Sep 26, 2010

INDIA TODAY-Youth summit 2010

"So much is said about the young nation that India is ---- about the advantage this gives us over the rest of the world which has largely ageing populations. But our young men & women could turn around and ask: “What are you doing for us? To expose us to new ideas, to charge us with the self confidence we need to face life, to show us the road to maximum achievement?”


"Youth", it was famously said in the past, "Is wasted on the young." Throw that statement on the dust heap of history. Today young people are challenging the norm to emerge as champions of causes, CEOs of companies and icons of different arenas.

From science to society, they are redefining it all. They craft their own rules, adopt new roles, diverging from what tradition demands of them to what they believe is right in a rapidly changing world. The India Today Youth Summit 2010 offers you the unique opportunity, in one inspiring day, to hear the gurus giving you the mantras for success and the mavericks telling you how to dream big and do bigger.

Youth's chance to flower, to deliver potential: Purie 

Today's youth have new vistas opened in front of them after the collapse of the old order and this change has led to the emergence of new entrepreneurs, said Aroon Purie, the chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the India Today Group. 

In his welcome address at the India Today Youth Summit 2010 in New Delhi on Saturday, Purie said "With the collapse of the old order, old business families have vanished, dynamic new entrepreneurs emerged, professionals have become millionaires, managerial salaries are very respectable and every day new industries and services are cropping up. India today is a land of great opportunity. And the world is your oyster." 

The change is also reflected in new age occupations, he said. "You can be whatever you want to be. From an aeronautical engineer to someone working for an NGO, from a professional video gamer to a politician, from a coffee taster to a glass blower."
He also said there is no one formula for success. "It's evident in our speakers today who will tell us about their Mantras of Success(the theme of the summit)". 

Dwelling on his mantra for success, Purie said, "I believe there is no substitute for hardwork and hardwork never killed anybody. Plus be passionate about what you do and believe in yourself. And pray that you are in the right place at the right time and, most important, you know it."

 Aroon Purie welcomes Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani is one of the brightest minds in India today. A man of ideas and idealism, of courage and common sense, of technological brilliance and intellectual honesty, he is one of the founders of Infosys, which redefined not just how young Indians saw their careers but also how the world saw India. Not just as a land of silly superstitions and hidebound traditions, but of smart youngsters who could sell to America the idea of getting work done more efficiently and more inexpensively outside their country. The job demanded not just someone who could understand technology but also someone who could articulate it to the world. 

Nandan is one of the architects of liberalised India. At 55, he is also a fine example of India's growth story. He was born in Bangalore where he spent the first 12 years of his life but he lived for many years in the small Karnataka town of Dharwad. Being a bright student he, inevitably, went to an IIT. There he realised what he was good at-apart from electrical engineering. It was organising things. He became General Secretary of the IIT, which would stand him in good stead for his eventual leap to the top, as the CEO who succeeded NR Narayanamurthy at Infosys between 2002 and 2007. Nandan's career exemplifies the other great aspect of India's growth story. The ability to take risks. It's that quality which made him follow Narayanamurthy when he quit Patni Computers in 1981, where he started at a salary of Rs 1,200, and set up Infosys in co-founder N S Raghavan's house in Matunga, northcentral Mumbai. There were seven people. They had no money, no connections, and a pledge to never foster corruption. And in a climate of an unliberalised India, they made a world class company which is respected the world over.

Infosys to a great extent made it possible largely because they saw an opportunity in a crisis. When the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, several cost-slashing US companies began shifting software development and back-office work to India, with its low wages and educated workforce. Between 1999 and 2004, Infosys' revenues grew, now to over Rs 22,000 crore, and it today employs over 110,000 lakh people in 63 offices across the world. 

It was the first Indian company to be listed on the New York stock exchange. Infosys was India's really first global giant, with more than 90 per cent of its annual revenues coming from overseas. It set the standards for corporate governance in India and a remarkable example of succession planning.

The most difficult act in the world is for successful founders to give up their jobs.

They have had three CEOs, including Nandan. Ofcourse, they had handsome stock options which has made Nandan a very rich man, but he doesn't think it should be spent on pricey toys and pretty palaces. 

Nandan has always thought beyond his own corporation, where he spent an extraordinary 28 years. He is one of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board. He co-founded NASSCOM as well as the Bangalore Chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE). He is a member of the Board of Governors of the IIT Bombay and is also a member of the review committee of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
His quiet work in philanthropy, whether it is giving to his alma mater or to the think tank, the New India Foundation, also marks him out as a man of vision.

