact that Anmol Rodriguez does not conform to the prevalent notions of beauty. An acid attack victim at the age of two months, Anmol was raised by doctors and nurses at a hospital until the age of 5, and then she lived in an orphanage until the age of 18. Showered with immense love and affection at both places, she was oblivious to the realities of the world outside. It was when she started working that she came face to face with the cruel discrimination that is prevalent against anyone not considered “normal” by the society. Every door she knocked on only kept slamming shut. But her story changed when she uploaded her first picture on Facebook and appreciations started pouring in from all around. For Anmol, there was no turning back after that.

Success is a Journey, not a Destination: Lt. Cdr. Pratibha Jamwal was commissioned as an air traffic control officer in the Indian Navy on 4th July, 2011. She picked up sailing during her training days at the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala in Kerala. In 2015, she set out with an all-women crew on a circumnavigation mission aboard the INSV Tarini. The voyage, named NavikaSagarParikrama, was daunting to say the least. Battling wind speeds of up to 140 kmph and waves nearly three storeys high, the crew sailed 21,600 miles in 254 days before returning home. Even a category 4 storm and a steering gear breakdown did not break the morale of these brave women. The mission, for Lt. Cdr. PratibhaJamwal and her crew, was not simply another task of survival, but an example set for the world that not even a violent and raging storm has the power to stop a woman in her path.

Do your Best, and in God’s Hands leave the Rest: Nishtha Dudeja is the winner of Miss Deaf India 2018 and Miss Deaf Asia 2018. She has won numerous medals in Judo and has also been an international Lawn Tennis Player. But she was only 3 years old when her parents discovered that she couldn’t hear. Learning to speak becomes a bigger challenge for a child who has never been subject to any kind of sound, let alone doing anything else remarkable enough in life. But her parents did not give up on her. Along with getting a pair of hearing aids, she also underwent speech therapy, actively refusing to go to a deaf school to learn the sign language. In spite of her condition, she never gave up any opportunity to excel and rise to the top; be it Judo, Tennis, or Modelling. Nishtha chose to break the chains of disability and be headstrong enough to reach out for the stars.

There’s no Place for a Comfort Zone: Riya Jain is a fashion, lifestyle and travel blogger, hailing from Mumbai. She began her blogging journey in 2014 when she started her own blog, Caught in a Cuff. Over the course of a little more than 4 years, her list of followers on Instagram has grown from 4000 to nearly 286,000. Caughtina Cuff has become the go-to blog for fashion aficionados over this short duration. It’s true that social media is an effective channel for reaching out to more and more people, but it can also be a reflection of a cruel world. Among all the appreciation that she received from her followers, she has also received a large number of messages filled with hatred. But that didn’t push her off her track. She understood that no matter what she does, people will have an opinion, good or bad. In the end, persistence and perseverance will keep one focused and protected against the hatred. Riya put this to practice and also strives to inspire people who wish to follow her glamorous footsteps.

Humility and Heart: Dr. Umashankar Venkatesh, Professor of Marketing Management and Director of PGPM Program at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, comes with over 30 years of experience as an educational entrepreneur. He has been the source of inspiration and guidance for many students venturing into entrepreneurship. Dr. Venkatesh, given the modest person he always chooses to be, defines his journey with one word – Serendipity. Dr. Venkatesh was born and raised in a humble family in Varanasi. The struggles that he has gone through has encouraged him to remain firmly rooted in his humility, in spite of being respected by a multitude of students and professors alike. He swayed the audience with the story of his journey from his first corporate job to a career as a professor, and then to a revered Thought-Leader who has inspired students in universities and institutes across the country. In all his examples, he quotes Humility as a key to Great Leadership, among other touchstones from his own experiences that must always be etched on one’s mind.

The event was sponsored by Goodie-Bag Partner Oyo, Hospitality Partner Park Inn by Radisson, Water Partner Kineer, Food Partner Sodexo, Support Partners Burger Point and Indulgence Drive-Thru and Food Court, and Travel Partner Hari Om Travels.

To conclude the day’s proceedings, Dr. Jones Matthew, Professor of Marketing Management and TEDx Licensee at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, stepped forward with a vote of thanks, and the student body of the TEDx committee took a bow for the tremendous effort they had put in over a period of 6 months to make the event a phenomenal success. An Odyssey in itself, the event was inspired the audience to take charge of their lives and never let circumstances or impediments be a reason to stop and give up. Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, would like to thank all honorable speakers, esteemed guests, and the ever-attentive audience, for being a part of the Odyssey and making it a huge success.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual gathering in Vancouver, Canada, TEDWomen and TEDGlobal conferences, and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world, then made available, free, on TED.com and other channelsTED's open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; and the educational initiative TED-Ed.

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