TED Talks
PMI India

A new addition at this conference was TED talks. Five speakers from different fields brought their inspiring stories to the conference of how they broke barriers and are making a difference in the world.

Chetna Sinha
Banker, social entrepreneur

Chetna Sinha founded Mann Deshi Bank to take care of the financial needs of women entrepreneurs in rural India. The idea took shape after she realized that women from economically weaker sections were being denied even micro savings of as little as Rs 10 by banks. She not only shared her unusual story of leaving Mumbai and marrying a village leader but also extraordinary stories of rural women who have emerged as strong leaders in society and their households by overcoming socioeconomic challenges with sheer grit.

“These are incredible women who continue to inspire me, teach me and guide me. They never had an opportunity to go to school. When RBI denied to give license to our bank because women were illiterate, they told the officials, ‘So what? We can count’, and challenged them to do calculations faster than them without using a calculator,” she said.

Ashweetha Shetty
Rural social worker

From rolling beedis (locally-made cigarettes) at a tender age to fighting for her right to higher education, Ashweetha Shetty has lived her life defying the identities that society had thrust upon her of being a “poor village girl.” Today she has turned into a pied piper for rural youth. She helps first-generation college graduates with life skills and education opportunities through her NGO, Bodhi Tree Foundation.

She received a big round of applause when she narrated her personal story of how despite coming from a poor background and a maledominated area, she found her self-worth through education. “I believe that we all are born into a reality that we blindly accept until something awakens us and then the world opens up,” she said.

Sally Kohn
Writer and activist

Sally Kohn has been on a mission to address the pervasive culture of hate by helping people be self-aware and understand the origin of such hatred.

She shared her dark past with the audience – of being a bully in school. She narrated her story of how she changed and became a messenger of compassion. She spoke about finding common ground with those you hate and make the transition. Ms. Kohn pointed out that hatred takes place at all levels. The talk gave some important lessons for recognizing hatred and healing from within.

Shubhendu Sharma

An automobile engineer by profession, Shubhendu Sharma made a switch to build rich, dense forests instead of cars. Through his venture Afforest, he has planted native forests in more than 35 cities globally.

Mr. Sharma narrated how his encounter with Japanese scientist Dr Akira Miyawaki inspired him to grow a forest of 30,000 trees in his backyard. He explained how through Dr Miyawaki’s technique one can grow a multi-level forest in a space of just six cars and at a cost of merely one iPhone. Not just that, these trees grow 10 times faster and within a decade, one can grow a 100-year-old forest.

Robert Muggah
Megacities expert

Robert Muggah is an expert on megacities, security and new technologies. An author of seven books and hundreds of policy papers and peer-reviewed articles, he co- founded the Igarapé Institute and SecDev Foundation to look at data-driven safety solutions in Latin America and Africa, and cyber security.

He said that cities occupy just 3 percent of global surface area but account for 75 percent of world’s energy consumption and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. He peppered his talk with interactive maps representing urban fragility and talked about the risks that our cities face. He shared six principles, citing various cities across the world as examples to understand how we can make cities more resilient. "Cities are where the future happens first. They're open, creative, dynamic, democratic, cosmopolitan, sexy,” he said. However, he cautioned, “If we get our cities right, we might just survive the 21st century. We get them wrong, and we are done for.”