Here is an Indian who had the courage to imagine a renewed nation even when he was sharing a scooter with co-founder S.D. Shibulal as they would drive around Bangalore looking for business. Having put India on the map of the world, he is now mapping India as the chairman of the National Unique Identification Development Authority of India on the request of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh though he could have well stayed on at Infosys. He may have skeptics in this task as well, but then Nandan Nilekani has spent many years showing how anything is possible. Even that the world is flat.

I got to know Nandan a few years back in Davos and seen him enthrall people there. But more importantly, his wife Rohini worked as a journalist before her marriage for a city magazine called Bombay which was part of our group. And now she does great social work. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot think of a better man to begin our first ever Youth Summit with. Nandan Nilekani, the man whom Thomas Friedman called the Great Explainer, on how to Dream Big and Do Bigger.

Think big, thinking small takes the same time: Nilekani 

Nandan Nilekani has a simple mantra for success -- think big, raise your aspirations and work towards your goal with relentless focus. Inaugurating India Today's Youth Summit on Saturday, co-founder of Infosys and chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Nilekani said that since thinking big and thinking small took the same amount of time, then why not think big. 

He gave credit to this mantra for his own success. Talking about his life, which he called a ''series of happy accidents,'' he said that at a time when the company he founded along with his mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy, was facing an existential crisis in the 90s when global companies started venturing into India, they had an option to either shut down, sell the company or go bigger. ''We decided to think big and expand. It is all about unlocking our imagination and freeing our mind. In 1999, Infosys listed on Nasdaq. When we realised we needed good work force, we set-up a world class campus in Mysore in 2000, followed by a leadership academy,'' said Nilekani.

Emphasising on the need for harnessing the power of youth, he said that their company had hugely benefited from youth with the average age at Infosys being 27 years.
He said that it was extremely important for India to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend that it enjoyed. ''India is a young country in an ageing world. We can fully realise the potential it gives us only by giving opportunities to the youth,'' he said.

In fact, in response to a question by a young man in the audience about outsourcing, Nilekani said that it was important for the youth to be a part of the global world. It would be more beneficial for the Indian youth to contribute to the world by being a part of either the manufacturing industry, catering to other countries, or outsourcing. ''We have to be a part of the global economy and take advantage of the demographic dividend,'' he stressed.
One year in the government as head of the UIDAI, Nilekani seems to have mastered the art of dealing with the red-tapism, usually associated with government functioning. He said that the trick was not to worry about small things but to remain focused on a few big issues. ''It is not easy to get a bigger car in government but it is easy to get a financial sanction for an important project. The government is more receptive to big ideas,'' he said.
Nilekani also dismissed the notion that Infosys had grown since the government did not breathe down their necks. ''In fact, the government played a large role in growth and success of the company and the country. The government set up IT parks, gave tax holidays and made import of equipment customs duty-free. We all benefited from that. Jawaharlal Nehru set up IITs in 1957 and I went there and succeeded.'' he said, trying to put the government's role in the right perspective.

Agreeing to take up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's offer to give identity cards to the people of the country, he said it was his way of paying back to the country what he had gained. The UID cards, he said, to begin with will benefit the poor and the marginalised sections of the society, bringing them into the mainstream and enable them to benefit from various social and economic schemes of the government, be it NREGA or to access bank accounts or even own a cell phone. He talked about the concept of business correspondent, proposed by RBI, whereby a local kirana shop or any other chosen person will function as a micro ATM. A villager or farmer, who does not have access to a bank branch in his neighbourhood, can approach the business correspondent and withdraw money from his account. His UID number will help him in that.

''This is what is driving me and my team now -- to unlock the ability of the poor and the marginalised to enter the mainstream. A big goal, whether personal or social, energises and gives a sense of purpose. Have a goal and work towards it. That's how you get on in life,'' Nilekani said. 

I play chess because I like to solve problems: Anand

For the casual observer, the game of chess appears fairly monotonous. Two opponents staring down and moving pieces on a chess board. But who would have thought of the furious mind games that go on, of the fact that this is one non-contact sport where you are so close that you can actually hear your opponent breathe. And then actually try and strategise your moves based on the way your opponent breathes. These were some of the insights into the world of chess revealed by world champion Viswanathan Anand before a roomful of enthralled youth at the first India Today Youth Summit in the capital. Speaking on, what else, "Keep your Eye on the Board", the Jedi grandmaster of chess spoke about his legendary duels with chess grandmasters Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov and revealed how he had braved the psychological warfare waged by opponents. At first, it was innocent jokes, then an opponent who slammed doors between the game to unnerve him, then it was snide suggestions that Anand was a "choker", who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, or simply dismissed as a "coffee house player" for the speed of his moves. Anand survived those, of course, and a particularly lean patch over a decade ago to scale the pinnacle of the chess world in 2007. His current strategy to deal with the mind games mirrors his away-from-the-crowds move to the tiny town of Collado Mediano in Spain over a decade ago:he doesnt make eye contact with anybody just before a game and stays focused on the match. In the run-up to his matches, he is virtually cut off from the outside world. Anand still plays very fastand regards improvisation and spontaneity are still his hallmarks. "I play chess because I like to solve problems," says the unassuming grandmaster who, as a six-year-old, learnt the ropes of chess from his mother. "The key to success is finding the weaknesses in your opponent," Anand said

