Updated on: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 12:27 AM IST

TEDx Gateway 2018: From politicians to storytellers, meet these innovative personalities


TEDx Gateway is a platform where innovators and renowned personalities come together under one umbrella. TEDx Gateway 2018 to be held in Mumbai on February 4 is no different. Profiled below are some of the key persons involved with the event

SURESH PRABHU Cabinet minister, Minister Of Commerce & Industry Politician, Social Worker & Educationatist


A man of action, having penchant for undertaking reforms, scripting turnarounds and achieving superlative results by working in mission mode. He is armed with education, ability, understanding, high integrity, zero corruption. He currently represents Andhra Pradesh in Upper House of Indian Parliament. He has also been Railway Minister, Industry Minister, Minister of Fertilizers and Chemicals, Union Minister for Power (GOI). Featured among the top three Indian leaders of the future by Asia Week magazine, Hong Kong in its cover story “Giant on the Move” I have been guided by my dream and mission to balance the needs of human development while preserving the fragile environment.

A believer in people’s participation in the working of the Ministries under him, especially through the involvement of NGOs and people’s groups. He is a Chartered Accountant by profession and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He is presently pursuing two PhD programs in climate change and economics in Germany and Mumbai.

He has held several government and semi government positions. He is a part of 16 global organizations and nine strategic dialogues which include: Global Water Partnership, GLOBE (UK), World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Industries Council, UN Advisor, United Nations Development Program, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Global Forum For Farmers (President), Strategic Dialogues, Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service, Skolkovo Foundation, Asia Energy Forum, United Nations Committee of Biodiversity, World Federation of UNESCO.


Anushka Naikinaware, Inventor, Smart Wound care bandage

At an age where most of her contemporaries and friends spend tons of time on social media, Anushka Naikinaware, has stormed to the centre of medical world’s attention. A young 13- year old citizen of Oregon, United States, she is just a normal school-going kid who has invented Smart Wound Care a bandage embedded with tiny monitors that lets medical workers determine when it needs to be changed. The bandage alerts doctors when it needs to be changed. The main project was designing a moisture sensor that was bio-compatible and made out of conductive ink but also very cheap to manufacture and something that would connect to, like, a phone. She really believes this will make a difference in people’s lives by reducing infection and stress. This breakthrough technology can also be used for the military and help the injured soldiers heal effectively and quickly.


She was the recipient of the LEGO Education Builder Award at the 2016 Global Google Science Fair, a prestigious, international STEM competition for student earned her a $15,000 scholarship from the Google international science contest. She loves to read, figure skate and conduct experiments. In her online bio, she said her “interests in science and engineering have been piqued by my frequent visits to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). I would spend hours on end in the chemistry lab, not satisfied till I had done every experiment there!” My early interest was chemistry, but I quickly learned that every branch of science is connected. This is why my project this year ties in many different fields of science including Mathematics, Computer Science, Chemistry and Medicine. A women scientist she admires the most is Marie Curie.

She has planned on using the mentorship aspect of her prize to figure out how to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for her bandages so a company can produce them at scale and patients can benefit.

Saurabh Rane, Public Health Specialist

Saurabh Rane, a public health specialist, runner, cyclist and mountaineer will transform the way we look at our own health and lives with his indomitable spirit. Before he could kick start his career, he was diagnosed with XDR-TB and had a delayed start. After a tedious 3 yearlong treatment he survived the condition only to make breakthroughs. Not only did he fight the disease, but also managed to pursue his passion and became the President of a medical student organisation. Fast forward to now a medical professional and management consultant, he has started a network for survivors of TB called Survivors against TB. One of its kind that focuses on infusing patients perspective into the health system. They also create patient support material and are involved in high level advocacy.

Washington Wachira, Birder and ecologist

If you take a walk, the animals you’re most likely see are birds. Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures on earth. We wake up to their songs in the morning; they’re in our cities, farms and even schools. But most of them are facing extinction or facing the wrath of habitation. It is our duty to contribute in their conservation. From the glorious crested guinea fowl to the adulterous African jacana to vultures that can pick a zebra carcass clean in 30 minutes, Washington Wachira wants us all to get to know the marvelous species of birds that share the planet with us. If you’re not already a fan of earth’s feather makers, Wachira who started the Youth Conservation Awareness Programme to nurture young environmental enthusiasts in Kenya would make you realise the importance of conservation of birds.

