Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Birds of a feather... MUST NOT flock together!

Modeled on and in partnership with the famous TED conference, the INK conference brings a very eclectic group of people associated with varied walks of life like art & culture, non-profits, education etc and provides them with a terrific platform to tell their stories. Last month I had the opportunity to attend and present at the INK conference in Jaipur and meet with a fascinating bunch of people across three days… I was amazed at the richness of their stories… the amazing work they’ve done… and the ability they had to tell their stories in such an interesting manner.

One of the stories that stayed with me was of Aisha Chaudhary, a 15-year-old girl who was diagnosed with an incurable immune deficiency disorder at the age of six months, following which she underwent bone marrow transplant. In her incredibly simple and touching way, Aisha took us through her early days when she was wheelchair ridden and destined to inhale oxygen with the help of a tube clipped to her nose. Her story drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation as she told us about the 5 lessons she has learnt during this phase; 'Believe in miracles', 'Live in the moment', 'Opportunity in difficulties', 'Dare to dream' and 'Pets are the best medicines'!!

In 5 minutes one could learn much more from a brave young girl than what many would go through an entire lifetime and probably miss altogether! That really got me thinking how most of us tend to stick to and interact with people who are similar to us… do the same kind of work… and even think the same way.. limiting the potential of expanding one’s mind.

But when you walk into an event like this, not only are you faced with a bunch of issues that you probably never thought about but you also get to know people who have dealt with these issues in a very different and inspiring way. What excites and motivates them is very different from what motivates most of us. So it really makes you stop and think and walk out side your comfort zone. It makes you forget your regular problems and the standard approach one tends to take to deal with those problems.

What’s interesting is that one doesn’t attend such events with the objective of doing a business deal… but rather to pick up experiences and ways of thinking that one can bring into one’s own situations. That’s the real benefit.

During the conference, I also got the opportunity to talk about the birth, growth and evolution of Gurgaon and the human stories behind its growth that has changed millions of lives. It's a story of hope for the future for a country like India, provided we can replicate all the good things that have happened and find solutions for the problems that still exist. The only way it can happen is if the partnership between citizens, their employers and the local government further strengthens and takes it forward.

But being an optimist, I am convinced it will happen - we will find incredible ways to drive inclusive growth!!