Follow your heart, but use your head: Speakers  

Do what your heart says and the rest will follow was the message that rang out loud and clear at the Believe in Yourself session of the India Today Youth Summit 2010. 

Chhavi Rajawat, corporate executive-turned-Sarpanch of Rajasthan's Soda village, was the first of the four successful professionals to address the overwhelmingly youthful audience."
Drawing on her experience as the elected head of her village, Rajawat said it is also essential to believe in the innate goodness of people; it's an adjunct to belief in oneself, she stressed."

She described her efforts to ensure development of her village as a battle against mostly uninterested and insincere government agencies. Water is the single biggest problem in her village, Rajawat told the packed hall at the Janakpuri Hilton here. She went on to relate how her efforts to raise resources to help resolve this perennial crisis in Soda met with no government aid and that she had to organise the money herself, leaning on her family and friends. The problem is far from over, but Rajawat said she's not giving up.".
Rajawat wrapped up her speech by making a case for the freedom of panchayats to use their funds as they deem fit. "Everybody has problems; we tend to crib and do nothing," she adding, "It's time we stood up together and created a wave that will bring progress to rural India."

Mukul Deora, entreprenueur, musician and installation artist, was next. He built his speech around a George Bernard Shaw quote: The reasonable man adapts to his surroundings, the unreasonable man adapts his surroundings to himself; therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Describing youth as energy without direction, he related his life journey from failed businessman to musician to real estate developer. The journey is the important thing, Deora said, summing up his philosophy by saying that the Shaw quote works only "when you know your core values and ideals". Sanjeev Sanyal, president and founder of the Sustainable Planet Institute, was next and he developed the concept of the unreasonable man further.

Underlining his theme with examples from the successes and failures of his life, Sanyal pointed out that there is a "dumb side to being unreasonable". He made a strong case for not looking at economic growth through the limited perspective of the GDP. Sanyal then described how he and a colleague had devised an alternative method of measuring economic progress, stressing how one needs to take the cost to the environment into account. He then went on to talk about the growing urbanisation of India, saying it was the biggest thing happening in our lives and that precious little attention was being paid to it.

Engineer-turned-scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni was the showstealer, however, with his mix of candour and spontaneity riveting the attention of all present to his words. Sahni spoke of his journey from school to engineering college to advertising to films, his sharp wit bringing alive the futility of chasing success that most people's lives turn into.
He spoke of doing what one's heart wants, and of the inevitability of that being useful to someone, rather than chasing the mirage of success. The latter, he said, "would ensure that half of your salary is spent on antacids." Sahni's easygoing manner involved the audience from his first word to the last, as he took them effortlessly through his definition and comprehension of following one's heart. 
Politicians not all that bad, maintains Sachin Pilot 

It was left to the young Minister of State for Communications, Sachin Pilot, to defend his ilk before the young minds at the India Today Youth Summit on Saturday. The question that was thrown open for debate was 'Politics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'.
To this, Pilot replied that it was not for him to judge but rather for the people of India to judge him by his performance. However, he did point out that since politicians have to be re-elected every five years, they have little choice but to perform if they want to be re-elected.

He narrated a couple of anecdotes about the kind of demands that are made to politicians - from late night requests to getting a hand pump fixed in a remote village to a request to influence a BSF recruitment physical so that a candidate who is three inches too short to make the list, can get in. 

"These are some of the questions we face everyday to win the confidence of the people," he said, adding, "We, as politicians, have imposed checks and balances on ourselves such as the anti-defection bill, the RTI." In other words, he claimed they were not as ugly as they are being depicted in films.

On the mess around the Commonwealth Games, he said, "Things could have been done differently but having said that today is not the evening to ponder over what went wrong but to welcome our guests and ensure the Games go off well. Things will be taken into account once the Games are over."
Over the Ayodhya verdict, he said, "Does it really matter so much that there should be bloodshed and riots over the verdict? The politics of the past do not bear dividends today. People are more worried about employment, healthcare and education. We should move forward and not backward, and if there are any fundamental elements, it is up to the youth to act maturely."