By age 14, he was already on a career path towards nature interpretation and conservation. He holds a BSc in environmental science and is currently taking an MSc animal ecology from Kenyatta University. His work has attracted local and international conservationists and he regularly spends time in the forest showing visitors these beautiful eagles and other birds of prey. He is a keen writer and has published multiple articles in a variety of local and international publications. He is a passionate and talented nature photographer featured in many publications worldwide. He is an experienced safari guide and has led many expeditions and research projects across Kenya. He founded Cisticola Tours, a tour company that leads professional birding and nature tours across Kenya and the rest of East Africa. Through Cisticola Tours, he has been leading multiple sustainability projects to support bird conservation and help communities to appreciate birds and nature. He is also a member of the Bird Committee of Nature Kenya, Chair of the National Bird of Kenya Sub-committee, Country Representative for Kenya at Youth Africa Birding and Manager for the Kenya Bird Map Project. He is a National Geographic Explorer for his work with African Crowned Eagles, and he is a birds of prey graduate student with The Peregrine Fund.

• Mr. Environment and Ambassador for Nairobi Province in 2012
• The Daisy Rothschild Award in 2015
• First position in the underwater category of the 2016 East African Wild Life Photo Competition Honourable Mention in the Best of Nikon

Linsey Pollak, Australian musician, instrument maker, composer, musical director and community music facilitator

Anyone can be a musician, whether they have a fancy instrument or a carrot. You’ll need a thick carrot, a saxophone mouthpiece and joiner, an electric drill, a peeler, and a funnel and it is ready. Linsey Pollak is an artist with a reputation for not only creating, but also playing instruments made out of everything from carrots, watering cans, chairs, bins and brooms to rubber gloves. His shows overcome both cultural and language barriers, driving home the message that music is an art form with the power to bring people together.

He has worked as a musical instrument maker for 40 years and has designed many new wind instruments as well as specialising in woodwind instruments from Eastern Europe (having studied Macedonian bagpipes in Macedonia). He has toured in Australia, Asia, the Americas and Europe. Pollak makes music with everything from carrots to irrigation pipe. He dreams of a society that doesn’t have a word for musician, because everyone plays music (just as we don’t have a word for “breather” because we all breathe).

He has toured his solo shows extensively in Europe, North America and Asia since 1996. He established The Multicultural Arts Centre of WA and has co-ordinated five Cross-cultural Music Ensembles in three different States. He has also performed at most major festivals around Australia and recorded 34 albums (solo and with various groups).

Ricky Kej, Indo-American music composer, music producer and a conservationist

Born in the US and raised in Bengaluru, he was all set to become a dentist after getting his degree, but his love for music made him take up a different path. He never took a formal training in music but became a known name in Kannada music industry at a young age.

He won a Grammy at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for his album Winds of Samsara, collaboration with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman, in the Best New Age Album category. The project, his 14th studio album, had made a debut at #1 on the US Billboard New Age Albums Chart in August 2014, first for a person of Indian origin. His album Shanti Samsara – World Music for Environmental Consciousness were created with themes of coexistence with nature; there are songs about the importance of rivers, effects of human – animal conflict, launched on November 30, 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference by Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi.

He has also produced over 3,000 jingles for reputed brands like Toyota, Essilor, Levis, Lee, Air India, Fosters, Ford, IBM, Nike etc. His repertoire of work consists of 15 studio albums released internationally, over 3,500 commercials and 3 feature films. He scored music for the opening ceremony of the Cricket World Cup 2011, held in Dhaka-Bangladesh. For Shanti Samasara, Ricky collaborated with over 500 musicians in over 40 countries, all coming together for Environmental Consciousness. Ricky went on to performing music from this album twice at the United Nations General Assembly, NY among other prestigious venues all over the world. Ricky was recently awarded the United Nations “Global Humanitarian Artist”

Joseph Redmond, Computer Scientist

Ten years ago, researchers thought that getting a computer to tell the difference between a cat and a dog would be almost impossible. Today, computer vision systems do it with greater than 99 per cent accuracy. How? Joseph Redmon works on the YOLO (You Only Look Once) system, an open-source method of object detection that can identify objects in images and video – from zebras to stop signs – with lightning-quick speed. Now a computer could tell the difference between a person, a stuffed-animal, a backpack and a tie. This has a simple goal: to deliver image recognition and object detection at a speed that would seem science-fictional only a few years ago. The algorithm looks like the simple face detection of a camera app but with the level complexity of systems like Google’s Deep Mind Cloud Vision, using Convolutional Deep Neural Networks to crunch object detection in real-time. It’s the kind of technology that will be embedded on all smartphones in the next few years.