I want to coach Team India: Sourav Ganguly 

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has said on Saturday that he
would like to be the coach of the Indian team, if such an 
opportunity comes his way. "Though it's not my immediate goal, 
I will like to coach the national team. It will be a great honour,
" Ganguly said on Saturday while addressing the India Today
Youth Summit in Delhi.

He will, however, like to do things differently from former India

coach Greg Chappell because of which he had to lose his captaincy
and later his place in the team. "I think the captain is the boss of the
team, the coach should remain backstage," he said.
In the session 'Going For Broke' chaired by Headlines Today 

Executive Editor Rahul Kanwal, Ganguly said his coaching will 
revolve around five central rules: friendly relations with media, 
no use of media to sideline a player, being honest with players, 
work with the players, gaining their confidence and staying at 
the backstage.

On being asked what keeps him going, the Bengal Tiger said that

the love for the game inspired him to make several comebacks. 
"After I was dropped from the team in 2006, even my father 
thought I would not get any chance. But I had faith in myself. 
I still get high when I score runs," he said.

He admitted cricket was not his first choice. Like most Bengali 

teenagers, his first love was football. But injuries forced him to
give up football and he turned to the game he would rule when 
he was in Class IX. "My elder brother played cricket, so I started 
going out with him to play. That's how it began," said Ganguly.

He also said that his cricketing journey, filled with so many ups 

and downs, has moulded his character. It has taught him that 
winning was not always everything. "Of course people expect you 
to win every time, and you can't move ahead if you don't deliver, 
but the most important part is the amount of struggle you go through
to achieve your goal." he said, "There are more bad days in sports
than good ones. But people remember the good days only." He said 
that failures have made him a better person.

On being asked how it felt to sit out of the team, Ganguly said 

that it was like a punch to his face. "When I was out of the team, 
the newspapers made me feel like everything I had done for Team 
India was wrong. Then I got picked up after six months and suddenly
people said there was none better than me. That's when I realised 
winning is not everything," he said adding that "it's not important 
how many times you fall, but how you get up every time".

He advised youngsters not to worry much about winning as that 

adds pressure. "If you are honest to you profession, some day 
you will surely win."

The southpaw also praised the efforts of boxer Mary Kom who 

despite several hardships and obstacles has brought glory to the 
country by becoming World Woman Boxing Champion five times
in a row.

The most successful Indian captain ever, Ganguly attributed his

success to his teammates. "A team-mate is as good as his team. 
I had so many talented players in the team and they delivered. 
We must remember cricket is a team game." Among all the captains 
he played under he singles out Tendulkar as the best. "Everyone, 
including my father, points to Tendulkar's captaincy record when 
I say this, but I really blossomed as a cricketer under Sachin," 
he said.

Ganguly, who opened in ODIs with Tendulkar, said that he 

considered the 60-plus partnerships with the master blaster as
the most memorable in his career. "After we lost to Australia in 
the World Cup 2003, there was a huge public reaction against our 
dismal performance. Our next match was against Zimbabwe and I 
was very tense. Tendulkar came up to me and said that it was the 
most crucial game of his life and we must win it. It was a small 
partnership, but it changed our course in the World Cup and we 
reached the final," he said. On being asked if he could do something 
differently in the 2003 World Cup final, he said, "I wish we could
bowl better. Every time I asked Zaheer to bowl a particular delivery,
he did the opposite."

He also admitted that his tactic of keeping former Australian 

captain Steve Waugh waiting for him during the toss was a 
deliberate one. "It was my way of being at the same level as 
they were." He also recounted his encounter with Steve Waugh 
the very next year at Brisbane where Waugh had asked him, 
"Could you be on time for the toss this time?" "Only if you 
stop writing," replied Ganguly.

Clearly in a mood to interact with the youngsters present at the 

summit, Ganguly was at his wittiest best. "Was hitting sixes against 
leg spinners your success mantra," asked one delegate to which
Ganguly replied, "It was my way of venting out my frustration 
after facing the fire from the Pollocks and Bret Lees."

On being asked how he had felt after taking off his shirt at the 

Lord balcony after India had won the NatWest series against 
England, he said, "I felt cold as it was very cold in London."
He also said that he might take off his shirt again if Kolkata 
Knight Riders win the IPL.