Simar Singh, Story teller

Simar Singh was born in Chandigarh in 2000. He was brought up in Kolkata till the age of 14, when he shifted to Mumbai. He started writing poetry at the age of nine and has filled several diaries of poetry as a young child. He identifies himself as storyteller and keeps shifting mediums to tell stories.

As a child he used to write short stories in school, however he started directing his own short films at the age of 15. He has directed around 5 of his own short films, while he has worked on over 25 such projects. He started stand-up comedy in 2016 and pursued it for around 6 months. He coincidentally stumbled upon a poetry open mic in December 2016 and since then he’s been all about his poetry.

He founded UnErase Poetry in March 2017 to give a platform to spoken word artists and make their work reach larger audiences. UnErase’s content includes poems like, A Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender by Aranya Johar, Lord Ram In Court by Gaurav Tripathi, Cycle by Yahya Bootwala and many more. Simar’s own poems have spoken about issues like marital rape, mental illnesses in men, festival celebrations in India etc. and he uses his medium to speak up about issues unspoken

Manisha Mohan, Scientist, researcher, Second-year master’s student in the Living Mobile group at the MIT Media Lab

Sexual assault, in its many forms, is undoubtedly one of the most heinous crimes prevalent today, not just in India but across the globe. To tackle this threat, she has developed a sticker-like wearable sensor to detect sexual assault and alert victims’ friends and family that is called Intrepid. It’s a smart sticker that’s intended to detect, communicate, and prevent sexual assault. It’s connected to your phone via Bluetooth and it can attach to any piece of clothing. Her research interests include wearable technology for safety and security and biomaterials science for wearables. Her work lives at the intersection of social issues and engineering, with a specific focus on technologies that can create positive impact in people’s lives and the environment.

Her thesis research explores on-body safety via the seamless integration of wearables into users’ existing clothing. The research currently focuses on three specific groups: infants and toddlers, college students, and the elderly and disabled. Prior to joining the Media Lab, she worked at the Production Technology Center in Sweden, where her work was related to tribology (thermal barrier coatings). Her past work also includes microfabrication, inclusive design, and automotive structural design and engineering.

She received her bachelor’s degree in automobile engineering from SRM, Chennai, India, where in 2014 she was one of five Presidential Fellows.

Bharat Anand, American economist, Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration, faculty chair of the HBX initiative

An expert in digital strategy and corporate strategy, his research is about examining the competition in information goods markets, with a primary focus on media and entertainment. His research is in applied and empirical industrial organization. His research examines competition in information goods markets, with a primary focus on media and entertainment. He is also an expert in multi-business strategy.

In his book The Content Trap he explains, companies that flourish in a digital world have focused on establishing and fostering connections rather than creating the best content. His research on media strategies has focused on two central strategic challenges that firms face in these markets. The first is the challenge of “getting noticed” amongst the increasing clutter of alternatives that are widely available to consumers. The second is the challenge that firms face in “getting paid” for what they produce, since property rights over inputs and outputs are often difficult to establish in these markets.

He chairs several executive education programs, including the schools executive education program on media strategies. He received a BA in Economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard University, and his PhD in Economics from Princeton University, where he was nominated to the Princeton Junior Society of Fellows. He has authored numerous case studies in business and corporate strategy, including those on Capital One, Danaher, The Economist, International Management Group, News Corporation, Random House, and Schibsted.