Ganguly believes that Indian cricketers are not involved in 

match-fixing. He however refused to agree that it's not about 
Pakistani players only. "The bookies know who to approach. 
They observe the players, their behaviours and how they speak
to the press or on TV." On being asked how he dealt with the
match fixing crisis after he took over the reigns of Team India
in 2000, he said, "Almost all the players were new. So we made
a fresh beginning. We did not talk about it. I did not have to
deal with it much."

Ganguly also sees no wrong in politicians managing sports. 

"If their intentions are right, anyone can manage sports. 
But it's better if administration is managed by politicians
and the sports aspect by players," he said. The former 
India captain believes that the Commonwealth Games
in India will pass off successfully. "India has the huge
ability of surviving disasters. It's not okay to blame one
person for what is happening. If it fails, all are to be blamed."

Hard work and professionalism are the keys to 
success: Katrina Kaif 

 Known as Lady Luck and Lady Charm, Bollywood's 'Lucky Mascot' Katrina Kaif spoke about the importance of hard work and professionalism in her life as important lessons for the youth at the India Today Youth Summit held in New Delhi.

Once panned for her poor dancing, Kaif's moves are much copied in Indian cinemas today. Once slammed for her poor command of Hindi, Kaif dubs her lines herself, far better than what Penelope Cruz does in English.
Kaif came to India on a whim but felt so welcome and comfortable in the country that she decided to stay on and make it her home. "I feel a sense of being loved and accepted here."
Sharing her experiences with a very enthusiastic young audience, Kaif says her life wasn't a bed of roses. When she started out as a model, she would often face rejections and never won any beauty contests. She would get called for ads and Hindi film auditions and then would get rejected, often for her curves.
"When you experience these things, you often wonder if the industry isn't right for you", she says. The svelte actress, however, did not give up. "I kept on trying and today I have achieved far more than I could dream of."
However, you cannot really rest on your laurels. "The day you sit back and relax and say I have achieved what I wanted, someone else will take over and surpass you," she says.
What has kept Kaif going is her passion for her work and her focus. "I think of one thing that I can achieve from each film I do and as long as I can find something new to show the audience, I do it." In an environment as challenging and demanding as the film industry, she does not let peer pressure get to her. According to her, "Pressure is really public pressure. My audience is my priority and what they think is really what will keep me up at night."
A role she really identifies with is her role in Rajneeti, where despite very few dialogues, she could identify with way her character handled her life. "I did the role not because it supposedly portrayed the life of Soniaji, but because there were certain personality traits with which I could identify." She adds, "I worked hard and it's been appreciated."

SixthSense inventor Pranav Mistry captivates audience  

Pranav Mistry is not a clairvoyant, but talk of SixthSense and his name invariably pops up. The world over, the MIT PhD student's name is linked to the gesture interface, in which any surface or object can become the interface for a computing device. Neither a crystal ball nor a magician's wand, SixthSense is, basically, a combination of a small projector and a tiny camera that is harnessed to a Net-connected device, like a smartphone or laptop.

Demonstrating this technology through his videos at the India Today Youth Summit in New Delhi on Saturday in a session chaired by Kalli Purie, COO, India Today Group Digital, the young wizard, who calls Palanpur in Gujarat his home, showed how he was able to get rid of the keyboard and the monitor of a normal PC. Instead, the wearable combination of the projector and camera allows all information to be displayed on practically any surface even as gestures made by the fingers are captured by the camera and the SixthSense software interprets these to mean specific actions for the computer to carry out.

While the participants watched videos of all his works in anticipation, he gave a live demo of one of his latest projects-Sparsh. He randomly selected videos and images from his phone and transferred them to his PC without using any physical device. Was it magic? Not really, there was the technology behind it (which he explained later) but the experience, of course, was magical.
Before calling Pranav Mistry on stage to say a few words to the youth present in the auditorium, Kalli Purie introduced him as a desigineer, the real-life Phansukh Wangdu, hailing from a small town Palanpur in Gujarat, who has taken the technological world by a storm with his unique and breakthrough innovations.

Having impressed the crowd, as he has the world over, with his devices, Mistry wasn't averse to divesting his geeky avatar and joining in the interaction at the India Today Youth Summit. Replying to a question about what his Mantra for Success is, Mistry said, "Success is not a particular thing. It is the change you want to bring. I want to make technology affordable for the masses and that is what I am working at."

During the interaction, he disclosed his plans of releasing an open-source code for SixthSense so that it is available for the masses. And he also revealed that the 'invisible mouse' (mouseless project) will be commercially available in few month's time.
When quizzed about how he always manages to think out of the box, he said, "I don't think there is a box. I only found solutions to my problems", and signed off.
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