Chris Sheldrick, Founder & Inventor, what3words

It’s a fundamental logistical problem: not everyone, or everywhere, has a traditional address, and GPS coordinates can be tough to use. While working in the music industry, Chris Sheldrick noticed that bands and equipment kept getting lost on the way to gigs, and he took up the mission to create a better addressing system for the world. He worked with a mathematician friend to devise the what3words algorithm that has named every 3-metre square in the world. Started in 2013, the system is being used by eight national postal services, and has a range of integration partners across the world in fields as varied as humanitarian aid, logistics, and in-car navigation.

Arun Sundararajan, Professor and the Robert L. and Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow at New York University’s (NYU) Stern School of Business, and an affiliated faculty member at NYU’s Center for Data Science and Center for Urban Science and Progress

We’ve entered the “sharing economy” era – marking an end to employment as we know it and the rise of what economist Arun Sundararajan calls crowd-based capitalism. As the world shifts from traditional organizations to digitally enabled markets and communities, he is helping corporations and governments prepare for and thrive through the transformation.

His best-selling and award-winning book, The Sharing Economy, published by the MIT Press, has been translated into five languages. He has given hundreds of talks globally at forums that include the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, the WEF Annual Meeting of New Champions in Dalian and Tianjin, the World Government Summit, the Wuzhen Summit and SXSW Interactive. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Technology, Values and Policy. He has provided expert testimony about the digital economy as part of testimony to the United States Congress, the European Parliament, the Federal Trade Commission, the White House and a range of government agencies and regulators globally.

He is widely regarded as the leading academic on the sharing economy. He has researched, and written, taught and spoken about the digital transformation of business and society for almost two decades. He teaches in a range of NYU Stern executive education programs in the U.S., Europe and Asia, teaching full-time MBA students about hi-tech entrepreneurship, undergraduates about networks, crowds and markets, and doctoral students about digital economics.

A sought-after source for expert insights and perspectives by top media platforms, Sundararajan’s op-eds and expert commentary have appeared in TIME, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Wired, TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Harvard Business Review. He has spoken on numerous NPR shows, and appeared on television shows around the world, including those on BBC, Bloomberg TV, CBS, CNBC, CNN and PBS.

Rives, Host of TEDx Gateway, poet and performance artist

If words were a tool to win a battle – very few would win against Rives.

Rives is an American poet, storyteller, and author. He appeared on Seasons 3-6 of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and has been a member of Team Hollywood, which won the 2004 National Poetry Slam. His best-known poems include Kite, about waking up alone in a new lover’s apartment, and Mockingbird, which he performs differently every time, incorporating the words of other poets and speakers in the program. A regular on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Rives also starred alongside model Bar Refaeli in the 2008 Bravo special Ironic Iconic America, touring the United States on a “roller coaster ride through the eyepopping panorama of American pop culture” .

Flat pages can’t contain his storytelling, even when paper is his medium. The pop-up books he creates for children unfold with surprise: The Christmas Pop-Up Present expands to reveal moving parts, hidden areas and miniature booklets inside. His project — the Museum of Four in the Morning — is an ode to a time that may well be part of a global conspiracy.

Prateek Sharma, CEO of Nasofilters (Nanoclean global.) Incubated at IIT Delhi, Nanoclean Global Pvt. Ltd.

He believes in using technology to provide affordable solutions to solve critical issues. They have developed a respiratory filter which not only restricts entry of up to 95 percent dust and air pollutants, but is also the cheapest Nasofilter available keeping in mind the harmful effects of air pollution and tiny suspended particulate matter specially 2.5 Micron Particles. The team of innovators was awarded with the “National Startups Award” by former President Pranab Mukherjee.
Nasofilters is India’s most affordable pollution filter which filters out particles of the size PM2.5 and comes at a cost of just Rs10. It is a favourite pollution filter of many people including President of India. Nasofilters has also been recognised as ‘Top 50 technical startups’ all over the world by Republic of Korea and “Top 100 global startups” for Hong Kong’s famous Elevator pitch.

Only Indian startup to achieve this feat. Funded under schemes of Government of India, it is also registered under Startup India to avail tax exemption.

Jagdish Mahapatra, Cyber security specialist

The internet offers access to a world of products and services, entertainment and information. At the same time, it creates opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. But some like Jagdish Mahapatra, chief of Channels and Alliances for McAfee are really concerned about the problem and creating awareness about digital security and why it should be a priority for all of us as we continue to spend more and more time on internet. Also he is of the view that to show our children how to be safe in the virtual world, we must teach ourselves to do so first. The other fear he has is that the next world war might just be a Cyber War – and it might just hit us soon! He is an expert with experience across the Asia Pacific Region and is trying to build new business models to make governments and banks more secure. He has worked extensively in India as CEO of a large Cyber security company to build a secure framework for Government of India, established banks and companies and for consumers at large. He in the past has built networks and connectivity for organizations in India including some of the expansive State Wide Area Network (SWANs) and State Data centers. In the formative part of his career, he was instrumental in creating the manufacturing offshoring model in India which emerged as a significant game changing industry phenomenon during his stint with a large Engineering Conglomerate in India. He was recognized as one of the Top 40 Executives in India Inc. under 40, in 2011 by the Business World.

Ajit Narayanan, Inventor, Visual Grammar Engine, founder and CEO of Avaz Inc.

He has developed India’s first Augmentative and Alternative Communication device (app) for children with disabilities. His work focuses on making tools to help children communicate and learn language. Avaz, a picture communication aid, that is an ‘artificial voice’ for children with speech disabilities like autism and cerebral palsy. He is also the inventor of FreeSpeech, an AIbased grammar prediction system that converts picture maps into grammatical sentences in any language, and is used for children with disabilities to learn language. Avaz and FreeSpeech have impacted the lives of more than 60,000 children worldwide. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras. He was awarded the National Award for Empowerment of People with Disabilities by the President of India. He was also named one of the world’s top young innovators by MIT TR35. His work has been featured at the TED conference and Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

Uday Vishwanath Deshpande, Dedicated to nurture and promote the ancient sport of Mallakhamb

Uday Vishwanath Deshpande, is best described as a man on a mission. Having dedicated most of his life towards nurturing and promoting the ancient Indian sport of Mallakhamb, with fervour and single-minded focus, Deshpande’s contribution to the field has been immense. His own prowess as a player of Mallakhamb went a long way in this process. Being a reputed National level player of Mallakhamb in the early seventies, helped Deshpande to achieve a natural feel for the sport and to understand the unique demands of a sport like Mallakhamb. As a result his approach has been two – folded. On one hand he has coached and created several outstanding Mallakhamb players, both within the country and abroad. On the other he has helped organize over a hundred Mallakhamb demonstrations and camps within India and has taken Mallakhamb to large audiences spread over a dozen countries around the world. Besides this, by actively networking with and participating in events organized by other bodies in the field of Mallakhamb, Deshpande has been instrumental in creating policies regarding the sport, framing syllabi for courses and generally building an environment in which the sport will be able to thrive. However, it is in the small things that one sees the real work done by the man. Despite his heavy schedules, he personally trains visually challenged children from the school for the blind to perform on the rope. A simple, down to earth man, he always has time for anyone who wants to know about the sport and is always willing to teach it himself. It is this that has taken the sport a long way.

Rothna Begum, Women’s rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa region at Human Rights Watch

She conducts investigations and leads the advocacy to end discrimination and violence against women in the Middle East and North Africa region. She has led the research and advocacy on the abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers in the Gulf region who mostly hail from Asia and Africa, documented the sexual violence and slavery of Yezidi women by ISIS in Iraq, investigated the government’s response on domestic violence in Morocco, Lebanon, and Iraq, and advocated for the repeal of legal provisions that allow rapists to escape prosecution, pushed for women to have the right to drive and an end of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, and lobbied for an end child marriage in Yemen. She is the author of Human Rights Watch reports including: ‘I Already Bought You: Abuse and Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers in the United Arab Emirates’; ‘I Was Sold: Abuse and Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers in Oman’; and ‘Working Like a Robot: Abuse and Exploitaiton of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates’ . Rothna previously worked for Amnesty International for five and a half years’ researching human rights violations in the Gulf region primarily specializing in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, and Oman, and Iran including on women’s rights, migrant workers’ rights, freedom of expression, counter-terrorism, death penalty, and corporal punishment. Rothna holds a LLB in Law and a LLM in Legal Theory from the London School Economics and Political Science during which she studied public international law, international human rights law, and Islamic law.

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Published on: Saturday, February 03, 2018, 09:51 PM IST